Sometimes plans can be overrated. Sure they can help focus a group toward a common goal, but overdo it and you can end up with an album that sounds and feels more like a corporate quarterly report than art.
When The Orange Peels embarked on recording sessions for their fifth album, Sun Moon (Minty Fresh/Mystery Lawn Music), the band really didn’t have a direction in mind. Afterall, they’d already conquered the indiepop, powerpop and West-Coast rock genres with their critically acclaimed back-catalog, and they didn’t want to fall into the old trap of trying to repeat past successes.
What came next was exciting, unexpected and frustrating as the band navigated a new sound it was inventing with each new session. Gathering on Sunday afternoons without a clear idea of what would happen, the band came up with something new every time, and recorded the fresh tracks hours later.
Peels’ bassist and founding member Jill Pries was partly to blame for the shake-up in the band’s process. The band’s main songwriter, Allen Clapp, was busy producing albums for other likeminded bands (Jim Ruiz Set, The Corner Laughers, Alison Faith Levy) and running his new boutique record label, Mystery Lawn Music. Pries wanted to get the Orange Peels back on track, so she started organizing sessions even when Clapp didn’t have anything written for the band to record.
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