Green River Ordinance has a sizable following here on campus, having spent much of its time playing at local venues like The Aardvark before it hit it big last year with a major record label deal with Virgin Records America. With “Out of My Hands,” the band makes a solid debut, polished and mainstream yet still in tune with its roots.
The songs range from the anthemic pop-rock songs like “Different (Anything At All)” to softer ballads like top 40 radio-ready “On Your Own” and “Last October” that call to mind radio-dominating bands like The Fray.
Josh Jenkins, who handles vocalist duties as well as piano and guitar in the group, has a knack for songwriting that becomes clear soon after hearing the songs for the first time.
Bassist Geoff Ice and his guitarist brother Jamey Ice formed the original lineup of GRO but by the time Jenkins joined, the band realized how promising its songwriting skills had become. They recorded their first EP in their basement of a church and started a grassroots campaign with the CD selling out soon after its first pressing. From the band’s humble beginnings to its latest brush with the limelight, the band still seems down to earth and approachable. Lyrics on “Different” include lines like “Just another sunrise, crowded by a city losing hope, it’s time we said goodbye to the phony smiles and the puppet shows.”
If you prefer your rock music with a harder edge, you might think that the band’s catchy hooks and sing-along choruses are less sugar, more cough syrup. GRO is definitely more in touch with its sensitive side and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
But that’s not to say that the album doesn’t have its fair share of rock. Songs like “Sleep It Off” and “Come On” pick the pace back up, balancing the album and keeping it from becoming over-reliant on piano-driven songs. While the slower songs never cross into cliched and schmaltzy territory, it’s a relief that the band can keep an audience’s attention with more of a variety.
If you are looking for songs that you can’t get out of your head, look into GRO’s “Out of My Hands.”