To say that Orange Can are work-shy (or maybe influence-shy)
might be a little unfair, but it is partly true in that
their first record, last year's 'Entrance High Rise',
sounded to some extent like various interpretations
of The Stone Roses' Second Coming album track 'Tightrope'
for 45 minutes. Not that it actually ended up being
as bad as that suggests at all, far from it. Nestling
very comfortably on Regal (and happily complimenting
that label's jewel, The Beta Band) they had a chill
out ambience tapered to their exact requirements, vocals
like Ian Brown puppeteering Steve Mason in slow-mo,
a relaxing lack of shocks, but more than a few satisfying
twists. It was hazy but definite, rainy day psychedelia.
But there was always a promise that if their first record
gave the retro blues of Second Coming and the classic
ambience of the debut, could their second album show
us where The Stone Roses might have gone next?
Well, no, not exactly. The newly released second album,
'Home Burns', which this show celebrates in its own
vague manner, demonstrates a very slight tweak in direction
but still undoubtedly hasn't changed the baggage in
its nap-sack. If there's just the one problem with its
live performance it's that this is music made for the
armchair, low lights, a joint and a bottle of bourbon,
a fact that the band's demeanor refuses to contest.
Jason Aslett, frontman of sorts although happy to merge
backward, slumbers over his keyboard in a trance and
brother James, despite the choppy whirlwind psychedelia
tumbling from his guitar in the final straights of most
songs, also remains seated and - from our position towards
the bar - largely invisible. If the music needs a lift
it seems like they're trying to diminish themselves
of the responsibility.
But that problem really is one of mood. Get in the right
one and you're off flying through their low altitude
textures with them. That they tend to ease into a rut
and make little effort to get out, or even peek over
the top, offers little problem if you like the scenery.
And highlights from the first record, the rolling contentment
of 'Butterfly' or the lolloping progression of 'Beat
The Sky', remind us that we do. And with new offerings
striking out perhaps increasingly coherent structures
from their 70s stoner rock psychedelic melting pot,
in the right time and place this really could have hit
the spot. But then, tired eyes aren't likely to give
you high odds of a bull's-eye.
James Berry for Crud Magazine© 2001