The Orange Peels “Begin the Begone”
Its hard to mention this album without the circumstances behind it. The Orange Peels lead singer, guitarist and keyboardist Allen Clapp and his bassist wife Jill Pries were in a near fatal car accident while on the way to a concert. They escaped with only minor injuries, and made it to the stage that evening. But following that event, they rushed into the studio to start Begin The Begone. With lead guitarist John Moreman and drummer Gabriel Coan, the band set about doing things a little differently.
Most of the songs are related to the experience, “Head Cleaner” and “Fleeing the Scene” are aggressive, but detailed pop gems with bright chords, big drum beats and REM-like base lines. With “New Moon” the songs add layers of psychedelic textures and shimmering rhythms. All very much like classic Orange Peels, but just a little darker.
Then the album really takes off with “Embers” built on a great piano melody and angular guitar accompaniment, Clapp sounds great throughout here. Both “Tidepool” and “post and Beam” are compelling instrumentals here, one a casual dreamscape and the other a drum dream sequence that blew me away – definitely not filler. It leads up to Moreman’s guitar on “9” and the catchy verses about the highway driving that takes place after the accident, “when I think of what we’ve been through, it’s a wonder we’re alive…” Clapp intones. Then “Satellite Song” channels the West Coast brilliance of Curt Boechetter and the Millennium. It ends with the symphonic kaleidoscope that is “Wintergreen,” and after a few listens you realize this isn’t your average album, but a modern classic. Makes my top ten list easily and arguably the best Orange Peels album ever.