Mock Orange
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Mock Orange

Santa Barbara, California, United States | INDIE

Santa Barbara, California, United States | INDIE
Band Alternative Rock


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"Band Once Again Deliver, AP Once Again Not Surprised"

Rocks Like:
-Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
-Ryan Adams' Easy Tiger
-The Shins' Chutes Too Narrow

Never has there been a band more worth truly rooting for. The pride of Evanston, Indiana, Mock Orange have consistently delivered challenging and interesting interpretations of emo and indie rock nearly impossible to compare to their peers. Unfortunately, the band's artistic success hasn't translated into acknowledgment from the general public, keeping Mock Orange one of the Midwest's best-kept secrets for more than 10 years. Ideally, that should change with Captain Love, a heartland masterpiece as relaxing as it is invigorating.

While the band's first offering in four years plays rather similar to 2004's Mind is Not Brain, they let loose and are more percussive and dynamic than before. The banjo-infused ballad "Old Movies" is a bit of a curve-ball, but it somehow segues between two stronger-paced ballads and effortlessly conjures up a vision of the sun setting over a Kansas wheat field. Heath Metzger once again proves he's one of the most inventive drummers going (particularly on the flashy "Majestic Raincoat"), and front-man Ryan Grisham and guitarist Joe Asher continue their unique and clever brand of guitar interplay (they really fall in love with note bending on this one). Captain Love may not tear up the Billboard charts, but look for it on a lot of the better "top 10" lists at year's end. - Alternative Press

"Mock Orange-Captain Love"

Mock Orange's sixth album trips into your life with a mild-mannered, outsider adorabiliy. 'Song in D' bobs and swirls with the same oddball lure that's seen the Indiana four-piece playing understudy to the likes of Built to Spill. - NME

"Mock Orange-Captain Love"

Mock Orange hit me like a wave. At first, I was strangely shocked by how eccentric it was. Very quickly thereafter, I realized that what I was listening to wasn't just peculiar, it was strange and wonderful at the same time. What threw me off at first had to have been the unique vocals of Ryan Grisham combined with the quirky and stylish guitaring from both Grisham and lead guitarist Joe Asher. Together, the two elements of the music combine seamlessly to create a strange but yet fun atmosphere.

Somehow, Captain Love finds a way to stay completely upbeat throughout the course of the album. While indie rock is normally commended for it's moodiness and emotional content, it never shines better than when Mock Orange is putting their own upbeat spin on it. The songs aren't moody, they aren't depressing, and they aren't really all that emotional. However, once you start spinning this album, you aren't going to care that it's missing those "key components" of the genre.

It's hard to choose which part of the orchestration leads this album. Having to choose between Grisham's strange vocal talents and the excellent 2-pronged guitar attack is like having to choose between super-strength and flying: you just have to have them both or the other won't seem nearly as enjoyable. Grisham's vocals are just peculiar enough to make them sound unique, which is a great, great feat in any genre today. The guitars remain quirky and expressive throughout the entire album. They may be a little less pronounced than the vocals, but you can feel them enthusiastically bouncing up and down across the tracks as Grisham lays down the lyrics. The lyrics deserve a note of their own. Lines like "We are so serious/ about everything/ check out this ring/ I got it from a chi-ld/ working on a land-mine/ oh isn't that crazy" really set up the feel for the album.

Even when Captain Love slows itself down a bit, the songs are pure gold. The folky "Old Movies" is a prime example of this. It moves slower than the other tracks, but that just adds more time for the vocals and lyrics to sink in. Another great thing about this band is that I can't really put my finger on their sound. They may not be pioneers, but it's hard to say that they write generic music in any way. They've been pigeonholed into the indie rock genre, but at the same time, I couldn't name a single band that I think sounds extremely similar to them. Their sound is original, cohesive, and has a style all of it's own.

This is one of those albums that's instantly accessible yet still a great listen weeks later down the road. Very few albums strike me that way anymore, and when one does, I know that I've happened upon something great. I can say with confidence that Mock Orange's Captain Love is easily one of the best albums I've heard so far this year. - Absolute Punk

"Mock Orange-Captain Love"

Carnivalesque, bombastic, and strikingly original, the third release from Mock Orange is a splendid album by an exciting and burgeoning band. It can be confidently stated that nearly a decade in the undercurrent, Captain Love elevates the Evansville, Indiana quartet to the echelon of America's premier indie rock bands.
The composition throughout Captain Love is as creatively intricate and innovative as any release in recent memory. While it’s long been commonplace in the American indie vein to utilize distortion, noise and craning electric guitars to further obscure inane lyricism or shroud novice musicianship, Mock Orange creates a brand of chaos that only further solidifies the robust foundation of each tune.

From the heroic, surfy cadence of the albums eponymous first track, singer/guitarist Ryan Grisham competently helms a rowdy dissidence that lasts the entire twelve tracks without relent; "I’m gonna be a man tomorrow /We’ve got a serious problem/I’m tired/But I still have this strong desire…"

The bands talent and synergy are indisputable, anchored by the engaged prowess of percussionist Heath Metzger, who is as pivotal to the ambiance and pace of each track as Grisham’s sardonic harmonies.

“Song in D,” and the fantastic “Smile On” are particularly brilliant examples of their skill. There has not been a crackling, classic indie rock tune anchored by a profuse, driving, oar of a bassline like “Smile On” since the halcyon hay day of indie kings Archers of Loaf, Silkworm et al.

Tracks like “World of Machines,” “Motel Man” and “Majestic Raincoat” – the records more reticent moments – are equally as impressive. Grisham’s lyrics – which have an unbending tendency to the intelligently obscure – are always at home within the confines of Mock Orange’s well presented harmonic cohesion. Grisham’s voice and delivery – a relatable, Everyman tenor with scattered inclusions of spoken word - is cleverly wrapped and layered throughout, but never loses its infectious, poppy, wry allure.

Captain Love is indeed, on the whole, a throwback to what made indie rock bands great; jocular, propellant lyrics, catchy hooks, adventurous experimentation with tempo and form, and above all, raucous songwriting you can holler along to. - Delusions of Adequacy

"Mock Orange-Captain Love"

Why must every full-length from Mock Orange be ‘long-awaited’?! The eternal indie underdogs have been plagued with label issues and while I don’t know details except the dick move George Lucas pulled on Dead Droid, I do know that their five major releases have four different logos on their backsides. I have followed the band closely for a decade -- I can’t think of many other groups with that distinction -- and I want to see the guys break out; some label consistency certainly wouldn’t hurt. Hopefully Wednesday holds on to ‘em and helps these Hoosiers release their next one in less than four frickin’ years! Before I get to Captain Love, if you want to hear this fanboy spend nearly 1,300 words ranting about love for their past stuff, check out my review for 2004’s Mind is Not Brain. I realize the challenges I face writing an objective review here, so I will try my best.

After the sonic turning point of the First EP, these long-time friends have spent the last six years perfecting their Southern-tinged angle on guitar-led, groove-layin’ indie rock steeped in the Modest Mouse and Built to Spill traditions, leaving their first two albums as perfectly-executed yet less-unique stepping stones. The guys come at’cha full-bore with the opening title track, though they reel in the reins on the tempo opting for one of those head-bobbin’ beats they do so well. We also find the first sign of increased keyboard usage with a high squealing synth tone doubling the vocal melody. The keys here are always relegated to supporting roles but their bigger presence is noticeable: the spacey line towards the end of “Majestic Raincoat” or the chiming verse tones and wiggly chorus line on “Lila” among others. But overall, the group has undergone the least amount of stylistic changes here, and that’s a good thing after the commitment issues of their previous life.

“World of Machines” showcases the wide range of guitar tones and styles the band utilizes, from the lighter, cleaner funk tones in the verse, the fluid lead near the end and that squiggly guitars-in-jello thing in that little breakdown 1½ minutes in. Intense vibrato and pitch-bending as well as frequent slide usage on Joe Asher’s guitar leads defines their now-cemented sound alongside Ryan Grisham’s unmistakable voice and ever-stronger falsetto. Standout and long-time MySpace staple “Song in D” struts like mad in the chorus with a cool brassy guitar line and the unshakable foundation of bassist Zach Grace and Heath Metzger, who has long been one of my favorite drummers despite not having as many show-off moments as in their faster, punkier days. “Motel Man” starts with odd measures causing a stutter-step in their strut along with a sweet elastic bassline as the rhythm section shines yet again.

“Relax and Degrade” finds the band turning the tempo down a tad and while it’s a weaker track in comparison to the rest of the album, it’s a nice change of pace. Mastering ballads that fit their style should be next on the band’s to-do list. And while lyrics are more like frosting on the cake for me, often I have no idea what Grisham is singing about and wish he took a plain-spoken approach at times. Take the second verse of “Song in D” for example: "When the rain came we made a name / Broke up the game / Counted the blades of grass and killed the first child / Wasn’t it us?" Say what?

Although it’s an instrumental and less than a minute long, “Ms. Brown’s Morning Cup” is worth mentioning. I’m not sure if the band would agree with me, but that guitar line and the airy nature of this transitional track sound vaguely Japanese to me, something I noticed with “Segue” off of Mind. It’s pretty sweet no matter how you define it. Picking up where Mind’s folk-blues ditty “I Can’t Seem to Think” left off is “Old Movies.” It’s as outright bluegrass as they’ve ever been yet fits perfectly into the group’s aesthetic, and the song succeeds on a sole melodic idea used to its full potential over intertwined guitar lines. It’s the intended closer, and I wish it were the last thing you would hear. They tacked on older post-Mind song “Beauty of a Scar” as a bonus for the U.S. release. I’m glad they included this strong track, but “Old Movies” makes a better true closer.

I’ve been lucky to have had Captain Love a long time prior to this release and have listened to it countless times. I like it more each time I hear it, although I don’t think it’s the perfect record Mind is Not Brain was. Perhaps that record had the distinction of being the first full-length in their impressive new shoes, but I still think it had a pinch more ‘hits.’ I tried to find more things wrong with Captain Love as to not come off as such a rabid fan, but alas, I fell short. If my ravings can convince at least a few of you to finally check out this band, then I’ve done my job, because those people will then surely go on to rave to their friends and so on. I believe Grisham when he says "Not one ounce do I care ab -

"Mock Orange-Captain Love"

Captain Love, the 2008 album by Mock Orange, hooked me from the start. The first comparison I drew was to early-1990s Radiohead, with maybe a dash of Ok Go thrown in for good measure. Then I started thinking no, this was more like Nada Surf, or maybe, oddly enough, The Polyphonic Spree. That’s it. More and more, I’ve been drawing similarities to The Polyphonic Spree, minus all the crazy instrumentation. The overall sound, especially the lyrics, seems to contain an unbridled happiness. I’m all for smiles and good times, and Captain Love feels like genuinely happy music. I’m guessing they’re a bunch of hopeless, glass-is-half-full types.

Though you’ve probably not heard of them before, Mock Orange has been around a while. In fact, they released their first album, Open Sunday, in 1995. Since then, Mock Orange has released a total of seven albums, including their most recent, Captain Love. Over the course of their career, Mock Orange has performed in Europe, North America, and Asia, building a substantial following in the process. They have played alongside bands like Minus the Bear, NOFX, The Band Apart, and Hey Mercedes. Additionally, their music has been used by the likes of CSI Miami, Viva La Bam, and ESPN.

If I had to pick a favorite part of Mock Orange’s sound, I would go with their vocals, hands down. There really is no contest. Lead singer Ryan Grisham gives an excellent performance on Captain Love, managing to sound simultaneously reserved and passionate.

He rarely belts out his lyrics, as is the case with many rock vocalists (although it is a treat on the occasion that he does). Instead, Grisham falls into a loose, relaxed sound that perfectly matches the playing style of the guitars and drums. Or, maybe they match him perfectly; I can’t be sure.

Whatever the case, these guys have their act together. Over the years, they’ve refined their sound to the point that everything flows naturally – there is no strain whatever, and every song feels perfectly put together.

The opening track, also named “Captain Love,” is a whimsical song with absolutely incredible backup vocals. The first eight seconds are gorgeous, with a full, rich sound. Vocals and guitars blend exquisitely. Pass the first eight seconds, however, and the song rolls into a simple, strong chorus. The lyrics proclaim, “I’m gonna be a man tomorrow,” and in continuation, “Let’s go fight like men tomorrow.” The vocals are the backbone of this song. In truth, the same can be said for every song on the album.

Not to say that the vocals are all that’s worth listening to. “Lila,” the fifth track in, is my favorite of the group. From the start of the song it caught me with a guitar lick. It’s simple and repetitive, but oh so catchy. The rest of the song builds and builds, eventually reaching a chorus that is nothing less than triumphant. Seriously, that’s how I felt when I heard it. I wanted to stand on top of my desk and throw my fist into the air or something.

When all is said and done, Captain Love has earned a spot in my regular rotation of music for the foreseeable future. The truth of the matter is that this album doesn’t just have one or two good songs, as many do. The whole thing is good; songs like “Majestic Raincoat” and “Supergang” add depth to Mock Orange’s sound and really round out the experience. I loved this album because I was constantly trying to compare them to other bands, and never quite hitting the nail on the head. My suspicion is that this is because there is no nail to hit – Mock Orange is doing their thing, and doing it well. I look forward to collecting more of their work (I hear Mind is not Brain is good). - Blogcritics

"Mock Orange-Captain Love"

Yes! Bring on the '90s revivalists! This decade is due for some sort of renaissance. Disregard the fact that many of the key bands -- Built to Spill, Superchunk, Modest Mouse -- still exist in some form, and that the creative engines behind others -- Pavement, Archers of Loaf, Sebadoh -- are still quite active. We need more weird, meandering guitar solos and off-key, non-traditional vocal stylings. We need anthemic American-style indie rock. Best country on the planet (for indie rock)!

These guys, Mock Orange, have been around for a long time. Their first couple of records were steeped in the post-Pavement/Sunny Day millennial "emo" style -- not in the manner of a revival, they were actually there. And, while they moved toward a purer Modest Mouse-influenced sound as the "emotional rock" scene soured like so much milk, they maintained the tunefulness of the best the genre had to offer. More octave chords would be nice, but that's splitting hairs. This album is no mere pastiche, either -- they have established a firm identity of their own, employing building blocks and genre signifiers in unique and creative patterns.

In the past, Mock Orange appear to have slipped through the cracks, despite their consistently excellent output. Every record seems to come out on some brand new indie label, and subsequently sink with nary a trace. The labels seem to fold soon after. These guys could've made a pretty good career for themselves as cult heroes if they'd aimed a little lower, closer to the ground, etc., but you have to admire their pluck. Right now, they're a real powerhouse, and this record suggests a band in complete control of their identity, armed with a captivating and fully realized sound. -

"Mock Orange-Captain Love"

Despite an up and down career (they were once sued by George Lucas!) Mock Orange maintains a cheery veneer on Captain Love - a stylish pop record brimming with orchestral aspirations, yet rendered with a gritty fervor. Singer/guitarist Ryan Grisham's vocal timber is eerily similar to the dreaded (in some circles) Geddy Lee or, better yet, the perpetually charming Flaming Lip Wayne Coyne when the Oklahoman (rarely) sings on key. However that aural quirk works to Mock's advantage, especially when Grisham waxes ironic in "Song in D," snidely intoning "we are so serious…about everything…check out this ring…I got it from a child…working in a land-mine ...isn't that crazy?" As Grisham's surrealistic references abound guitarist Joe Asher, bassist Zach Grace, and drummer Heath Metzger assume a number of musical guises: glam rockers ("World Of Machines"), Hendrix disciples (" Supergang"), and neo-jazzers ("Relax And Degrade"). Sorry Frank, it's really Mock Orange's world, and we're just living in it. - Amplifier Magazine

"Mock Orange-Captain Love"

Extremely well arranged smart progressive pop. The guys in Mock Orange have been creating music for about a decade now. They've had their ups and downs along the way...while never losing sight of their central mission. Recorded in Nashville, Tennessee and produced by Jeremy Ferguson, Captain Love finds the band sounding as vital and captivating as ever. The album features twelve progressive mid-tempo pop compositions with nice flowing melodies and intricate arrangements. Although the band does experiment with their instruments at times, the overall sound of Captain Love is extremely accessible. That is to say, millions of pop fans could easily appreciate this album. The band's unusual vocals are definitely a trademark of their sound. At times it would be nice to have a break from the constant thick, dense wall of voices...but given the strength of the tunes, this seems like a relatively minor thing to be whining about (!). Groovy hummable tunes include "Captain Love," "Smile On," "Motel Man," and "Old Movies." (Rating: 5) - Babysue


Captain Love (2008)
Daniels EP (2006)
Mind in Not Brain (2004)
First EP (2002)
The Record Play (2000)
Nines and Sixes (1998)



For the past ten years indie rock troubadours Mock Orange have continued to produce some of the best, most interesting and intricate records the genre has to offer. The band has followed these records with relentless touring over three continents, performing alongside bands like Rogue Wave, Ted Leo, and Minus the Bear.

On September 9, 2008, Mock Orange released its latest offering, Captain Love, on Wednesday Records. The album has been Mock Orange's most critically acclaimed record to date.

Captain Love was recorded over the better part of last year in Nashville, Tennessee with producer Jeremy Ferguson (Be Your Own Pet, Josh Rouse). Punctuated by the engaging artwork of Kathleen Lolley (My Morning Jacket's Z), the album picks up where Mind Is Not Brain left off and proves to be Mock Orange's most ambitious and affecting release to date.