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Band of the Week: Peter Oren 

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MEET THE BAND: Peter Oren (vocals, guitar)

STAN'S HIS MAN: Born and raised in Columbus, Indiana, singer-songwriter Peter Oren grew up playing piano. But by high school, Oren, who possesses a rich baritone, had switched to guitar and started writing poetry. "My voice didn't start out like this," he says. "It's taken some time to develop and mature. It's deepened a bit since I was 18 or so. It wasn't a conscious decision to sing like this. It's just my natural tendency. My dad listened to this guy Stan Rogers, who was this guy from the '80s who died young. He had this deep baritone voice that had a lot of vibrato on it. That was something I was around when I was younger. We didn't listen to Johnny Cash or Leonard Cohen early on. Stan Rogers was the main subconscious vocal influence." Oren would eventually begin writing songs, and he released his debut, Living by the Light, in 2015.

AN ALL-STAR BAND: For his new album, Anthropocene, Oren worked with Ken Coomer, who used to play drums in Wilco. He offered to produce the record at his studio in Nashville. "I thought it was a good opportunity to say something of significance," says Oren. "I focus the songs around political and social struggles that I'm grappling with." Coomer recruited keyboardist Michael Webb (John Fogerty), singer Maureen Murphy (Zac Brown Band), and guitarists Sam Wilson (Sons of Bill) and Laur Joamets (Sturgill Simpson) to play on the disc.

WHY YOU SHOULD HEAR HIM: Oren has described the album's gritty single "Throw Down" as a tune for "people fighting for freedom from oppression everywhere." "That song was intended to try to express a sense of urgency that comes with people with a political motivation to change things, particularly the kind of feeling I felt with the people in the Occupy movement years ago," he says. "It's about the urgency of the situation. It's the feeling of wanting to do something immediately. There's all sorts of violence and injustice happening all around the world. I wanted to grapple with that. I struggle to find hope through the conventional channels and alternatively trying to struggle in physical material ways." Oren says he's a fan of Neil Young, and he thought the song, which becomes a real dirge thanks to Joamets' driving solo, was best served with "some emphatic playing."


WHERE YOU CAN SEE HIM: Peter Oren performs with Matthew Milia and Dolfish at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 7, at the Beachland Tavern.

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