Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Orange - Starwheel/Feijoa 7" Single

One day, after typing "shoegazer vinyl" into ebay, I happened upon this little gem. It's a 7" single by a (previously unheard of by me) band called Orange from the early 90's, the golden age of dream pop. I then searched this single on youtube & was lucky enough to find the two songs. After hearing them, I immediately ordered the record. I received it in the mail yesterday.

A few notes on the band: Well...I have none. I know absolutely nothing about Orange except that they released this single, and the two tracks here were featured on a very hard-to-find full-length album. I don't know the band members' names (except for their vocalist, Sonya Waters) or if Orange is even still around. All I can tell you is they were a fabulous dream pop band active in the early 90s.

To call this record a "45" would be a misnomer, as it has to be played at 33 rpms, which surprised me. I didn't think the songs were that long (but oh, I am glad they are!) The record came in wonderful condition in a nice, glossy sleeve (also in excellent condition, despite its age.)

This single was originally released in a box set of 7" records. This box set was a collaboration between Tangible and Bomp! Records (which some of you may know from the Brian Jonestown Massacre.) As I have no interest in any of the other records (I don't think,) I only got this one. Anyway, on to the review...

Side A - Starwheel

The track begins with some slightly detuned strumming on a heavily chorused guitar, then the vocals follow shortly after. Sonya's voice is very high, but also very smooth & pleasing. The drums cut in shortly after all this; these are very dynamic, almost like something you'd hear on an Airiel album. The song as a whole manages to be uptempo and fun, whilst not being too terribly unsettling. It excites you & chills you out at the same time. It would be a good driving song...if I had a record player in my car. 4 out of 5 stars.

Side B - Feijoa

This is where Orange really begins to shine. When I found the track on youtube, my jaw literally dropped. The song opens with some soft drums & dreamy guitar chords that fans of The Cocteau Twins will delight in. This continues for a little while, which is by no means a bad thing; the melody is almost entrancing, making one want to sway to the rhythm & slowly fall onto a nice, comfortable bed...or perhaps that's just me. Anyway, after the guitars have managed to serenade you to near-hypnosis, the vocals come in and snap you out of it. Very powerful & emotion-provoking, and also reminiscent of Elizabeth Fraser from the Cocteau Twins. I'm pretty sure the lyrics are...well, non-lyrical, also just like the Twins. However, Sonya's voice is just a bit smaller than Liz's, but by no means less emotional (in my opinion.)
This is the song that sold the record for me. A wonderful, basic example of real, original shoegaze at its best. 5 out of 5 stars.

My only complaint; this record is more of a "tangerine" than an Orange. It's sweet, wonderful, and everything else you could possibly want in a dreampop record, however it's just too short to be completely satisfying. It is, after all, only a single. The practical upshot of this, however, is that there is very little room for error when there are only two songs, and Orange reached (dare I say) perfection on these.

In short, if you have a turntable, definitely pick this up if you get the chance. It's admittedly a bit on the pricey side, but that's when you consider you can run to your local antique mall/thrift store and buy 45s for probably about a buck a piece. Orange is a glistening, bejeweled example of the golden days of shoegaze, unfortunately banished to the realms of obscurity, but it will most definitely not disappoint. 5 out of 5 stars.

PS-if anyone has anymore information about the band, please let me know, as I have been able to turn up very little myself.