Rain Perry, Ojai’s favorite female singer-songwriter slash supermom (best known for her song “Beautiful Tree,” which was used as the theme song for the TV show Life Unexpected) is back with her latest release, Men. The 10-song, fan-funded affair finds the songstress in a reflective mood, musing on relationships and life. The excellent lead track, “Get in the Car,” possibly Perry’s most commercial pop-rock song to date, is reminiscent of the Go-Go’s, but the rest of the record heads into introspection, which is where Perry seems the most comfortable. Songs like “Done,” “Happily Ever After” and the achingly beautiful Robert Earl Keen cover, “Then Came Lo Mein,” showcase Perry’s Feist-like mellow and honest delivery. Commercial potential abounds; Perry can easily lay claim to being one of the best songwriters in the area.
— Chris Jay
Available Aug. 6, rainperry.com
If there was any complaint about Aaron Orbit’s debut solo record, Sunday Morning Murder Songs, it was that it was almost too diverse. From country to pop to rock to electronica, it seemed that Orbit could literally do it all, and he intended to prove it. For those who were left somewhat confused by the first record, his second release, the M.E.C.O. EP, will make much more sense as the songs seem to come from the same artist and voice. Moody and dark with Orbit’s powerful vocals at the forefront, the singer-songwriter finds himself venturing into spacey atmospheric David Bowie territory on tracks like the stellar “Ballad of Halley,” which is easily one of the best songs Orbit has ever written. If Orbit was genre hopping, he’s now moving into genre creating, as the EP could very well be the soundtrack for heartbreak in outer space or, if you’re the glass half-full type, the soundtrack to falling in love during the apocalypse.
— Chris Jay
Available at soundcloud.com/aaronorbit.
All As One
If the fine folks over at Merriam-Webster were to cross paths with Reluctant Hero’s latest release, All as One, they would undoubtedly be compelled to redefine the meaning of EP as shorthand for “epic.” And epic it is. All as One is a perfect amalgamation of Tyler Brown’s soaring vocals with the searing yet melodic guitars of Gavin Morse and Marty Nevarez and Jacob Mendez’s throbbing bass lines — all held together tightly by Daniel Yakobchuk’s dexterous drumming. As powerful as this record is, however, it is far from lacking in dynamic range, and could serve as the soundtrack to a Bruce Lee fight scene just as easily as teenage heartbreak. What stands out most, however, is a consistently positive message promoting the strength and will to stay on top, which is exactly where Reluctant Hero is headed.
— Bennett Cornell
Available at reverbnation.com/reluctanthero.