Album Review: The Orwells – Disgraceland

Garage rocker’s The Orwells dropped their previously well know personas as garage-rock revivalists with their newest full length album Disgraceland. Chicago natives the Orwells- comprised of vocalist Mario Cuomo, Dominic Corson and Matt O’Keefe on guitars, Grant Brinner on bass, and Henry Brinner on drums, first appeared on the garage-rock map with their 2012 debut album Remember When and it was for good cause.

Remember When is one just one big fuzzy sounding rock ballad, and upon its debut, all came together quite perfectly for the then high school kids. From front to back, the album commanded what any garage rock revival album of the past 50 years would, yet in a completely different manner. With tracks like “In My Bed” and the melodic, ever-so-catchy single “Mallrats (La La La)”, thrashing, guitars and crackled, echoed vocals were present; however, the album would take a step back with calmer, darker, more rebellious tracks like “Halloween All Year.” For that reason, I believe Remember When was and is still considered garage rock gold, something a lot of garage rockers aren’t able to distinguish. On 2014’s Disgraceland, the Orwells cleaned up their sound a lot.

On Disgraceland, all things lo-fi and scuzz were disassembled and polished, only to be re-formed into one big studio production. Corson and O’Keefe’s guitar style have  shape-shifted into glossy pieces of post studio production, yet remained loud and glowing with warmth, showing shades of their former lo-fi selves. One thing that remained the same, however, was the rambunctious vocals of Mario Cuomo. Not commanding one of the best vocal ranges, on the entire full-length you’ll find Cuomo nonchalantly singing, yelling and often howling.

On the single “Who Needs You”, Cuomo, much like on the track “Halloween All Year” from the debut album, is found once referring to some sort of weaponry and self-harm, in the seemingly utmost teenage angst. Singing about knives and 12 gauges respectively, it seems that Cuomo’s mentality and drive has a lyricist has not changed, despite the complete re-modification of the rest of the band. From front to back on Disgraceland this exact distance between context and tone was present, however, in the end, turns outs to be a quality release. While they may never become the next Strokes,  Disgraceland certainly points to a path in the right direction for young members of a rock n’ roll band in the year of 2014. To release an album this appealingly humble and honest in vocals of many shortcomings, Disgraceland is an apparent answer for a band still trying to find their way.

Steam the entire album on the Orwell’s website.

1 Comment

  1. Darlene Steelman

    July 2, 2014 at 8:36 am

    This album sounds pretty interesting.. I’m going to have to check it out! Thanks for reviewing…


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