Firstly, here’s the basic background to ‘International Orange!’
Ex Cop Shoot Cop frontman Tod A initially conceived the notion of forming a band that would meld gypsy and klezmer tunes with punk energy back in 1997 whilst living in a Brooklyn basement flat. In doing so, he pre-dated the likes of Gogol Bordello, Balkan Beat Box and Beiruit by some years.
We are now some fifteen years down the line and Tod has released five albums, travelled the world extensively and written / recorded songs that reflect the music and stories he has experienced on his worldwide sojourn. He has now settled in Istanbul and at various points on this album you can certainly hear the East meets West vibe of the crossroads city.
‘International Orange!‘ contains some really inspired tracks which reflect the different sounds an cultures that Tod has experienced: opener, ‘A Little Revolution,’ is a great little punk-inspired pop song. There is the infectious chorus, the handclaps, the brass section and the slightly rasping, slightly snarled vocals; ‘Glitter Days,’ starts out with a distinctive Eastern flavour, but then heads off down a Robbie Williams route into a decent, if little uninspiring, pop song, and then things start to warm up nicely with ‘Dead Man’s Boots.’ I’m not sure what country inspired this one, but the stomping beat and brass sounds are reminiscent of the track ‘Wilmot’ by Sabres Of Paradise some years ago. This is SO catchy!
‘Up From The Underground,’ is similarly so – even if it is probably more geared towards a stage musical. ‘The Monkey Song’ combines a bhangra beat with the sound of The Specials – especially so when during the chorus the ‘echoed’ “Monkey Man’ vocal could even be sampled from Neville Staple himself.
‘Ex Millionaire Mambo,’ has (not surprisingly) a mambo beat and rhythm. Again, this would no doubt sound great on stage as part of a dramatic musical, but maybe a little less so on CD.
And this is where ‘International Orange!‘ loses its way for me. The remaining five tracks are all pleasant enough, but whereas I could instantly hook in to something from each of the preceding tracks, this second half of the album lacks the impact of the first. It all seems a little more ‘serious,’ and offers nothing special by which to remember the songs.
Which is a great shame ….. more focus on the Balkan beats and upbeat bhangra / reggae mixes would have made this quite a memorable album. As it is however, only half of it actually stands out, no mater how many times I play the second part.
Were this to have been a five or six track EP, then it would have scored pretty highly, but as it is ………..
(Released through Bloodshot Records on 11th September 2012)