The Orange Constant - Point of Reference CD

"The Orange Constant, formerly based in Statesboro and now in Athens, GA, has returned with their second outing entitled Point of Reference. Two years have passed, nearly, since their debut Time to Go in the summer of 2015, in case any of you have forgotten or never knew about it in the first place (check it out either way, if you're into funky, unassuming, well-tailored rock n' roll music). In those two years, bassist Will Goggans has left the band and has been replaced by Tyler Walker, who also contributes vocals. The band has claimed that this change in lineup allowed them to tighten up their sound and explore new ideas, and the evidence of that is in this set of nine songs, the first of which, "Float", is the longest OC song yet at just over 7 minutes, narrowly eclipsing "Good Intention" from the last album. Now, inevitably, discussing this album begs the comparison with the debut, and we'll get to that, but first Point of Reference demands to be taken on its own terms, which is a showcase of eclectic rock n' roll, everything from blissful southern rock and indie jams to urban funk and moody nocturnal pieces like the late night cigarette blues in "Fortunate". The glossy production and even pacing of the album also adds to its strengths, making it both a good roadtrip album and a solid party record. There's less of a straightforward punch here than on Time to Go, as the band seamlessly blends into some added keys and piano landscapes and even some sections of brass and sax. The band also sounds more confident than ever, perhaps as a result of Walker's addition, but more importantly this set of songs stands out more than Time to Go's ten tracks largely because of the aforementioned exploration of new ideas. One thing to be said about the debut is that, from everything I'd heard by The Orange Constant up to that point, it didn't really offer any real surprises. Point of Reference does surprise, not just in its use of brass and a more somber tone on a few tracks but also in the delivery of musical phrases and in the structure of tracks like "Float", "Red Ryder", and the title track. Thus Point of Reference really is the best kind of sophomore album, one that expands a group's sound and keeps it just as thoroughly engaging as before, rather than repeating statements from the debut with lesser results. Any fans of the OC reading this have no excuse not to pick up a copy for themselves, and to anyone for whom the name is unfamiliar, give this album a listen. You'll be glad you did."

- by Grant Purvis