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Album Review

The Orwells – Disgraceland

After getting mocked on Letterman for their dozy on-stage theatrics, The Orwells seem poised for the big time with their second LP. “Who Needs You” is already making its radio rotation rounds with gusto, and the Pixies punch of its rockabilly-garage-punk-Fourth-of-July-parading makes for a snappy firecracker of a single. For fans of the sound, Disgraceland serves up eleven tracks in the same needle-prodded vein.

Disgraceland revels in the raunchy, undignified, balls-out rock its title embraces. Its scuzzy, drugged, sometimes psychotically violent party anthems are out to restore a jagged dangerousness to rock n’ roll. In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, guitarist Matt O’Keefe complains about the “safe and soft” tendencies of synthesizer-dominated modern rock. The Orwells blatantly pursue an old school classic rock set-up, infusing the standard model with wicked rebel energy.

From the beginning, the record is hungry and horny, teeth sharpened and bared, eager to devour. “Southern Comfort” guzzles down sex and alcohol with psychedelic abandon. “The Righteous One” then pushes the production into even more trippy, reverb-loving recklessness, courtesy of some killer production from pros like TV on the Radio’s Dave Sitek and Jim Abbiss (who has worked with Arctic Monkeys and Adele).

Even as the extravaganza’s orgiastic haze grows repetitive and familiar, The Orwells’ youthful zest dares the listener to defy their blood-pumping enthusiasm. “Norman” promises “you’re not gonna make it to the sequel” as singer Mario Cuomo describes the gory mash of a bash gone monstrous. And though, hopefully, The Orwells do have a follow-up to Disgraceland‘s snarling conflagration, ideally the next record will find the band exploring new possibilities, even if it means edging beyond the gritty summer slamming they’ve aggressively mastered.

Grade: B

Written by Ryan Wolf

Written by Ryan Wolf