Monday, September 30, 2013

Review: The Parson Red Heads - Orb Weaver

WYMA has been in love with the Parson Red Heads and their intelligent and tuneful West Coast pop for some time. Their brand new CD Orb Weaver (release date October 1 on Fiesta Red Records) is a step forward for the band and a good progression from their last CD Yearling, one of our favorites of 2011. Where Yearling was carefully put together over a long period of time in various studios with different producers, Orb Weaver was banged out fairly quickly with Scott McCaughey (Minus 5, Young Fresh Fellows, The Baseball Project) producing and getting a much grittier spontaneous sound closer to the Parsons' live shows.

The band settled on a steady 4 person lineup, eschewing the extra members they tended to earlier, and toured a great deal following Yearling, which lead to a more confident and muscular sound here, while still very much with the harmonies and winsome pop sensibilities that define the Parson Red Heads.

Here's a standout track "Every Mile":

The band shows a more experimental flair here as well, dipping into some trippy psychedelic folk on "Lost Again" and the slow building 6 minute "Beginning".

While Evan Way continues to be the principal singer and songwriter here, guitarist Sam Fowles continues to grow as a singer-songwriter, contributing two terrific Beatles-Big Star influenced tracks. Here's Fowles in the studio, with one of Orb Weaver's standout songs, "Borrow Your Car" coming in at the 1:16 mark:

 Fowle and Way's guitar interplay remains the foundation of this band's sound. Never flashy or overpowering, they use space very well and know what notes not to play. A great example of that is "Times", another slow building track. This one has grown on me tremendously:


 There's an intangible to this band that defines them. These are good people and their thoughtfulness seems only further enhanced by drummer Brette Marie Way giving birth to her and Evan Way's first child last year.  They not only strive to be a better band, but to be better people, and somehow that comes through the music, the live shows, how they interact with their fans and treat each other. In such a cynical, manipulative, 150 characters, superficial world, The Parson Red Heads stand for something better, something deeper. They manage to wear it on their sleeves without the slightest hint of preciousness or pretension. It's all real. And I love them for that.

 Orb Weaver will please your ears and your soul.

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