Jud Norman: Apples, Oranges

Early power-pop from Research Turtles singer/songwriter

Jud Norman is the songwriter, singer and bass player for the should-be-famous Lake Charles, LA power-pop quartet, Research Turtles. Before forming his current band (from the remnants of his cover band the Flame Throwers and his brother’s band, Plaid Carpets), he recorded this solo album in the transition between high school and college. You can hear the seeds of the Research Turtles in these charming pop songs, and also a stronger dose of influences like Matthew Sweet, Big Star, Badfinger and Weezer. Especially Weezer. The album doesn’t have the studio polish of Justin Tocket’s production on Research Turtles, but Norman was already clear on the sound he wanted to achieve.

Playing everything but drums (which were manned by the record’s producer/engineer Bam Arceneaux), Norman might have ended up sounding like a charmingly insular one-man band; and while there’s a hint of that in the self-harmonizing, the end result sounds surprisingly like a group rather than multiple layers of an individual. The lyrics are full of classic power-pop professions of love and longing, made vital by Norman’s then-proximity to his teenage years and the urgency they inspire. It’s rare for a teenage artist, even one heading into college, to have the self-awareness to write these sorts of lyrics, and even rarer to have the musical ear to produce something so melodically fetching.

It’s not perfect, but even the few moments that strain or come a bit too close to Norman’s influences, are more endearing than off-putting. Originally released independently in 2002, the album got little push (one release party, apparently) and no critical notice. Norman moved on to form Research Turtles with his brother Joe (who’s now leaving the band, so they’re looking for a guitarist) and two friends, and this debut was left behind. But through the magic of the Internet, you can now find this little-known, unpolished gem for free on the Research Turtles’ website linked below. Snap it up before the band signs with a label that realizes there’s money to be made in Norman’s catalog! [©2010 hyperbolium dot com]

MP3 | Take Me Away
Download Apples, Oranges for Free!
Research Turtles’ Home Page

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