Punknews.org
Mock Orange - Mind Is Not Brain (Cover Artwork)

Mock Orange

Mock Orange: Mind Is Not BrainMind Is Not Brain (2004)
Silverthree Records

Reviewer Rating: 5
User Rating:


Contributed by: greg0rbgreg0rb
(others by this writer | submit your own)

Mock Orange found me at just the right time. In 1998, I was a junior in high school who listened to the typical skate punk. My favorite band was Lagwagon, and my search for new bands ended at the Fat Wreck and Punk-O-Rama compilations. Yuck it up, I don't mind. But then, I was introduced to a ba.
iTunes StoreAmazon


Mock Orange found me at just the right time. In 1998, I was a junior in high school who listened to the typical skate punk. My favorite band was Lagwagon, and my search for new bands ended at the Fat Wreck and Punk-O-Rama compilations. Yuck it up, I don't mind. But then, I was introduced to a band called Mock Orange by a friend. He had a copied cassette of something called the "Green Album" (no not Weezer). The rumor he had heard was that Shawn, ex-guitarist of Lagwagon was in the band. The sound of the music was enough within my tastes for me to love it at first listen, but it also had something more I had not been exposed to. (These days I am certain that no one from Lagwagon was ever in the band, and although I have heard that there was such a "Green Album", it has been hidden from public knowledge by the band. It was probably self-released, so it has most likely been out of print for a long time.)

Soon afterwards I picked up the only Mock Orange record I could find at the local indie record store, Nines and Sixes, and it was not long before it gained the title of one of my favorite albums, remaining there to this day. The album actually does still have a bit of that Lagwagon riffage and speed, with a double time beat even appearing. But it also had the indie rock flair- start and stop rhythms, seventh-chords, dynamic shifts. It opened my mind to bands like Braid. Yes, I knew about Mock Orange before them… continue to yuck it up on my behalf. The point is, Mock Orange got me there.

In 2000, The Record Play came out and I was at first disappointed by the lower level of distortion and volume and the slower speeds. In time I digested it, and as my musical tastes had broadened because of their last record, I grew to love it as well. This again pushed the boundaries of what I could like-before everything had to be fast and loud- Nines and Sixes still fit into that, this album didn't. I eventually began to open up to albums like Jimmy Eat World's Clarity, and over time other mellower acts like Death Cab for Cutie and Pedro the Lion. Indirectly, my musical tastes also began to expand in other directions as well, to encompass all kinds of underground rock like Cap'n Jazz, At the Drive-In and Refused.

In 2002, First EP showed more growth, growth I later came to believe as the band finding their true sound. Their last two albums were amazing, but these five tracks seemed to be something truly different, something that really seemed to fit. A hint of alt/country along the lines of Wilco, remnants of perhaps a bluegrass influence, southern rock lead guitars ala Lynyrd Skynyrd, along with the groove of Modest Mouse. My musical tastes grew to include the later as one of my favorites, as well as now countless other acts. I believe myself to have a truly open mind to music these days. Now it would be a bit much to say that it is all thanks to Mock Orange, but it just seems that they have grown right along with me and I have really connected with them on every release.

Now onto the present: Mind is Not Brain. Truth be told, it is not really the present. Due to difficulties with intended label Dead Droid, this album is coming out a year and a half after it was recorded, which was January of 2003. That aside, this is a great album. Of all their albums, it is the least instantly noticeable in it's stylistic changes, for this one is more of an evolution of the sound on First EP, and an expansion of its sonic possibilities. For one, they have their first acoustic-based tunes, "East Side Story", "My God", and "I Can't Seem to Think". There had been some acoustic overdubs on the EP, but this is a true expansion of their sound, taking the volume down a notch, letting their songwriting shine through, and also giving diversity to the album. "East Side Story" also shows other growth, introducing electronics for the first time in a Mock Orange song by way of echoing synth tones and a laid-back drum machine beat, which mix in great with the guitar, banjo and strings; consequentially this is one of my favorites on the disc. The list of "instruments new to a Mock Orange song" could also include vibraphone ("This Nation") and piano ("Hawks Can Go"). One more sonic growth would be the expanded use of musical noise. The album starts with extensive squeals and feedback, and ends similarly. In between, tracks like "Do You Want Out" uses noise underneath vocals, in this case shouts of "You want out of it / you want out" over booming drums, some kind of additional metallic percussion and guitar squeals, a great end to a great track.

Another form of growth would be Ryan Grisham's vocals. He has found a unique voice, which was in development back on the EP. There is still plenty of falsetto which has gotten stronger, and his lyrics, full of self-questioning and worldly questioning, are the most interesting he has yet produced (guitarist Joe Asher may also write some of the lyrics, I'm not certain). Yet it still remains fun and at times even funny, like in "I Keep Saying So Long" he sings "I think I'd like to live in a hole / Where I could sing mo mama mo / And nobody laughs cause nobody knows" and poking fun in "This Nation" he sings "Everybody's got to have macho rock and roll / Who's calling out the songs you smash your face to / We don't need them any more". But the most fun song on the album would have to be the opener "Payroll" with it's noisy intro, Japanese-sounding guitar melody over Modest Mouse-style stomping drums and bass, and a catchy-as-hell chorus with one of the best melodies Grisham has ever laid down linked with a great fuzzy guitar lead. Grisham's melodies throughout are as good as ever, and often pack quite a range, making them very original and never cliché.

There is not a track of filler on this album, but other standout tracks would be the title track, which has some of the best dual-guitar riffage the band has produced since Nines, but staying within their current style. Another nice surprise is the musical segue, unlisted on the sleeve, a airy instrumental with organ type sounds and reverb soaked guitars playing another Japanese-sounding melody, leading into "My God". If you put the CD in your computer, you can access some additional material including a music video for "Segue." It's an odd choice for a music video as it is only a minute and a half, it has no vocals, and it really does not represent the album as a whole. That all contributes to making it seem more like an eery film score- a film containing disturbing images of a child chained at the ankle, alternating with funny yet freaky images of people in bear costumes doing various things like chin-ups and petting a cat. Also included are six more songs, demo versions of something they call on their website "the lost mini-record by the enigmatic return of the hawks." I have no idea what that means, but the songs are good ("80's Song" has hilarious lyrics), despite lacking full instrumentation in most of them. More songs for your buck!

Mind is Not Brain showcases a hard-working band finding their strong suits and creating an all-around great album. Joe Asher has said in an interview that the band has material for two more LPs already but for now enjoy this album, now that we finally have it. I highly recommend it, whether you connect as much with the band as me or you are a new listener.

 

 
People who liked this also liked:
Colossal - Welcome The ProblemsMock Orange - The Record PlayMock Orange - Captain LoveRise Against - Revolutions Per MinuteCartel - The RansomThe Arcade Fire - Neon BibleRamones - RamonesSaosin - Translating The NameKid Dynamite - Shorter, Faster, LouderMaritime - We, The Vehicles

Please login or register to post comments.What are the benefits of having a Punknews.org account?
  • Share your opinion by posting comments on the stories that interest you
  • Rate music and bands and help shape the weekly top ten
  • Let Punknews.org use your ratings to help you find bands and albums you might like
  • Customize features on the site to get the news the way you want.
Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
Infrarecon (December 9, 2005)

This album is great.

Anonymous (June 13, 2005)

the person who wrote this sounds like me mock orange changed my life from fat and epitaph to so many other musical possibilities

Anonymous (October 5, 2004)

Wow. These guys are awesome.

Anyone know where i can get the lyrics??

Anonymous (August 15, 2004)

this band has changed my life. musically and intellectually. listen and be in awe.

manman (July 23, 2004)

There is also a more sinister rumor that if you play the record backwards you will hear the incantations of a Satanic Ritual to summon the horror that is Martha Stewart. This is only a rumor, but you can never be too sure.

Anonymous (July 21, 2004)

that's funny. i heard mock orange for the first time just 20 minutes ago, on my local college radio station. coincidences are fun. but yes, the song i heard was very good. i'll have to check this stuff out.

Anonymous (July 20, 2004)

You should ummm... post new reviews, because I'm bored and at work.. and bored.

Anonymous (July 20, 2004)

finally!!!

Anonymous (July 20, 2004)

"That's a veritable top 10 of best punk albums ever."

There's 9 reviews there.

Anonymous (July 20, 2004)

Hard to believe this hasn't been reviewed before. Excellent. My favorite album of this year, so far.

greg0rb (July 19, 2004)

Haha... awesome. '81 represent!
-Greg

Anonymous (July 19, 2004)

i'm glad to hear theres one other person in this world whos favorite band through the mid to late nineties was Lagwagon. Maybe it has something to do with being born in 81.... Either way, i'm gonna buy this cd just cuz i now trust the reviewers taste

MarkieStabone (July 19, 2004)

"Yo, BSD... Thats pretty lame that you give everyone 5 stars.. thats not being very critical.."

Of course he gave them all five stars! That's a veritable top 10 of best punk albums ever.

Anonymous (July 18, 2004)

"Yo, BSD... Thats pretty lame that you give everyone 5 stars.. thats not being very critical.. and no this isnt even the guy who did this review. i just saw it and think thats pretty lame. way to be partial.. jack fuck.. ps. the bands you like
suck"
This may be coming a little late but I think he's pretty critical you jackass, of what I recall the albums reviewed by him (that I knew) are 5 star material. And I bet you haven't heard any of those albums anyhow.

Anonymous (July 18, 2004)

Since when have I posted for something besides corrections or to piss people off?

-BSD

Anonymous (July 18, 2004)

i live about 5 minutes from their hometown and saw them play very much when i was only 11 and 12. the green album was released by a small record label in evansville, IN called minus 7. it's still my favorite release. if your lucky, you can find the tape before this album, open sunday.

Anonymous (July 18, 2004)

BSD why do you comment on every album reviewed here since you despise almost everything released after the early eighties?

You have a great knowledge in the punk history I agree and a lot of the bands you claim to like are great... BUT your total disinterest and contempt for today's music scene makes your comments worthless to me.

Anonymous (July 18, 2004)

There was a Green CD. I have most of the songs from it.

BSD (July 18, 2004)

Okay, just refrain from plugging your site again, "yo", and I think we can both end this peacefully.

Anonymous (July 18, 2004)

Yo, BSD... Thats pretty lame that you give everyone 5 stars.. thats not being very critical.. and no this isnt even the guy who did this review. i just saw it and think thats pretty lame. way to be partial.. jack fuck.. ps. the bands you like suck

BSD (July 17, 2004)

http://www.punknews.org/reviews.php?op=reviews&letter=auth&name= BSD

Anonymous (July 17, 2004)

Dear BSD,
please direct me to your reviews Mr Anonymous, so i may discover just how super awesome amazing you are.

Anonymous (July 17, 2004)

I saw someone below wanted an Only Crime review. Since I've been listening to the album non-stop the last week here's my opinion: it rocks like an avalanche.

At first it sounds like Good Riddance (because Russ Rankin is the singer for both bands), but the more you listen to it the more you'll notice it has a different rhythm to it. All the songs are real songs - with a begining, middle, and end - which gives it a little more of a "rock" feel. Other than that, the albums has more backing vocals than GR and (of course) there are some great melodic breakdowns.

The only problem with Only Crime is that it's a supergroup. That's not a problem per se, but Good Riddance itself should have released this album. If they had, you could say they were showing artistic growth without losing their trademark sound. Since they didn't though, I'm kind of left feeling that this is what Good Riddance would have recorded after 'for god and country' or 'moderne rebellion' in an alternate dimension.

In sum: great album. If you like GR, I'd definitely recommend it - if your taste runs more toward bands like Challenger or Black Flag you might want to give it a try as wel since it's more than "just another GR album."

OC

DavidChicago (July 17, 2004)

This record displays the caliber and growth of one of the best bands on the planet, and their live show ain't bad neither.

Anonymous (July 17, 2004)

oops

Anonymous (July 17, 2004)

buck wild broke up years ago

funkisdead (July 17, 2004)

lobster and shawn are not related, two separate entities. steve runs lobster! what up steve.
this record rocks.

Anonymous (July 17, 2004)

what a great review. im sold.

Anonymous (July 17, 2004)

These guys are fantastic. I saw them recently on the Minus the Bear/Braid tour in St .Louis and actually ran into them on accident afterwards at the shittiest gas station you've ever seen.

The place was locked down and there was a small walk-up window where the lady behind the bullet proof glass would ask what you needed and get it for you, then slide it under the glass through a metal container. Anyway, the guitarist (I think it was the guitarist) ordered some shitty refrigerated sub and we joked about how disgusting it was for a while. Then some homeless guy harassed us for a bit, and we hugged him a bunch of times. He talked with us about music history and politics. What a fantastic man!

Anonymous (July 16, 2004)

To complete your history lesson. Shawn, the original Lagwagon guitarist, ran/runs Lobster Records, who released the early stuff from Mock Orange. Lobster is also home to Shawn's post Lagwagon failure, Buck Wild.

Anonymous (July 16, 2004)

I thought my reviews concentrated too much on history lessons... You suck.

I'm sorry, Jesse. Start writing reviews again. This Greg0rb guy is a loser.

-BSD

hey_sailor (July 16, 2004)

OK, seriously...where is the Only Crime review?

Anonymous (July 16, 2004)

hey buddy below me. blood brothers concert is down the hall.

- jones the bones

Anonymous (July 16, 2004)

i just saw them last night and their set list was a little different:

trash flavored trash
teen heat
guitarmy
birth skin/death leather
B. horses
ambulance vs. ambulance
rats, rats, rats, and candy
celebrator
jennifer
devestator
mutiny on the ark of blood brothers
ceclia

Anonymous (July 16, 2004)

No mp3s?

Anonymous (July 16, 2004)

these guys are beautiful.

maverick (July 16, 2004)

Excellent review.

I just heard this record for the first time yesterday, and was blown away. Tons of Built To Spill all over this disc, in a very good way. I need to pick this up.

-Scott

Exclusive Streams

Newest Reviews

Punknews.org Team

Other Places to Go