Holed up in a Sunnyvale tract home, the Orange Peels are writing the next chapter in the California Sound.
If the band's first two albums, Square (Minty Fresh) and So Far (SpinART), were the groundwork for their newest effort, the foundations were well laid. But nobody could have predicted the soaring heights and sweeping soundscapes of "Circling the Sun."
Taking cues from the terrestrial and the celestial, the band's third album is both more earthy and spacey than its past works. It's the sound of a band transformed. It shows in Allen Clapp's expansive song and vocal arrangements, which echo a lyrical preoccupation with the weather and the cosmos. It's evident in Jill Pries, whose grumpily melodic bass lines propel the Peels' songs in new directions.
Perhaps it's the addition of Oed Ronne (the Ocean Blue), a multi-instrumentalist who joined the band in late 2002 on lead guitar and keyboards. Or the fact that the band broke free from its garage to work again with producer Bryan Hanna (who collaborated on the band's debut disc) in the new world-class acoustic spaces of the Terrarium in Minneapolis. Or, maybe a few more orbits around the solar system's big star have granted the band a new perspective.
Three different drummers contribute here: Peter Anderson (John Vanderslice, the Ocean Blue) brings his session-perfect touches just where they're needed ("So Right," "Long Cold Summer"); Mr. Hanna lends brute force to "Something in You" and "Circling the Sun," and Peels' original drummer Bob Vickers reappears to grace "California Blue" and the album's closing number, "How Green the Grass" with his laid-back West Coast beats.
Whatever the case, the Peels emerge reborn -- tambourines shaking, guitars chiming, string arrangements fluttering -- beckoning you to the golden shores of the West Coast.