Artist: Ten Platers
CD Review: AGENT ORANGE
By: Dan Brisebois
AGENT ORANGE is the energetic debut from Ten Platers, released in July, 2008. Fronted by chief songwriter and lead vocalist/guitarist and bassist Vincent Fournier, the Langley, BC threesome is rounded out by guitarist Cole Wilson and Jamie Hale on drums.
Formed from the ashes of the group's predecessor The Way, they've honed their chops and perfected their craft since that band's 2006 debut - and it shows. You can't label Ten Platers as 'punk' or 'new age grunge'. The influences are varied, vast, and evident in AGENT ORANGE. You can hear undertones of the likes of Iggy and The Stooges, Foo Fighters and Wolfmother. But the album harkens back to a day when it was a simpler time. Listen closely and you can hear Hendrix, The Beatles, Sabbath and Zeppelin.
Recorded at Sound Marketing Studios in Surry, BC by Phil Dunet, AGENT ORANGE is one of those rare albums that grabs you by the balls from the opening riffs of the lead-off track "Coming Around" and never lets go - infectious from beginning to end. While still shining with a slick production, tracks like "Keep My Distance" and "Evolution" are examples of the band's ability to stick to simplistic melodies, giving the album a raw, live feel to it.
"All Along" is a six-minute ballad that showcases Wilson's acoustic guitar prowess in a 70s style that blossoms half-way through the song. "TV On Static" is a cynical take on modern social disengagement, isolation and sheer boredom. Listening to the drum intro and fuzz guitar in "Crutch" first automatically makes you reminisce of another era. Close your eyes and you envision the strobe lights and lava lamps, and you can't help but imagine how the song translates live on stage.
Lyrically, AGENT ORANGE taps into a wide array of emotions and rather surprising - coming from a band in its early 20s. Fournier's vocals run the gamut on the record. "Someway, Somehow" opens with a retro-industrial sounding riff that Anything but your typical ballad, "Roulette" is a heartbreaking plea and an ode to mistakes, regret, longing and forgetting. Recording this song could easily have had it wind up being a monotone drudgery. Instead, the sombreness breaks out throughout the track and keeps it vibrant.
The songwriting in general is typical of a band that has everything going for it, and everything in its power to become staples in the continuing Canadian surge in the world music scene.