Coming ashore from a Pacific Ocean-sized sea of reverb, the self-titled first EP from Orchin touches all the shoegaze pleasure centers: it’s moody, it’s slow, the vocals are so warm and buried they may as well be sung from under a blanket. Led by L.A.-via-Sydney songwriter/multi(every)-instrumentalist Jeremy McLennan, Orchin are impressive scholars of indie movements past, but McLennan gives his bedroom project more than enough of a voice to make his songs transcend their influences. It’s obsessive, wildly nostalgic, lovingly fussed-over and hand made, and reminds us that “personal music” is at its best when it has something personal to say, awesome wall of guitars or not. An auspicious debut for sure.
To provide a little more context from the inside, McLennan has this to say about his record:
Orchin is a look into my diary from the second half of 2016. I came up with the concept for the EP when working on an early demo of “Never In Doubt” - this was the first one that I started on and the last one I finished. The song is a note to self to stay humble and grateful when things are good. An artist’s life is a pretty constant cycle of self confidence and self doubt, and I started thinking that “Never In Doubt” would mean a lot more in that context. It’s a light at the end of the tunnel, placed last on the record.
“Zero” is the other end of the spectrum. It’s a flurry of memories from moments of insecurity, and the way it builds is meant to reflect the nature of anxiety, how it can start from the smallest thought and swallow you. “Ego Deathbed” is in the same vein, it’s about how your ego swings you up and down. I wanted it to sound really menacing, like the inevitable wave of doubt is right on your heels even on your best days. “Corners” finds peace in realizing your insignificance when you empathize with other people, feel the weight of their love and pain. I wrote it about an old man I saw sitting at the corner of the bar at Smog Cutter, this divey karaoke bar in LA. You could see the decades of failures and successes in his face, and he looked like he was doing alright.
When we were making Orchin, I was listening to a lot of Arthur Russell, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Kate Bush, Joy Division… all music with a lot of weird, unnerving space. I wanted all these songs to be a little confrontational and uncomfortable. The record is a formal introduction to Orchin and, for me, the real starting point for the project.
Orchin, which was self-released, is now available to stream in its entirety right on this very page courtesy of the band’s Soundcloud.