Orphan Choir - Orphan Choir (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Orphan Choir

Orphan Choir (2009)

Art of the Underground

Orphan Choir's first full-length follows what was seemingly an endless series of split 7-inch releases. While I've previously described them as "somewhere between the shattered-vocal, punk reservations of Leatherface/Jawbreaker and the Americana-tinged Attack in Black," this self-titled effort traverses simpler territory, kinda like a too-straightforward and wall-of-sound exuding Gaslight Anthem with serious tinges of Icky Mettle influence bustling through; of course, it does seem they retain some Frankie Stubbs in the vocal area too.

That epic, languid song on their split with Unwelcome Guests, "Burning Ash Again," had a chilling buildup and repetitive bite that isn't ever really replicated here. The five-minute "Grave Blanket" stretches out some, though, with their lead vocalist begging to "give [him] winter," and it's the closest the band comes to achieving that epic, perfectly drawn-out anthem I know is in them. The next track, "The Night Nurse" could be more effective with greater gaps or pauses and pronounced production, perhaps, but it's definitely a standout as is anyway.

The layout here is pleasing and crisp; Orphan Choir's picturesque lyrics are easy to read and warm and familiar ("Pockets tight, black comb and a jackknife, bicycle cards bound with an old rubber band" -- "Picture Book of Saints"). I don't think they're biting any trends, necessarily, but you can definitely hear the Springsteen in here and feel the similarity to an aforementioned contemporary. It's just that musically, Orphan Choir is still a little rougher and not quite realized, and you spend much of the album begging they were.

Nonetheless, Orphan Choir is still a pretty solid debut, and with some development, their weathered, rugged narrations could make a huge impact.

New Rituals
Picture Book of Saints
Gravel Tongues