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The Oranges Band Release Their Album for Baltimore, Let the Rest of the World Wait

November 18, 2008

The Oranges Band | Image by City Paper Digi-Cam™

The Oranges Band’s new album is all about revisiting the Baltimore rock scene’s past, so it’s appropriate that it was unveiled in a somewhat anachronistic way on Friday night–a local release party at the Ottobar several months ahead of the album’s national release date. It’s something that even the smallest indie bands are now much more reticent to do than they would’ve a few years ago, letting even a small clutch of local fans get copies of an album early, which inevitably translates to the album getting leaked to the internet. But the Oranges Band, God bless ‘em, were happy to lay the new CD out on the merch table for anyone who wanted it, and play a few songs from it for everyone else in the house.

The night’s openers happened to be two bands we’d seen play on the same bill before. Deleted Scenes, an impressive Washington-based quartet who play with Baltimore bands so often that we’d be tempted to claim them as our own if we didn’t have plenty of local bands to champion, put on a loud, fun set as usual. The other band, Baltimore’s own Gary B. and the Notions, seem to be coming into their own as a live act, still giving off a gawky, geeky vibe but sounding tighter and more confident as musicians.

When the headliners got started, they looked a little different from the Oranges Band we’re used to. Firstly, frontman Roman Kuebler, sporting glasses and a button down shirt, was looking more professorial than usual. Secondly, and more significantly, the band, which has almost always played shows with four or five members in the past, was whittled down to three, with their newest addition, Guided By Voices alum Doug Gillard, absent on Friday. Even though there might have been a little something lost without the Oranges’ usually thick multi-guitar sound, Kuebler was able to hold down the riffs that matter the most in their songs, and the whole band sounded lighter on its feet and more rhythmically flexible than ever in a power trio formation.

Although the occasion of the evening was the new record, The Oranges Band Are Invisible is a fairly short album, and so the majority of the band’s hour-long set was taken up by older tunes. While it’s hard to measure the new songs against the more familiar ones, hopefully they’ll age as well as the breezy “Open Air” and the charging “Atmosphere,” both from 2005′s The World and Everything In It. And Kuebler, who titled one of the new songs “Ottobar Afterhours,” appeared eager to take the tune literally, urging the audience to stay at the bar and hang out with the band after it got done playing. We didn’t have the energy to stick around, but based on the enthusiasm in the room, we assume plenty of people did.