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  Wish You Well  
  The Orphins  
  Adair Park Records  
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More than a few years back, Atlanta band The Orphins came onto the local music scene with a crisp, angular, mathy sound and a strong debut album, Drowning Cupid. Afterwards, rumor had it that the band was recording a follow-up album, but then they more or less dropped off the face of the planet. Actually, that's a bit unfair, as The Orphins continued to play live shows, honing the material that one presumed was going to make it onto that next record. And yet, over the course of several years, "that next record" never appeared, making its existence something of a running joke here at EvilSponge HQ.

But then finally, in the late summer of 2009, the long awaited second album by The Orphins, Wish You Well was released. And upon listening to the record, it was like 2004 all over again. This isn't a criticism rather just a statement of fact. When the tunes on this record were first revealed in concert, they struck me as a natural progression for The Orphins. Some songs have that chilly angularity that so characterized the first album, whereas others played with rhythm and style enough to be recognizable as being by the band while it still branched out in other directions.

Along the lines of songs that seem like a natural outgrowth to The Orphins' earlier record, as an example, Sea Song has the guitar effects and sharp-sounding percussion that would be right at home. Likewise, Stars has a crisp pace over layered instrumentation which is so thick that it's hard to pick out how many instruments are actually present on the track. Finally, the phenomenal Tundra, which has always sparkled in The Orphins' live set, has the positively prickly guitar edge backed by raucous yet crunchy drumline that propels everything along at almost breakneck speed.

Yet, as I've grown accustomed to hearing these tunes played in a live setting, where The Orphins always seem to speed things up and become more frenetic, these recorded versions seem a little slow-ish, although I suspect a listener who isn't as familiar with the band's live shows wouldn't necessarily feel the same way.

The other songs which aren't quite as familiar to the regular Orphins concert goer come across a bit better in the recorded format. For instance, Alone, a tune that has a vaguely Mediterranean rhythm underneath the still present mathy influences, bops along a bit like an old Pain tune. Similarly, In the Dark uses the harmonies of guitarists Thomas Barnwell and Daniel Upton to emphasize the higher pitched guitarwork to create something that's more accessible and almost poppy in a melodic sense. Finally, title track Wish You Well has been slowed down to a point that it's more reminiscent of a tune by a band like The Silent Kids (albeit without the keyboard-y bits) than the usually more frantic Orphins. Nevertheless, all of these tunes benefit from the recording process in a way that's not heard within the more "traditional" songs listed above.

So, despite the somewhat incongruous recording, which as mentioned before seems a little slow and at times a little muddy, Wish You Well is a solid record that manages to blend the point The Orphins were at all that time ago with the point The Orphins are at these days. In many ways, it's an artifact of a time that has passed and I know that had it come out 5 years ago, it would have been one of my favorite records of 2004. Still, it does serve as a marker of a place and time and, in effect, clears out The Orphins' catalogue and will hopefully let them move forward in their newish multi-faceted vein.

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Also on EvilSponge:
   Festival: Corndog-o-rama 04
   Concert: Fri.16.Jul.04
   Concert: Sat.28.Aug.04
   Album: Drowning Cupid
   Concert:  Sat.15.Jan.05
   Festival: Corndogorama 2005, Day 3 on Sat.25.Jun.05
   Concert: Fri.20.Jan.06
   Festival: Corndog-o-rama 2006, day 1
   Festival: Corndogorama 2007, day 2
   Festival: Corndogorama 2008, Day 3 on Sat.28.Jun.08
   Concert: Sat.15.Aug.09


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