Smashing Orange ‎– 1991

Elephant Stone Records ‎– ES1012
CD, Compilation



© 1991

12-song retrospective of tracks released in 1991 on Native Records label in the U.K.

Barcode and Other Identifiers

  • Barcode: 880481101225

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January 15, 2018
edited about 1 year ago

Weathering far too many storms in a far too short a time has led Smashing Orange (with a band name referencing The Smashing Pumpkins, as pumpkins are orange) to be radically overlooked, though that may not be the fault of the public, but of the band, who laid out far too many musical styles to attribute them to a single genre, and led to their albums sounding disjointed … even if their live events sounded far better. Though with that in mind, Smashing Orange has never really left the playing field, they just keep coming back in different uniforms, under different banners, and with differing lineups.

Formed by brother Rob and sister Sara Montejo, Smashing Orange was poised to to go somewhere, especially when they opened for Lush, though with comparisons being made to Galaxie 500, Ride, My Bloody Valentine and others, it’s easy to see that the group was touching too many bases at the same time, giving fans little space to hang their hats on, as Smashing Orange seemed forever to be in the midst of a musical flux. Even given a nod by John Peel (though he seemed to be nodding to everyone at this point in time) could not solidify their base, or put them on a memorable path.

Smashing Orange became Love American Style (formed by Rob Montejo), and he’s currently flying under the banner of The Sky Drops with Monika Bullette. Yet in all of that change, the band has not changed or modified their presentation, one that is still rather musically scattered, laying out what I think would be the new genre of shoegazer grunge … with an admittedly narrow following. Essentially you could, and should, gather all of the material from these groups and comb through it for the style that suites your shoes the best, where personally, I prefer their more enticingly smooth and haunting ethereal material that rode on the coattails of Galaxie 500.

Most perplexing is that Smashing Orange or any of its offshoots have forever been compared to other great bands of the day, while some fan critics point to groups such as Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Ambulance Ltd, and even Jason Pierce (late of Spacemen 3), as Smashing Orange being the genesis of their sound, though methinks not, and that this notion is simply an attempt to shine a bit of light on a band who went unrecognized. Which oddly enough sparks the notion put forth by Frank Zappa who said that the world would not end by war, fire or ice, but rather by an inherent need for re-bathing in the waters of nostalgia, (don’t quote me on that, the memory of the statement has just been rattling around in my head for years) and simply trying to reinvent The Velvet Underground’s “White Light White Heat,” in the end, is not going to count for very much, unless a band is very good, very inspired, and blessed with an innate ability … something Smashing Orange was not.

Please, understand that “White Light White Heat” will never go out of fashion, yet the music of Smashing Orange was out of fashion before it was committed to vinyl, a second tier band of shoegazers who were committed to a formula which they thought could circumvent actual creative annunciations, because simply knowing some sonic tricks is not going to ride anyone into the pages of history. Yes, Smashing Orange and their splinter groups had some compelling moments, but it’s their lack of originality that has left them by the roadside. That aside, the band was or sounded forever to be laced in conflict, whether it was the pop song approach, their experimental fractured bliss, or their noise factor, Smashing Orange, more aptly Rob Montejo, could not find a comfortable place to sit, thus their audience could not find a comfortable place to stand, leaving us with essentially nothing of value, as fence sitting is just a balancing act. And if you need proof of that, then look no further than the band’s monicker, which I explained at the beginning of this review.

In several interviews Rob claims that his intentions were misguided, that he wanted to create a band with a big sound, one heavy on musical and vocal harmonies … and if that’s the case, then the man should surely find someone with a less awkward delivery, though (laughing) with Rob claiming that Syd Barrett was the originator of shoegazer, and then said to a question on why Smashing Orange spilt, saying, “The band had run its creative course and the desire to be something special was forever dead. I finally realized that I could not shoulder the elephant of complacency and more forward … I needed to grow.” At that point I wanted to grab at the air and say, “But you didn’t grow, you didn’t change, you’re still a guy with a girl drummer who can sing better than you, the compliance was all on you, and I’ve no idea why you thought you needed an elephant on your shoulder, or what you fed it.”

But I just nodded and jotted down notes.

Review by Jenell Kesler