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Nutshell Album Review: The Orwells – Who Needs You EP

orwells_newepRemember yesterday when I said EPs take less work to review? Well here we are! Trying to reap the maximum amount of benefits from the most minimal amount of time and listening! But in all honesty, read this because it’s a legitimate EP. Come on now.

The Orwells, a wonderful group of would-be-college-kids from small town Elmhurst, Illinois have been rattling the diminishing world of legitimate rock and roll for about the last year, driven by highly successful appearances at big-named festivals like SXSW and Lollapalooza, future dates at Austin City Limits and the Weezer Cruise, and a recent appearance on NPR. The craze seems to stem from early single “Mallrats (La La La)”, a rambunctious and almost playful garage-punk track that seemed too good to be true. After a hilarious music video that looks like a group of skater kids that had just stumbled out of a Bad Brains show started to wreak havoc on the local mall (I still can’t see a Wetzel’s Pretzels without thinking about this song), a debut album, a follow-up EP, and not that many haircuts, this five-piece garage outfit is proving that they deserve to be known as more than the kids from Elmhurst who tried to start a band. And with mixed signals about whether or not a second album is in the works, the Who Needs You EP will be enough (hopefully) to hold us over until we all get a glimpse of it.

The EP starts off with title track “Who Needs You”, which is bordering on the line of being one of the most solid protest songs that’s come out of recent history. Complete with a simple, but well-done music video reminiscent of The Strokes’ “Last Nite” video, the song is a great combination of being appealing and rough around the edges, and is a great track to start off the EP with. The second song is “Open Your Eyes (A Misfits Rip-off)” which, to give The Orwells credit, isn’t too much of rip-off of any Misfits song I could point to. With an amplified rhythm section and some vocal harmonies backing him, frontman Mario Cuomo delivers an impressive vocal performance on a song that is hooky and just generally fun to listen to. “Salvation Is A Parking Lot (A Black Lips Rip-off)”  has a more spot-on comparison with the use of Black Lips techniques like group vocals and almost chant-like talk singing at points. But The Orwells, again, deserve some credit here for doing something you don’t see very often: paying homage to bands you like without totally copying one of their specific songs. They even made it sound like they wrote the song (which they did). So bravo! The EP then ends with an Audiotree live take of Remember When track “Halloween All Year”, which is a nice close to an even nicer collection of songs.

The Orwells are a band that, for whatever reason, I missed out on reviewing not once but twice. After finally seeing them do a live show (I’m already planning on going to another one) and hearing about the Who Needs You EP, I knew I had to get them up on the site. I’m glad that I did, and I’m even more glad I got something that can be high on the priority list of past reviews. 94/100 for The Orwells for their newest release, which you can get your hands on starting September 10th.

Who Needs You EP Tracklisting

  1. Who Needs You
  2. Open Your Eyes (A Misfits Rip-off)
  3. Salvation Is A Parking Lot (A Black Lips Rip-off)
  4. Halloween All Year (Audiotree Live Session)

Lollapalooza 2013 Recap

For those of you who missed this past weekend’s annual music festival in Grant Park, first off shame on you. But it’s fully understandable that there are many reasons to not be hitting up the notoriously crowded, hot, and usually storm-ridden Lollapalooza, and it is also understandable that if you did happen to miss it, you are curious about what you missed. Even for those that did land on the woodchip-covered park sometime this weekend, it sure is fun to reminisce. So here it is; the Nutshell Music Group Lollapalooza 3-Day Recap.

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Friday: The air was buzzing with yet another big-billed festival weekend upon us. There was a short drizzle early, and the day’s high temperature of 81 was the highest on schedule for the whole weekend. Things really were looking up with a solid set of headliners performing later in the evening, and a solid undercard to boot.

Friday’s Notable Moments:

  1. San Cisco starting off the day with a dance party except, you know, one that indie kids would go to.
  2. Father John Misty french kissing a stuffed unicorn.
  3. Bernard Sumner joining The Killers on stage to perform Joy Division’s “Shadowplay”.
  4. Thievery Corporation defining the word “groove”.

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Saturday: For many reasons, the second day of this year’s festival was very possibly the most exciting. One band was preparing for a comeback show (actually their second show back) after their bassist suffered a brain clot, and another took the stage for one of their final performances ever. On top of that, some of the biggest names in indie rock, hip-hop, and EDM all powered through electrifying sets to cap off day 2 of Lollapalooza.

Saturday’s Notable Moments:

  1. Pujol enjoying some candy thrown on stage by an audience member during their soundcheck.
  2. Matt & Kim repeatedly sampling, among many other rap classics, Ace Hood’s “Bugatti”. The band later suffered so many technical difficulties that “Daylight” had to be cut in mid-song, and they instead ended their set with “Cinders”, which they had admittedly not played in years.
  3. Ellie Goulding ending her hit “Lights” with a snippet of the Bassnectar remix.
  4. Two fans in wheel chairs crowd surfing during Kendrick Lamar’s set being helped over the front guardrail, and being allowed to watch the remainder of the show from the front of the stage.
  5. The Postal Service playing absolutely every song in their repertoire, and the crowd singing the last line of “Brand New Colony” over and over again as the band left the stage.
  6. Death Grips and Azealia Banks both separately cancelling Saturday night performances, resulting in Shaun White’s band Bad Things headlining on The Grove stage.

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Sunday: The same as always, the weekend seemed to be coming to a close much too quickly and the initial hype was slowly turning into sunburn, hangovers, and fatigue. The weather was a blessing with it actually becoming a bit cold by the end of the night, and that shot enough energy into the crowd to see some of the most successful musicians, both new and old, in their respective genres. The night ended on such a high (and tired) note that the only thing I could muster up for my personal Twitter account was “So. F*****g. Good.”

Sunday’s Notable Moments:

  1. Mario Cuomo of The Orwells taking off his pants at the tail end of the band’s set.
  2. Alex Trimble of Two Door Cinema Club keeping it classy, performing in a suit and drinking wine.
  3. Vampire Weekend not being able to get through their set without laughing at the crowd throwing toilet paper on stage or watching as a fan ran on stage (showing his bare butt) and was quickly restrained backstage.
  4. Phoenix putting on an absolute spectacle of a performance, including Thomas Mars making two trips over the guardrail and laying down for the group’s extra-long rendition of “Love Like a Sunset”.

Keep your eyes peeled for some concert reviews of a few of the Lollapalooza sets, along with another upcoming festival review next week!

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