Last year barely-legal garage rockers The Orwells tore up the Mercury Lounge during a sweaty CMJ show with an unmatched youthful swagger that landed them on our list of artists to know. The previous summer they’d released their debut album, Remember When, a nose-dive into the band’s unabashed fuzzed-up punk. Now, with the release of the Other Voices EP, a few more garage pop tracks get a proper venue on which to showcase even more teen fury and confusion.
The EP naturally starts with The Orwells’ strongest track to date, the original version of “Other Lives.” And with this shamelessly confused declaration of infatuation with a girl who is “not the prettiest girl around,” The Orwells successfully launch another collection of guitar-heavy energy. The brevity of the track, coupled with its high-intensity vocals and delightfully earmworm chorus (“I’m slipping in and you’re tripping out/I’ll let you in if you let me out”) and guitar breaks create a bubbly jam that will firmly lodge itself in the most stubborn of brains.
TV On The Radio guitarist and producer of all your favorite up-and-coming indie jams Dave Sitek also produced a version of the title track. While normally, the rash and raw sound of a lo-fi home recording works its charms, the Sitek version of “Other Lives” is equally as jaunty and fun. The band maintains its sense of agit-chaos. The track, which immediately follows the original, is tighter and lighter on the bass. “We hear such a big difference between the two where we really liked ours for what it was and we wanted it to be on there,” guitarist Matt O’Keefe said in a recent CMJ interview. “It was such a big part of us for six months, and if it never got a proper release, it would’ve felt funny to us.”
Having a big-name producer is typically synonymous with moving up and on in the world, and further away from any punk beginnings, but the five-piece have retained a fuzzy sound and a D.I.Y. feeling. In fact, the EP is also out as a cassette on Burger. The EP’s other main highlight isn’t a new track, either. “Mallrats” was released to the great wide internet last summer, yet, unlike “Other Lives,” it hadn’t been a focus of attention. But it’s the epitome of caution-to-the-wind American garage rock: tricksy babes, push-up bras, little girls in short skirts hangin’ at the food court and a chorus that goes “la la la la la la la la.” Here we have a new version of the track, which, like the Sitek version of “Other Lives” is neatened, equalized and still sloppily perfect.
“Blood Bubbles,” another of Other Lives‘ previously unreleased songs, is the EP’s slow jam and as such, it’s also proof that The Orwell’s strength is in in-your-face rock, not easy balladry. While short like the 2-minute punk anthems, “Head” is a combination of lo-fidelity scuzz and reverb-laden psychedelia. Hormones a’ ragin’ and guitars a’ shredding, the Other Voices EP is a concentrated dose of American teen fun.