With the tightly wound first notes of "New Rituals," this self-titled debut from these Windsor scene fixtures makes a powerful, understated entrance into the world. Building to an explosive, anthemic chorus driven by slashing guitar tones that would make Shiner weep, the song functions like a manifesto for what follows: a controlled mixture of post-punk and '90s indie rock, a delicate balance that sees the band swinging from Shellac-inspired riffs on "Gene Tierney" to the Gin Blossoms-meets-Hot Water Music pop dirge of "Grave Blankets." With a stack of seven-inch splits and single releases behind them, Orphan Choir needed to make a solid statement with this record, and they've succeeded, cementing a discernable sonic identity that separates them from their many spiritual cousins in Hot Water Music worship. Inventive production elevates the songwriting to a whole new plain, highlighting the band's strength and beefing up their sound in all the right spots. Orphan Choir is massive sounding when it needs to be and delicately restrained when the songs calls for it, and the result is a vital, driving record that feels important for the entirety of its 37-minute running time.
In my mind, Windsor isn't exactly the rock'n'roll Mecca. How has the town affected the way Orphan Choir have evolved?
Vocalist Jim Meloche: Windsor's whole character, economy and location definitely have an affect on the way we write and play music. It's a really blue-collar town; it's the automotive capital of Canada. To me, that seeps into the lyrics and the work ethic and the basic way you operate as a band. As far as other Windsor musicians, there aren't many that get a lot of recognition. There's 50 Watt Head, who are probably the only other Windsor band to get coverage in Exclaim! in the last seven years.
You guys recorded this album in Vancouver at the Hive and I'm curious how it was different from other studio experiences you've had in the past.
We recorded a few times in Windsor but we were never really stoked about any of it. The people who recorded it didn't know what we were going for. We did two seven-inches in Toronto at Chemical Sound with Ian Blurton. That was all analog, right to tape. This was two weeks and all digital. It was a different process. Stu [McKillop] recorded, produced, engineered and even played a little on this record. Being in bands like Aspirations and Daggermouth, he understood our influences and what we were going for. He knew what was up.