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Album Review: The Orwells - Terrible Human Beings

Posted by Thomas Spillane on

The Orwells are becoming one of America’s most talented new rock bands.

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Hailing from Chicago, they formed when all of the members were in high school. Mario Cuomo (lead vocalist) and Dominic Corso (guitarist) are cousins, and have been family friends with twin brothers, Grant Brinner (bass) and Henry Brinner (drums) since they were young. Their lineup is rounded up by guitarist Matt O’Keefe, a friend from school. They were signed to independent label Autumn Tone in 2011 and began to pursue music after graduating in 2013. Terrible Human Beings is the third album the band has released, and their most accomplished.

The Orwell’s 2012 debut, Remember When, was a youthful exercise in raw garage punk. Juvenile in tone and just downright fun, songs such as “Ancient Egypt” gave some insight into a growing musical maturity. The band garnered attention from publications such as Pitchfork, who reviewed their single “Mallrats (La La La)” and MTV who named them one of the most criminally overlooked artists of 2012.

The Orwells’ sophomore effort, Disgraceland, was more polished in style, losing some of their raw appeal. Despite this, it was obvious that the band’s songwriting had improved with a plethora of catchy choruses and fifties inspired garage jams. Songs such a “Dirty Sheets” and “The Righteous One” showed The Orwells more confident in trying to find their own sound.

Terrible Human Beings takes the best parts from both of the band’s previous efforts and marries them. The Orwells return with infectious harmonies and punk rock energy. The sheen found on Disgraceland can still be heard on their third record, but this is compensated by feedback and squealing guitars that hark back to the rawness of their debut.

Opening track, “Body In The Bayou” is the band at their most explosive. The main riff grooves along for most of the song while Cuomo howls with a demented purpose. Feedback grows as the song escalates into the final chorus. This is just the beginning of the album. The ensuing songs are all garage-rock anthems, from the maniacal shouting of “Black Francis” to the yearning “Last Call (Go Home)”. The most accomplished song on the record is album closer “Double Feature”. A 7-minute, slow burning track that contains one of the catchiest choruses on the album, ending with a plodding extended jam.

Terrible Human Beings is The Orwells’ best album to date. A fun record full of crashing guitars, and  delirious vocals paired with a pop sensibility, The Orwells might just be the band that carries the torch for rock music into the future.


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