Orange Peels | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Orange Peels




The Orange Peels want it understood that they're from California: According to the Web site for this Bay Area pop quartet, when they delivered their first album to Chicago's Minty Fresh label in 1997 and label honcho Jim Powers complained about the heavy reverb, front man Allen Clapp replied, "What did you expect when you signed a band from California?" The liner notes for their second album, So Far (Spinart), include a plug for postwar architect Joseph Eichler, whose clean lines and floor-to-ceiling windows "came to embody the casual, sophisticated mystique of California living." Songs like "Back in San Francisco," "Redwood City," and "The West Coast Rain" are even more romantic in their take on their home state, and not surprisingly, more than one reviewer has compared the band to California icons the Beach Boys and the Byrds. The Orange Peels lack the former's mile-wide harmonies and the latter's cryptic cool, but their simple, emotionally direct songs have their own charms. Clapp's elegant tunes, influenced by Carole King's but filigreed like Burt Bacharach's, are nicely complemented by guitarist Larry Winther's judicious picking (which he honed in, believe it or not, goofy garage rockers the Mummies). On "The Pattern on Wall" the singer ponders a photo of an old friend, lamenting, "I tried to keep things going, but I can't be the only one / I tried to tell you something, but everything I said was wrong." A tune that seems to be about a girlfriend who's split, "You're So Clever," turns out to be a valentine Clapp wrote for Winther after he quit the band--and Winther was so touched he rejoined. These two shows will be the band's Chicago debut. Saturday, August 11, 9 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 773-549-0203. Sunday, August 12, 9 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport; 773-525-2508. J.R. JONES

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