A few decades back, a band of prolific and legendary songwriting talents came together to meld their varied styles into one cohesive whole. George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison, and Jeff Lynne with their powers combined were known as the Traveling Wilburys releasing two albums in their brief time together in late 80’s.
Over in the west side of NJ in Trenton, a rising five piece known as Roy Orbitron have paid homage to these heroes and influencers by taking a sharp left turn away from the acoustic stomp of “Tweeter & The Monkey Man”. Their initial two releases were DIY 12″ vinyl splits with the North Jersey’s Huge Pupils (“George Harrison”) and Philly’s Rasputin’s Secret Police (“Thomas Earl Petty”).
Now Roy Orbitron has stepped out with the least ELO sounding full length record you’ll hear with Jeffrey Lynne. The rollicking 8 track effort rages and with breakneck rhythms at one juncture and hangs out over surf rock waves at others. Lead singer and songwriter Conor Meara’s low, effect mixed vocal plays more like Ariel Pink than the soaring lovesick croon of Orbison, which compliments the album’s fuzzed out tone just right.
Opener “Rain Jawn” laments the conflicted emotion of feeling something for someone special that you just can’t seem to muster the strength to embrace. “Why does your rain fall so hard?” Meara asks over spritely guitar fills. “Must See TV” plays as a short burst of garage rock honky tonk as drummer Dan Jefferson gets a full workout as the song builds to a clattering climax.
Early contender for song title of the year, “Jersey Sliz” shouts out the classy ladies of the night with surf backing vocals and a QOTSA run through of “your cocaine, xanax, percocets, molly, amphetamine”. Halfway through Jeffrey Lynne comes “Halfway”, a quick up and down rock romp that calls out a faraway love that literally won’t meet…well you know.
Ever regret racking up tens of thousands of dollars in debt on a degree you’ll probably never get to use. “Fuck College” can relate with the somber affectation:
“I went to college – majored in bullshit. four years, five-million beers, to hang my name on the wall and say “Mom look what I did – hey Dad, look what I did – I wasted my youth and I wasted your money too.”
“Tomato” is the PBR-bleary eyed, back of the bar at 3am chest thumper that bounces against a delirious vocal take and jagged, feedback processed guitars. The album wraps with the closest thing to a Wilburys tune in “Use Me” wherein Meara trades in a gravely effect for something a little more languid as a violin and organ take the fore to close out the affair.
With Jeffrey Lynne Roy Orbitron has showcased a knack for crafting songs with instantly relatable themes and ever evolving, eclectic hard rock passages. The former of the two lends them what they’ve drawn from their namesakes. Here’s looking forward to Robert Allen Zimmerman.