Upon first listen to Wild Sweet Orange, there probably are lots of cities that come to mind if you try to guess where the Preston Livinggood-led indie band calls home.
No, Birmingham, Alabama didn’t even enter my first 25 cities, but fortunately Alabama has rubbed WSO the right way because this quintet (Matt Parsons and Taylor Shaw — guitar, Garrett Kelly — bass, Chip Kilpatrick — drums) carries both rural charm and southern sweetness to its music. WSO describes their music as being “fun for the whole family” (press release).
There’s an overarching laid-back casualness throughout this EP. Even with the opening uptempo “Wrestle With God” (mp3 here), underneath the slight frustration and uncertainty, there’s a longing for peace and calm (“Sometimes at night on dark highways / I pull the car over and listen for trains”), which the song’s Pink Floyd-esque denouement accentuates.
Preston’s songwriting is unusually mature, and “Tilt” has a focused youthfulness (“Hardwood floors carry sounds / they carry slow to my ears some words that I can’t recognize / But I’m trying hard to hear / Cause my eyes can’t find what that they’re looking for down here”) similar to Conor Oberst and Bright Eyes, who the band does cite as influences on its own music.
The EP’s best song is “Be Careful What You Want.” It beautifully combines Wild Sweet Orange’s strengths by managing to produce a caring, yet laid-back mood, while also having firm and passionate lyrics. Unfortunately this album only has five total tracks and that makes me have to wait anxiously for the band’s full-length release sometime next year. Grr.