Adrian Orange & Her Band – Adrian Orange & Her Band

Adrian Orange & Her Band
Adrian Orange & Her Band

While no one was looking, Phil Elverum protege Adrian Orange released some damn fine music under the name Thanksgiving. His songwriting was in the same vein of Elverum’s and other K Recs alums, but he wasn’t quite ready to be put alongside Phil, Calvin, and Mirah just yet. Maybe the world wasn’t ready for Orange, but more likely, Orange wasn’t ready for the world.

Then something wonderful happened. Bitches Is Lord was released under the name Adrian Orange and completely blew all his previous material out of the water. Orange’s warm guitar, awkward voice, and beautiful lyrics opened a few eyes and ears, and with good cause. Alongside Elverum’s typically amazing production, Orange became one of the most enjoyable songwriters around, and at a time when music is saturated with Will Oldham and Elliot Smith clones, he also became one of the more distinctive voices.

So naturally, after an album like that, the momentum should probably carry to this new album, so why did it only arrive with a whimper? Well, there is a good reason. Adrian Orange & Her Band’s new self-titled is described as “rogue West African prison-funk” by K Recs. I know the label is renowned for being different, experimental, and even a little pretentious, but if you’d like to hear Adrian Orange keep improving on the music you may have come to enjoy, you’re not going to do backflips for “rouge West African prison-funk.” Even I was afraid to crack this one open.

Once you finally hear Adrian Orange & Her Band, though, you realize all this labeling nonsense is really pretty absurd. Sure, the first thing you hear on “Window (Mirror) Shadow” is Latin inspired drums and horns, but once Orange’s voice comes in, you realize that for all the description, the heart of this album still lies in Orange’s excellent songwriting. Although it may be peppered with an exotic flavor, the things that really make Orange enjoyable are still there.

Take “Interdependance Dance,” for example…it may start with similar drums and horns as the first song, but the band mostly falls into a supporting role for the verses, which are centered by a simple piano chord structure and Orange’s voice. The band comes back in the verses, but Orange is still the main attraction. Standout “Fire Dream” sounds like it could’ve been written and performed by Elverum himself on a Microphones album. “A Flower’s Is Mine” is a little jazzier, but even on songs like that, the horns and drums compliment Orange nicely.

This album, like most others, isn’t without its missteps (the Latin jazz jam “You’re My Home” being chief among them), but it’s still a developing songwriter writing solid songs. Even if it is on the experimental side, nothing here sounds forced or out of place, Elverum’s production is still on point, and Orange’s voice and lyrics are still impressive.

So K Records can get a little out of hand, but as I mentioned, they’re a label with a reputation for some pretense. The overzealous description of this album is definitely a play towards that side of the label, but if you really take that to heart, you’re missing out on some good music here. Give Orange & Her Band a chance and you won’t be disappointed.