I caught Collective Soul in 2008, and the group Green River Ordinance was opening the House of Blues at half-capacity. The group was still quite a few months shy of releasing their debut album ‘Out of My Hands.’ It was a slick collection of pop songs, akin to Gavin Degraw (who also opened at the show) and Maroon 5 prior to their massive dance hits. A little Pat Monahan, a little Augustana. At the time, the group seemed to be, a lot of little parts of many other groups.
I had no knowledge of them or any of their music, but they soon launched, bursting with success, blaring their infectious concoction of 90’s rock, contemporary alternative, and a splash of folk. Green River Ordinance (despite my absolute disdain of their name), left an impression on me that night, that I am revisiting now with the release of their new album, Under Fire.
I usually find a group’s second album to be a step in the wrong direction, usually a devaluing of their sound from before. ‘Under Fire’ is a bold step forward. It’s impressive, and embraces a new side of their music that had previously bordered on being a lukewarm derivative; and has now blossomed into something much better and different.
My impression is this- Green River Ordinance were tired of being compared to other contemporary musical acts and opted to be more like ‘Green River Ordinance.’ The group sounds more confident, more sincere, and less cookie-cutter. ‘Heart of Me’ cascades and soars on an absolutely breathtaking melody. ‘Resting Hour’ is a more traditional rock ballad, but is heightened by a sensational vocal performance and some quality song arrangements. The group tries for more atmospheric electronics with ‘Crawling’ and succeeds with unrivaled success. The album closes with a piano-lead ballad called ‘Lost in the World.’ For some, it’s a silly cheese ball of a song. For others, it’s a touching and gorgeous arrangement that speak directly to the listener. It could go either way.
The group does get a little cheesy here and there, but that is par for the course for being a modern alt-rock band trying to stake a claim outside the walls of indie-pop. But it takes an almost unnatural concentration for the group to take such impressive steps forward in their sound. Going from traditional rock group to full-fledged dynamic group, experimenting with multiple genres with full splendor is marvelous. Perhaps this was all organic and natural. But something tells me Green River Ordinance refined their influences and crafted purposeful songs that were original and invigorating, without relying on generic pop rock. At every turn, the group impress wonderfully.
To connect with Green River Ordinance, visit their site by clicking HERE.
About Ryan Merkel
Ryan Merkel is a writer on music, pop culture, entertainment, business, and all those other fun things which make life tick. He is an entrepreneur, designer, and overall pop culture enthusiast. Ryan owns the clothing line LoveMended with his wife, which focuses on fashion and charity, as well as the music blog CultureTease. Ryan is the author of two novels, and currently lives in Florida.