With its full-length CD Songs for the Now and Others Forever, Pittsburgh-based guitar-shimmer band Tangerine has managed to take music designed for a very specific audience -- chain-smoking Northern English heroin addicts -- and make it palatable to a much broader demographic: American urban cowboys with stolen codeine patches strapped to their shoulders, fraternity brothers selling ecstasy around the keg, homeless 'Nam vets with oxycontin secreted in Skynyrd cassette cases.
There's a unifying factor that you may have picked up on. With phaser guitar pedals, vocal reverb and fourth-beat tambourines in full effect, Tangerine's recordings make for great shoe-gazing, or late-night melancholy taxi driving, or whatever as long as there's some kind of painkiller involved. But what would you expect from a group that saw fit not only to place its cover of the Stone Roses' "I Wanna Be Adored" as the lead-off track on its full-length debut -- just like the Stone Roses did -- but to slow down the already-swirling tune. What's interesting about Tangerine's juicy little gazer numbers is that the group has managed to take 1991's Brit-bore classics (Roses, Ride, Slowdive) and inject them with the rallying-cry guitar-and-singer cult of personality of that era's American alt-rock revolution.
So you get 'choons like "Crescendo," with its "Sweet Jane" riffage and deep "couldn't get more nicotine inside of me" singing, an unlikely club-gig anthem on paper, yet a biggie if ever you've heard one, and ones like "Focus In," as much U2 stadium-ready rocker as it is "tighten the belt on my arm" shooting-gallery depresser. (In other words, it's a new "Bad.")
Unfortunately, Tangerine carries enough of the weight of its predecessors that how you feel about Songs will be thoroughly involved with how you feel about that sleeve-full of influences. While there's not much to turn anybody off, the opposite's also true: No stand-out track, no pivotal moment, even if there are a lot of emotion-toying, minor musical contradictions set to swing you around with smoky baritone vocals set against alt-rock radio riffs.
Stick with it, and Tangerine will almost certainly go far -- the band's already sparking industry interest, and in the Travis/Coldplay/Keane climate, why not? Songs for the Now and Others Forever is certainly as good as, say, most of Parachutes. But with such middle-of-the-road, producer-friendly goods coming so effortlessly for Tangerine, why doesn't the band step outside music of the market for a moment and challenge itself and its audience?