Friday, June 8, 2012

Pistop: Mandolin Orange


I may have only seen them live twice but one of the things I've come to except from a Bowerbirds concert is a talented opener. Enter  North Carolina duo Mandolin Orange the night's more unexpectedly pleasant surprise. I arrived at the Bowerbirds most recent New York stop expecting solely one opener in the form of Dry the River whose music I had already been exposed to and knew I liked so you can imagine my surprise when Andrew Marlin and Emily Frantz took to the stage with guitar, fiddle, and friend Josh Oliver in tow.

What followed was a thoroughly enjoyable set of folksy, rootsy Americana - the band's self-described country pop. The kind that's welcome even to those like me who prefer to stay as far away from country music as feasibly possible. It's hard to say what exactly sets Mandolin Orange apart for the tons of other folk acts gunning for you attention, perhaps it's that they aren't. The duo have a rather laidback style of songwriting that still manages to highlight their remarkable talents, heart-stirring lyricism, and intoxicating harmonies. There's also the fact that the vast majority of instruments you'll hear from them on their records or see at their live set are played by the twosome themselves (there's guests enlisted to fill out the rest).

Mandolin Orange play a sort of updated Appalachian-infused folk that really doesn't get nearly enough play. Which is sort of a shame. The duo are as equally at home playing traditional folk tunes as they are playing their own traditional-leaning originals and the young band already have two albums under their belt 2010's Quiet Little Room and a double album Haste Make/Hard-Hearted Stranger released late last year. And Mandolin Orange show no signs of stopping any time soon; a fact I certainly couldn't be more pleased with that as the duo's darkly themed but never depressing brand of accessible country pop hits all the right spots.

You can listen to their most recent album over on Spotify as well as check out their upcoming tour dates on their Website here.

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