Ok, I know. This is a music column – not a confessional. But it’s MY column and I must confess: Forgive me Salem, for I have sinned. I discounted local band Orchards. I can’t put my finger on why I never took them seriously, but it doesn’t matter. Daniel Loren, the band’s singer, guitarist and songwriter had approached me a couple times and I kept putting them on the back burner.
The day of the interview, I woke up still tired. So much bullshit happening in the world piled atop mine own. I pressed play on Orchards’ new digital EP “Winter.” Not because I wanted to, but because I had to. See where this is going? Sometimes dark needs a little more dark and then it becomes light. I turned it up. Orchards is somber, moody, goth even – a descriptor that was met by appreciative smiles by the band when I suggested it.
Loren has assembled a seasoned and talented group of musicians: Aaron Branam – bass and vocals; Elizabeth Brock – viola; Jacob Zeigler – cello; Stan Keightley – keyboards and Alex Geiszler on drums. Yeah. Cello AND viola. I told you this stuff was moody. But it’s not only that. Layered on top of the haunting orchestration is Loren’s unusual and alluring vocal stylings and phrasing, reminiscent of Nick Cave with a dash of Leonard Cohen, but not deliberately so. Another element that makes it relevant is Alex Geiszler’s drum work. He doesn’t do the expected under these deliciously dark and dirgy circumstances. He chooses beats with an urgency, sometimes almost a marching military clip. His drum work alone is experimental and compliments the songs entirely. As I was finishing up the EP with the song, “The End,” I was delighted by an unexpected turn to an almost 90s alt-rock underlayer. I’m feeling Interpol a bit? I love Interpol.
I met with half of the band, it’s not easy to coordinate seven people’s schedules, at The Gov Cup downtown. After feeling so much apprehension about writing this article, and then listening to it and loving it, I was wondering how they would react to my observations. Again, why did I have these misgivings? It is now moot. We got along famously and I felt we had a genuine experience. They told me their history, which would take another article just to detail, and I loved hearing it all. I was impressed that they have actually gotten out of Salem quite a bit touring, and in the process made connections with other West coast bands.
In fact, Karima Walker, also on the bill at IKE Box is one such connection. Walker is from Tuscon, Arizona and will be a fitting act for this show. She is also moody, but much more mellow and subdued. I’m hearing bleak and hopeful at the same time. How about you come and listen for yourself?
Orchards is releasing a three song EP, “Winter,” for digital distribution only. You can get it now for $3 on their bandcamp, but they’ll be giving out a special 48 hour promo code at their show to get if free. See what they’re doing there? Smart. Additionally, they’re gearing up to release a full length LP this winter, and only two of the songs will be on that 12 inch, and those songs will be remixed. But I’m suggesting you collect them all.
You know, sometimes, the thing you resist is the very thing you need. Orchards, forgive me for doubting you. Hats off and thank you.