New Sounds: The Orwells excel at being ‘Terrible Human Beings’


There are bands that are rambunctious and then there’s The Orwells. The Chicago rock and roll phenoms have become notorious for their live performances, and it seems everyone has a story about seeing them live. For example, last time I saw The Orwells it was at Brighton Music Hall and someone threw a shoe at frontman Mario Cuomo. Who throws a shoe?

Last Friday (February 17), The Orwells released their latest album, Terrible Human Beings, and it’s the antithesis to their devil may care image. It exhibits these kids finding musical maturity with a majority of tracks being rhythmically tight in astounding fashion. Listen to it below via Spotify.

With this, their major label follow up to 2014’s Disgraceland, via Atlantic Records, The Orwells bring a youthful swagger. Cuomo leads a sonic arsenal of guitarists Dominic Corso and Matt O’Keefe and the brotherly rhythm section of bassist and drummer Grant and Henry Brinner. There’s a vintage pop style that finds a way of glossing over each song along with a lot of the material maintaining a distinct catchiness. From being in the studio with producer Jim Abbiss, who notably worked on both Arctic Monkeys’ and Adele’s acclaimed debut releases, the band’s new album sounds the most polished out of all their releases thus far. It’s a progression that has fans already wondering what the next album will bring.


With tiny psychedelic hints of spookiness “They Put A Body In The Bayou” has Henry kicking the song off with a drum beat reminiscent of a Creedence Clearwater Revival jam. “Black Francis”has Corso and O’Keefe’s guitars shredding into infinity. The backing harmonies that are abundant convey vintage pop and they compliment Cuomo’s wails. Two punk tracks that are equal in emphasis and tightness are “Fry” and “Buddy”, both of them are lightning quick with constant energy flowing from start to finish. There’s an understated variety within the album that’s also refreshing.

A couple days before taking the stage at the Governors Ball Music Festival in New York City, The Orwells will be invading The Sinclair in Cambridge on June 2. Whether someone throws a shoe again or the kids from Chicago keep it together to put on a crazy awesome time, people won’t be forgetting it.

Featured Orwells photo by Kelly Puleo.

Orwells Cambridge