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Nana Grizol

Ruth

(Orange Twin; US: 12 Jan 2010; UK: import)

Back when the Elephant 6 collective was still a collective, Orange Twin—who have been a big part of the Athens’ music scene for years—was a label to be reckoned with. But since Elf Power and Apples in Stereo and the rest of them have all branched out on their own, we don’t hear as much about Orange Twin. That’s too bad, really, because they put out great records like Ruth, the new offering from Nana Grizol. This Athens outfit don’t have the Brian Wilson obsession those E6 bands had, but they do have the same chops, the same ear for melody, and the same undeniable energy. That energy gets filtered through a whole bunch of different sounds, too. They can pull of folky twee-pop (“Atoms”), lean power-pop (“Galaxies”), shuffling classic rock (“From Here”), and jangly punk rock (“Arthur Hall”). Each sound is as infectious as the last, and they manage to sound cohesive while still surprising you track to track. Ruth is the kind of record that reminds us of the power simple elements can produce. These songs have guitar, bass, drums, and vocals, with the occasional flourish. The melodies are direct, but never feel tired or half-baked. The lyrics are clever without ever losing heart or slipping into lofty irony. In short, Nana Grizol have a hell of an album with Ruth. And if Orange Twin ever gets back into the collective business, they have the lynchpin for one right here.

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Matthew Fiander is a music critic for PopMatters and Prefix Magazine. He also writes fiction and his work has appeared in The Yalobusha Review. He received his M.F.A. in Creative Writing from UNC-Greensboro and currently teaches writing and literature at High Point University in High Point, NC. You can follow him on Twitter at @mattfiander.


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