Author: Russell Brock
When Universal absorbed the Geffen record label, many happily signed musicians in the middle of recording their new albums were told to clear out. One of those castaways was Orenda Fink. One day, she was singing melodious, pop punk tunes into her guitar pickups for the Geffen band Little Red Rocket; the next, she was back out on the streets of Athens, Georgia, along with the rest of the band, searching for another money machine. Sounds rough, but Fink and fellow guitarist Maria Taylor will tell you the demise of Geffen might have been the best thing that ever happened to them. Leaving Little Red Rocket cartwheeling in outer space, the two Southern-charm cuties formed Azure Ray, a shockingly pop-free band that, on this new EP, unleashes whispering confessionals instead of explosive happiness. Perhaps they've only grown up: the duo have certainly moved into heavier lyrics as an outlet for their pent-up melancholy, while the Prozac of Little Red Rocket has trickled out of their systems. Fink and Taylor strip their arrangements down to the barest essentials-acoustic guitars, hushed voices and the occasional background loop-to create harmonies so soft and smooth they seem to disown the weight of the lyrics. Call it gravitas without gravity. But the last thing they're interested in is forcing sadness into their songs-Fink admits they usually start writing after they begin plummeting downward from a fun time. If that doesn't sound healthy, check out November's title track, which sounds like they're having their hearts cut out with disposable knives, accepting them back with a smile, and sharing the memory with you. Bring a bottle because it's beautiful.