Josh Reichmann’s segue into the public eye proved to fetch him some critical acclamations for Tangiers’ post-rock barnstorms. With each subsequent release, though, the frontman’s soulful lilts began to soften his punk-size fists. By the time of Tangiers’ third release, 2005’s The Family Myth, Reichmann shaped a proclivity for the kind of spiritual communalism psychedelic music can bring. His new Oracle Band is that thought’s germination.
As a runner-up to this spring’s self-produced Crazy Power, Life Is Legal’s five songs are agreeable teasers. Reichmann and company traverse through clomping soul and proto-funk numbers with fitful ease. Flute-led track’s like "Ancient Bloody Paradise (I Miss You)" are infused with the more fanciful aspects of T-Rex, circa 1968.
T-Rex’s tabla freakouts are sutured by the Oracle Band’s to-the-point rock structures, as evidenced by nippy opener "Great Shadows." A funk bass line bounces Joseph Shabason’s diaphanous sax and flute and Reichmann seemingly references Huxley’s A Brave World for the era of wiretapped denizens ("a Brave New World is on the phone"). It’s an abridged version of his new band’s aesthetic that follows for the rest of the EP. The longest song is the midnight soul and funk closing jam, "Runes." Reichmann sings of "a new age, Aquarius as a snake" like it’s as current as the 2012 apocalypse. The lyrics and composition may be distinctive throwbacks, but Oracle Band’s delivery is decidedly present.
"Plant Words" is a pretty keyboard jam session about a love-lorn man holding onto "a memory of betrayal with the throat that won’t slit." An ordinary bluesy number for sure that slides by on neat riff. The shambolic "Believe in Souls" sounds like Oracle Band throwing a hedonistic party in the face of disaster. The band switches back and forth between a warbling flute line and Niko Kwiatkowski’s beating the skins. So, yes, the freakouts eventually come, just in tight, efficient packages.
Reichmann’s "rain stick" escapism serves as both a niggling detriment and a cosseted asset. Reichmann’s new musical outlet is a refreshing novelty from most modern rock bands, including his old outfit. A modern group that utilizes flutes and saxophones can gather attention quickly but one can’t help but speculate whether they’re just window dressings on a dilapidated building.