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SWINE New Band of the Month - Tainted Orange

By Alan Metcalfe 

When you think of musical hotbeds, in this green and unpleasant land, the usual conurbations come to mind.  Liverpool, of course, has been name-checked, off and on, since the early 60's, as has Manchester.  London, for all it's faults, has still produced several bands of note, and even the City that time almost forgot, Birmingham and its environs, has spawned a few half-decent artistes (provided your tastes extend only as far, say, as Black Sabbath, Duran Duran, or Ned's Atomic Dustbin).  And, even today, nearly thirty years on, Postcard Records' 'sound of young Scotland' casts its Aztec Camera / Orange Juice / Josef K influence on a whole host of Celtic combos.  Wales?  Well, yeah, it gave us the likes of Catatonia, Goldie Lookin' Chain, and Shakin' Stevens, but The Principality has bought itself an amnesty with the Manic Street Preachers and The Alarm (no sniggering at the back - I loved' em!).  And across on the Emerald Isle (not the Isle of Man, although I hear that you really should check out the Douglas Drum 'n Bass scene), all I need to say is The Undertones and Stiff Little Fingers.  Oh, yes.  Yeah, okay, I'll give you U2 as well.
But what of the South-West?  What, indeed.  Even a city as big as Bristol can boast only Massive Attack and - tenuously - Portishead.  An outrage, really, when you consider that somewhere infinitely smaller, like Wigan, is home to The Verve, The Ting Tings and, er, Rick Astley.  Elsewhere, in what was once called 'Cider Country', I can only think of Elkie Brooks and The Wurzels who have troubled the charts, although I understand that 80's three-hit wonder, Howard Jones, is a resident of that rather lovely part of the world.  As was Joe Strummer.
But things are about to change.  Something is stirring south of the Wash - Taunton to be precise - and it's a young band who go by the name 'Tainted Orange'.  A four-piece - all still at school I believe - they possess an energy and a passion that is testament to their youth and vitality, and I have played their CD, 'Helium Hamster', non-stop over a depressingly precipitous weekend, as the rain fell hard on my humdrum town.  And, hey, can they play?!  I should say so! Traditional / classic line-up of drums, bass, guitars and vox, these new kids on the block really do the business.  They have tunes (remember when songs had tunes?)!  They come close to revealing their influences, but only in tantalising snippets (when you are thinking, "now who did that sound a bit like?") but nothing is ripped-off or derivative, and on tracks like "It's Real", "On Mars", "That Street" and "Little Big Man", they show massive potential and a glorious originality.  Indeed, quite rare for a demo, none of the nine cuts on 'Helium Hamster' sound weak, or are there solely as a filler.  Overall, this is great stuff, and highly recommended.  Tainted Orange are a band that's going places and, when the West Country rocks, it will sound like this.
That 'Helium Hamster' track-listing in full
  • It's Real
  • Criticize
  • My Time
  • The Give Away
  • On Mars
  • That Street
  • Mr J
  • Kids
  • Little Big Man



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