CD Review of Out of My Hands by Green River Ordinance
Green River Ordinance: Out of My Hands
Recommended if you like
Augustana, Nine Days,
matchbox twenty
Label
Virgin
Green River Ordinance:
Out of My Hands

Reviewed by Jeff Giles

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W
ith a name like Green River Ordinance, you’d expect this Texas five-piece outfit to take its cues from Creedence, but the band’s name actually refers to a common local law prohibiting door-to-door sales – and while their music may sound like "classic rock" to whippersnappers for whom the mid-‘90s represent the good old days, about the only thing they have in common with John Fogerty’s old outfit is a shared fondness for guitars and singalong choruses.

A favorite of the Awarestore crowd for several years, Green River Ordinance makes its major-label debut with Out of My Hands, and the band’s newfound big-budget gloss is apparent from the first ringing chords of "Outside," the opening track whose charging beat and surging melody are just waiting for the opening credits of an MTV reality show to call home. If Top 40 radio still existed in any recognizable form, Hands would be a love letter to it, sealed with a sloppy wet kiss and sprayed with hints of eau de Counting Crows, Third Eye Blind, matchbox twenty, and Train. Ten years ago, this album would have been huge; as it is, it just sounds shockingly quaint, a reminder of an era when pop/rock records were still a priority for the majors, and A&R reps still stayed in one place long enough to make sure the bands they signed had more than one or two solid songs on any given album.

Of course, whether Green River Ordinance’s throwback sound will make you nostalgic, or just make you want to throw up, will have everything to do with how badly you overdosed on those ‘90s bands when they were popular (or how often you’re forced to listen to their old hits in your workplace, grocery store, and/or dentist’s office). There’s no denying this stuff is immaculately crafted, but Josh Jenkins’ vaguely Duritz-ish vocals – not to mention the polished guitars and stainless steel harmonies that Shawn Grove’s mix favors – are liable to provoke an allergic reaction in anyone who heard "Push" or "Mr. Jones" a few too many times.

If you aren’t part of that group, Out of My Hands is an album full of unfamiliar pleasures – namely, rock ‘n’ roll that sounds like the work of consummate professionals, yet isn’t so market-conscious that it’s had all the life sucked out of it. Although Green River Ordinance ultimately doesn’t succeed in putting together an entire album of consistently enjoyable songs, Hands is, at the very least, a very enjoyable seven-song EP, which is more than can be said for a lot of what passes for rock music these days. Is it exceedingly polite? Absolutely, but there’s something to be said for a band that can balance pulse-quickening melodrama with soothing polish this adroitly, and even if the album eventually fades into a succession of numbingly familiar mid-tempo ballads, those first seven tracks flicker between tension and release with surprising skill. Nobody’s making records like this anymore – at least, not in the major-label system. For better or worse, Out of My Hands proves it’s still possible.

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