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Palace of Oranges 

Prepare to Greet a Guest (Rubric)

While the '80s indie rock scene spawned a number of notable bands and unheralded achievements, nothing stood out so much as the unbridled sonic guitar fuzz that seemed to permeate every disc, both acclaimed and long-forgotten, during the era. Bands as disparate as My Bloody Valentine and Dinosaur Jr. exposed a singular affection for swirling, six-string chaos. The folks in Palace of Oranges obviously took serious notes during this veritable onslaught of feedback and open tunings. The gurgling buzz that kept independent-minded '80s rock bands fueled with a manic creativity and an absolute energy serves as the primer onto which Palace of Oranges splatters its own colorful if familiar guitar portraiture. Prepare to Greet a Guest, quite simply, comes off like a hot sampler and a testament of sorts to the days when guitar cacophony defined the true alternative.

Opening with a squeal of feedback that plows headfirst into "Ride My Bike to Istanbul" (even the titles nod in adoration to '80s indie rock), Palace of Oranges quickly embraces nostalgia with the unrepentant guitar histrionics of a J. Mascis, only to reel listeners into the swelling pop undercurrent that surely attempts to define itself as something different. Yet it's in the familiar that the Oranges succeed magnificently. The Sonic Youth noodling that ends "Rind" is spectacular, the Feelies-esque vocals (particularly on the fine "Power of the Afro") that slide across song after song are comforting and assured, and the band's reach is long enough to successfully incorporate something like Galaxie 500 on "It's a Chill." But nothing the Palace of Oranges does is all that obvious. Casting such a wide net over an era that never seemed to be heard when it was "in" is hardly a career move -- but doing it with such vigor is heady stuff.

More by Kurt Hernon

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