|List Price: $11.98
Our Price: $5.39
You Save: $6.59 (55%)
Company of Thieves formed when vocalist Genevieve Schatz and guitarist Marc Walloch launched the coed indie rock group after striking up an early friendship in Chicago. Mike Ortiz was later brought aboard to handle drum duties, and the trio created a body of work reflecting today's exciting, if not uncertain times in the eclectic sound of Ordinary Riches. The album moves effortlessly from the seemingly jaunty, piano-led "In Passing" and the catchy pop tones of "Oscar Wilde" to the arena-ready sing-along chorus of "New Letters" and the Jonny Greenwood-ish guitar figures on "Old Letters."
2009 release. Today's exciting, if uncertain, times are reflected in the eclectic sound of Ordinary Riches, an album that moves effortlessly from the seemingly jaunty, piano-led 'In Passing' and the catchy pop tones of 'Pressure' to the arena-ready sing-along chorus of 'New Letters' . They are erudite without being pretentious, hooky without being saccharine, and plainly dedicated to their ideals. Company of Thieves' stunning Ordinary Riches reveals a band very much of its time.
- We live in the... "Company of Thieves"
Wow... is what I have to say after listening to this album. I enjoyed it immensily and look forward to years of listening enjoyment.
Chicago band "Company of Thieves", is made up of a three members, Genevieve Elisse Schatz, Marc Walloch & Mike Ortiz... who took the band's name from Chicago musician, Cameron McGill's "The Company of Great Thieves" EP, which was released in May 2006.
The lovely Genevieve Elisse Schatz has a voice sounding similar to those of Lisa Loeb, Jill Sobule, Beth Gibbons of Portishead, Nena... ya know... 99 Luftballons, and even a mild sound of Bj?rk.
You can hear their influences in bands like Radiohead & Coldplay in their music; and even a touch of Portishead on "Old Letters".
This is rich and well composed indie alternative rock album. We highly recommend getting this CD for your collection.
- Genevieve Schatz's talent needs to be appropriately complemented
Company of Thieves are three Midwesterners from Chicago and have released their debut, Ordinary Riches, through Wind-up Records (Evanescence, Finger Eleven, etc.). It seems this trio has come out of nowhere considering I've had trouble finding some informative reading material about the group, despite the fact Wind-up is currently the largest independently-owned record label in the world. I did, however, see they debuted on Billboard's Heatseekers Chart at #5. That has to be some kind of representation for promise.
The best aspect about this trio is singer Genevieve Schatz. She has a wispy, soulful voice and clearly has a lot of talent. If it weren't 2009, I'd expect her to be singing in front of an old rockabilly microphone (go ahead and Google it). Schatz has that airy twang from decades ago. Even her photo in the album's liner notes gives her a plain, flower girl-esque image.
As far as the sound goes, there really isn't one song I have to skip back to again and again. On the contrary, I will say the bluesy soloing guitar in the latter half of "Under The Umbrella" is impressive, as well as the harmonizing [backing] vocals. Start to finish, the instruments don't exactly jump out and grab you - a little distortion here, some gentle strumming and percussion there, but nothing spectacular. The production is done well, however. Granted, production can only take a band so far, but it doesn't go unappreciated. It's just too bad the album as a whole isn't memorable, vocals aside.
While polished, Ordinary Riches is a so-so indie effort, and Schatz just isn't the right fit for this alternative rock, poppy sound. Company of Thieves need to appropriately complement Schatz's talent if they're going to thrive as a complete package....more info
- Really good debut album
I am always open to new bands/music and willing to try just about anything once. With that in mind, I ordered this album and started listening to it in the car. The first track ("Old Letters") had me a bit worried initially since there wasn't a melody and just seemed to be lots of crashing and banging. As the song unfolded and as I listened to the rest of the album, I found myself really enjoying it. I even like the opening track now that I know what's to follow!
While only three people, the sound is full and doesn't feel like it's missing anything. The vocalist, Genevieve Schatz, reminds me of Norah Jones but with more punch and power. She has the smoky voice but is able to ramp it up when appropriate and really has nice shading to her vocals. There are two things that keep this from a 5-star album for me -- 1) the balance between the three musicians is sometimes off with the drum overshadowing the guitar and vocalist and 2) the production quality of the disk isn't as good as it could be.
I've been listening to this for over a month now (and my 14-year-old daughter as well). We both really have enjoyed it and neither of us is tired of it yet -- in particular "Oscar Wilde" which is our favorite track. I wish this group all the best and hope they do well; they deserve it. ...more info
- EXTRAordinary Riches
Worth the buy. I can't stop listening. Music, vocals, and lyrics are astounding.
The entire album is filled with complex and rich music, and Genevieve Schatz's classic and strong voice carries the songs with catchy and often soothing melodies. My first impression of her vocal styling was that she sounded like a 1950's female pop singer making an attempt at contempory music, and it's nothing short of amazing and fascinating.
While the guitar work of Marc Walloch is seemingly simplistic at times with graceful string picking, he shows his great talent with occasional guitar solos (check out the end of "Under The Umbrella") and complex riffs that give the band a unique sound. And with Mike Ortiz carrying the appropriate beats for each song, the trio is a perfect fit. After several listens, you'll find yourself coming back for more.
Sample the songs on itunes to get a taste, if anything, and if they seem remotely interesting, buy the album. It's one of the best albums I've purchased in a long time....more info
- A blind review
This CD was sent for me to review, knowing nothing about the band. It's a blind review, and that means I may rate this differently than a fan or someone who is more familiar with the band.
This CD is a very enjoyable listen. It's not bad at all. The band is incredibly talented. They remind me almost of The Cardigans, with their nice mixture of sweet melody with occasional guitar distortion thrown in. Or of Fiona Apple, with the lush and thick production of strings and wind instruments behind the singers soaring voice.
That gets to my first problem with the disc. It is too produced. I tend to like music with a dirty, edgy, raw sound, and "Ordinary Riches" is a polished apple. This is personal preference, so I don't mark it down because of that. For those who like this sound, I'm sure it makes them very happy.
My other problem with the album is the lead singer. Genevieve Schatz has a very nice voice. She is one of the many "retro-style" singers, with a very 1950's swinging sound. She does that Beth Gibbons (portishead) thing where she adds letters to her "s's" and "sh's", so words like "stars" come out sounding like "shtarzsh". The difference is that when Beth does it, it sounds very natural; but when Schatz sings it sounds like she's putting on an affect. That leads to my overall problems with Schatz singing. She sounds like a sum of several parts, but I get no real feeling for her personality from her singing. I couldn't pick her voice out of a line-up. It's a very lovely voice, but there's no individuality to it.
That aside, I still give this album a high rating. It's a talented enough piece of work, and I realize that my tastes may not match those of the intended audience (i.e. not me). I'm not being sarcastic when I say that this album would probably be very inoffensive to play in a quiet little coffee shop somewhere. The type of place that has a poetry night; and the poetry is really bad self important drivel, but kind-of fun anyway. It's always good to have a "safe" CD like this around so it doesn't disturb the sensitive artists....more info
- This Will Grow On You
After seeing the band perform at the Belly Up in San Diego, I became a fan and immediately purchased their CD at the show. I was completely amazed by their live performance. Their energy, musicianship, and honesty came through loud and clear. I don't expect them to be radio darlings, however each song on the album has a life of it's own. I find it difficult to categorize the band, which is a good thing, but hard to explain to friends. I simply tell them to listen to this CD a few times..I guarantee you will find yourself singing or humming verses unknowingly. This CD truly does grow on you. See them live also if they are playing in your area, you will enjoy it. ...more info
- Very pleasant.
After reading the reviews on this CD, I came to this thought:
Critic is easy , art is difficult.
I do not like all the songs but I am very pleased with this CD. Reading all the sophisticated and negative reviews, made me laugh.
Really I would like to see and hear if the authors of these reviews can do as well as this group.
Humility is always what matters....more info
- Thoroughly enjoyable
Indie/alternative music can be tough to review because a single album can often cover a wide range of musical styles. So just to throw in my $.02 and give a couple more artist I think are comparable in sound, I find Company Of Thieves remind me of Poe, The Like, and to a lesser extent, Camera Obscura.
All comparisons aside, I found Ordinary Riches to be an enjoyable listen. I didn't feel like I was listening to the same song over and over again as is often the case with a lot of artists. That being said, there were some songs that I didn't care for too much. However, I'll take that tradeoff to get the diversity of songs that were present on this album. Overall an album that has good replay value for me and I look forward to hearing what CoT brings us in the future....more info
- Catchy, Friendly Indie Rock, some hits and misses.
I've been dipping my toes into the world of Indie Rock a bit over the past couple years, so I thought I would give this a shot. Most songs are very catchy, friendly tunes that provide a fun and rewarding listening experience. I do think this band has a lot of room to improve though.
The female vocals are in fact very beautiful. She has a light, sweet, dynamic and vibrant tone, sounding remarkably similar to Emiliana Torrini and Ingrid Michaelson. If you like those artists, you may very well like this band, of course keep in mind this is a much different style.
My main gripe is that the guitar work and production value on some songs is not the greatest. In particular, "Oscar Wilde" has very muted and distant sounding guitars, which is surprising because this song was used to promote the album. I suppose they could use that technique if other instruments were more prominent and the guitars were used more for rhythm and filling out the sound, but there aren't any extra instruments on this track. I guess this guy simply isn't the guitar-playing guru I take for granted in so much of my music and it is much more focused on the vocals. The end of "Under the Umbrella" (after an awkward and incoherent 9 seconds of silence, I might add) has an attempt at a guitar solo/instrumental section, but it seems completely directionless and uninspired.
The album also seems a bit lopsided. Listening to the second half, it starts to become somewhat stale. I think they simply ran out of songwriting ideas, and figured by putting all the boring songs at the end, by that time no one will notice and only remember the good ones at the beginning. I actually listened to the album backwards to make sure of this and it's not just the general sound getting boring after a while. There isn't enough variation on these later tracks to keep the listener's interest, and exploring some different instruments wouldn't hurt. The booklet lists some violin and piano, but it's like finding a needle in a haystack to actually hear them. "The Tornado Song" has some prominent piano, but if fails to add an extra spark to this otherwise tedious bore-fest. While listening to "New Letters" and "Under the Umbrella" I can't help but keep wondering when something exciting will happen, while trying to tolerate the lousy guitar work. The "choir" singing in these tracks doesn't help either. I have heard many songs that add in choir-type vocals and they work great, but this just adds extra cheesiness.
Please understand that I'm not bashing some of these songs just because they are slower, or more ballad-like. I enjoy plenty of slower songs. I love Tori Amos, and her heartfelt ballads are some of the best out there. I also enjoy lots of post-rock, instrumental and ambient music that has little or no "hard rock" value to it. This band simply, in many cases, can't come up with a good musical focus to give the listener a unique feeling that music is supposed to give you and the songs just wander aimlessly for way too long.
There are several songs I really enjoy though. "Quiet on the Front" is perhaps my favorite song here. The use of harmonica provides a warm, nostalgic summertime feeling; I just wish they would use it a bit more than 5 seconds at the beginning of every chorus. "Pressure" is another one of my favorites with a very memorable chorus and laid-back feeling. "Oscar Wilde" is also one of the better tracks, despite my gripes about it. "Old Letters" is a nice opening track with a catchy rhythm, prominent bass line and some sprinkles of violin and piano. "In Passing" is a very quirky, upbeat and fun track.
So, For the most part, I'm more impressed by this album than I thought I would be, but these guys have a lot of improving to do. I hope they do improve, as I think they have some decent potential. If they make another album someday I will probably check it out.
Other similar artists you may be interested in may include The Essex Green (highly recommended), Anathallo, Emiliana Torrini, and even Death Cab for Cutie....more info
- A good disc, particularly during its first half
Ordinary Riches is a solid debut from Company of Thieves. While the band's sound is steeped in indie rock, the band varies the moods throughout and it works more often than not. In an interesting twist, the opening song, "Old Letters", shows the band at the darkest as the bass line and splashes of piano and strings provide a good balance with Genevieve Schatz's haunting vocals. "Oscar Wilde" is a very catchy track with a great guitar hook while "In Passing" is nearly as good. "Pressure" is the best song on the album. With its sing-along chorus and dramatic changes in mood to its end where Schatz sings while the band remains silent, this track works on all levels. Other strong tracks include the melodic "Around the Block", "Quiet on the Front", and "Even In the Dark". After this, the album loses some momentum as either the tracks start out well but drag at the end ( "Under The Umbrella", "New Letters") or the songs just aren't memorable ("Past The Sleep", "The Fire Song"). All told, Ordinary Riches shows a band that has some potential as "Pressure" and "Oscar Wilde" are excellent tracks....more info
- Nothing ordinary about this album
How to describe this Chicago-based trio's sound? Plangent guitar chords, strong steady percussion, and Genevieve Schatz's incredible vocals. She's smoky, perky, and heady like a good cup of coffee first thing in the morning.
My favorites of the bunch:
Old Letters -- very atmospheric, almost techno opening with a strong bass and percussion undernote. This is a haunting, evocative tune.
Oscar Wilde -- wild riff opening reminiscent of the Rolling Stones and fun, flirty vocals. I think Oscar would approve.
Tornado Song -- soft start on the keyboard with a haunting note that picks up and just delivers.
Very glad I found this group. I'm impressed with the consistent delivery on a very varied CD offering. Nice work!
Rebecca Kyle, April 2009...more info
- Promising Debut from Chicago trio
With sumptuous, artful packaging and a title cribbed from an Oscar Wilde quote, Company of Thieves' debut album comes at you suggesting Sophisticated Literate Rock, with, depending on how far you want to take the Wilde references (they also named a song after him), a twist of irony and humor. In an era where downloads are crowding out the physical album, we often forget that the album packaging and artwork can tell us a lot about how a band wishes to be perceived.
Lyrics are laid out nicely in the packaging, and with high expectations I read and re-read them before I heard one note of music. It's worth noting that the liner notes say "Ordinary Riches in its entirety was written and arranged by Company of Thieves", so although it's natural to assume singer Genevieve Schatz wrote the words, that may not be true. Nonetheless, rather than Wilde-eyed wit and depth, the lyrics on whole feel like uninspired teenage lamentations, the breakup of a relationship is explored in opener "Old Letters" with the sad and desperate protaganist saying "Oh you creep up on me kinda like a nightmare in my sleep/I'll come running I'll be where you are". Whoever left this person should stay far away! Unfortunately, the mood never changes much, track 5 says "I feel so alone and so unloved" and "I'm waiting at the bus stop for you", and the album ends with "I really do believe in you/I really do believe in this... I won't give up on you", when the "you" in question appears to be long gone with our protagonist left living in the past. Mixed in with this, the mood tries to spin off into a war-is-hell lament ("Quiet on the Front"), a passage-of-time lament ("Under the Umbrella"), and an awkward self-help screed ("Even in the Dark") that all just lead me to believe that the lyricist(s), although earnest, is sorely lacking in life experience. Which is okay, of course, you've got to start somewhere, but here's hoping C.O.T. will look back on this years from now and laugh at their pretension. I wonder, for instance, if Wilde lived today and had his own website (as C.O.T. do), would he refer to his own work as "erudite" and "stunning", as C.O.T. does?
And let's hope they're around years from now, because they clearly have talent. Aided by producer/engineer Sean O'Keefe (who does an admirable job holding all the disparate elements together), and a bass player who plays on all the songs (why isn't he in the band, I wonder?), and several other string and keyboard players, this trio of vocalist Schatz, guitarist Marc Walloch and drummer Mike Ortiz have crafted a sonically interesting stew of an alternative rock album, often veering off into unusual song structures, which sometimes succeeds (as in the body of "Under the Umbrella" and its wait-a-minute-is-this-the-same-band? Mott the Hoople outro), and sometimes doesn't (the disjointed and almost cheeseball "In Passing", the weird little funk break in "Quiet on the Front"). To my ears, while the music is trying to spin into different permutations of itself from song to song, the vocals sound pretty much the same on every song, from the range and the studio effects, to the emotional heft and the melodic choices, and so on. Perhaps on a future album the trio's respective visions can coalesce into a unified whole.
Read other reviews and see all the different voices Schatz gets compared to, from Bjork to to Feist to Edie Brickell to Norah Jones to Suzanne Vega, and so on. Her voice, although shaky and a bit off-key from time to time, is a lovely instrument. Each time I hear the opening track, I feel a cross between Fiona Apple and Portishead, which is a bit of an anomaly in this album of mostly mid-tempo guitar-based rock. It's certainly telling, though, that so many reviews focus on the voice itself rather than what the voice is actually singing about. Despite myself, each time I listen to this album I want it to lean more towards Metric-like excitement and cleverness. I also want there to be more memorable melodies, a song I get excited enough to force someone to listen to (the choice of "Oscar Wilde" and "Pressure" as singles seems to be a good one, as pop songs I'd call them near misses with pretty strong choruses).
For the curious, I'd recommend trying tracks 3,5,8 and/or 9 and see if any of them hit you between the eyes. And, read some Oscar Wilde, too. "Picture of Dorian Gray" is fantastic!
- Time Keeps Ticking Away, Always Running Away
We are a decade and a half since the heyday alternative rock when Lollapalooza was the lone traveling circus of semi-homogeneous musical acts. It was also the first to die out after Metallica overtook the headlining reigns turning the show into the cooperate entity that many early fans despised. Now back into its roots, the show now in festival form in Chicago, home of Company of Thieves, a band that would have fit right in during the early tours with the release of its debut album, Ordinary Riches.
The trio, fronted by pixie Genevieve Schatz, crafts poppy alternative rock that sometimes takes its time to gestate with some songs passing the five minute mark but manages never to seem that long thanks to changing tempos and deliveries. Take Under the Umbrella, a bouncy love song that turns into an arena rock shout along to the point you may think it's two different songs. Then Oscar Wilde (the album title comes from one of his quotes), a song that starts off with a classic rock riff that turns into a groove before you hit the chorus where you will want to sing the ironically chipper delivered, "We are our own devil."
Other standouts include the smooth Pressure which continues to build throughout the song before breaking during the chorus only for the song to end with a sweet acapella coda from Schatz. The album closes out New Letters, a soothing song the ebbs and flows for its six minutes as it builds up steam for an ending that will leave you wanting more....more info
- The Company You Keep
A little bit of jazz, a little funk, a little trip-hop (the guitar heavy variety), a strong dose of alt-rock, and a lead singer with a Fionna Apple like voice (but less intensity or sexiness), pretty much sums up Company of Thieves. As a debut album, ORDINARY RICHES is a solid effort. The fact that the band is from my home town (Chicago) is another plus. As Chicago musical acts go, they rank somewhere below LOCAL H or Sufjan Stevens, and above MAHJONNG or Anni Rossi.
The scattered quality of this album is its biggest downfall, but the lyrical nature (some seem to feel the intellectual quality is alienating--probably the same people who hate SNOW PATROL for the same reasons) but I find it a breath of fresh air in a musical marketplace dominated by 'baby baby' tunes. The singing is of a decent quality, but lead singer Genevieve Schatz never seems to stretch her vocal chords in this release; I would have loved to have the guitars layered a little less and the vocals sampled a little higher in many of the tracks.
Brash guitar work and an alt/rock mood drive the music forward, with some more whimsical elements thrown in for good measure. UNDER THE UMBRELLA delivers an interesting guitar riff that is classical 70s juxtaposed with a trip-hop sensibility that ends up feeling like subtle pop, until the real song ending kicks in, channeling OASIS from their (WHAT'S THE STORY)MORNING GLORY album.
Past the Sleep feels like a reworked SMASHING PUMPKINS track from MELLON COLLIE disk I. Perhaps it's the Chicago connection or the resemblance to the almighty Pumpkins, but this is probably my favorite track, even if it is ultimately a little on the bland side.
Tracks worth mentioning include the single OSCAR WILDE, OLD LETTERS, and the previously described UNDER THE UMBRELLA.
3.5/5 Stars. Solid for a fist album, but not exceptional by any standard. ...more info
- Ordinary Riches is a real gem!
Looking for something new but not sure what you want to listen to? Heard about this band from a friend but still too unsure to try them out? You'll be surprised, listen to some of the songs and see how much you enjoy them!
This album has great depth! I've introduced the band to many of my friends, all with different tastes in music but all have been blown away. They play the type of music that everyone can enjoy, it can reach across many audiences!
The lyrics are outstanding but they also don't over shine the intensity of their music as a whole. Great guitar work too!...more info
- "This life is all or none, gotta listen to the laughter"
This is music reminiscent of the alternative rock of the 1990's. Genevieve Schatz's vocals can sound sweet one minute, seductive another minute and volatile the next minute. Accompanying Schatz are Marc Walloch on guitar and Mike Ortiz on drums. The album begins with the dirge-like "Old Letters" followed by the volatile "In Passing." The tone sounds a little more upbeat with "Oscar Wilde" and seemed to gather my attention more. "Even In The Dark" seems to sound socially conscientious with a warning to pay attention to your children. Ending it all is the powerful "New Letters," which almost sounds like Schatz has moved on and discarded the "Old Letters" she sang about on the opening track. One warning about the packaging- the digipack doesn't have any hole to place the CD so you'll have to be careful when you put it back. ...more info
- Thieves, indeed.. but some good stuff here.
Good enjoyable music is not about originality. Is about enjoyability.
Company of Thieves were probably mocking themselves when naming their band and album, as it describes the music as well.
At first listen, Genevieve Schatz's vocals are so reminiscent of several 90s alt-rock singers that they ease the process of discovering the songs. You feel like you're listening to above average album tracks from a Lillith Fair sampler. With a laid back attitude that serves the songs well, the instruments and trio slowly let the music pull you in. An acoustic based folk-rock Bjork comes to ming on several songs, which, while lacking the Icelandic chanteuse striking originality, still convey energy and intensity that grows with each listen.
The mish-mash of influence makes sense more often than not, but you can't help but think that this Company of Thieves is still too young to take their Ordinary Riches to a new level of sonic vitality. Worth the listen for a relaxing folksy alt-rock listening session, Company of Thieves' Ordinary Riches is a good intro to what could be a successful career for the band, if they learn to craft their own artistic wealth, or a popular solo career for the singer, if she can grasp upcoming extraordinary material.
- Good contemporary rock
This is pretty good stuff. Not the kind of music that I hear much on the contemporary FM anymore, which is always a good thing in itself.
The band isn't "quite there" yet - there's a good few shortcomings on tap as well. But hopefully they'll be able to continue recording and honing their craft, if so, I expect a great album from this group eventually....more info
- a little this a little that
A little Dresden Dolls, a little Decemberists, a tiny bit of Interpol, a soupcon of Morrissey (whee! Oscar Wilde For The Win, everybody loves ole Oskie, in college anyway) and there ya go. Where you go with it, of course, is up to you, although I would not recommend this for people with a low tolerance for the precocious, not to say pretentious. Genevieve Schatz sings very well; however, what she sings is college sophomore Poetry 201 stuff. The melodies are passable, but the lyrics - convoluted metaphors mixed with occasional emo outbursts - are sometimes cringeworthy. The music tries to be diverse but ends up sounding fractured. In this it reminds me of Rilo Kiley's last album, where a great female vocalist is hampered by dilettantish songwriting and arranging. A little of everything can add up to a whole lot of...not much. They are trying something different, but that something different is already territory that's being covered by - hate to say it again, but I have to - Dresden Dolls and the Decemberists. Can't fault them for trying though. Maybe by the second album, they'll have found their true voice. ...more info
- An Interesting Debut that Needs a Few Listens
"Ordinary Riches," originally released in 2007 as Company of Thieves' debut on an independent label, is an interesting CD that provides twists and turns along the way. Vocalist Genevieve Schatz shows a wide range, soulfully singing her way through the opening tracks -- "Old Letters," and "In Passing," while confidently belting out the best song on the CD, "Oscar Wilde."
The other members of this power trio, guitarist Marc Walloch and drummer Mike Ortiz (there is no bass player), produce a tight sound -- Ortiz practically bangs his drums into submission on "Pressure," another good song, and Walloch's guitar matches Schatz's diverse voice on such rockers like "Under the Umbrella."
Overall, "Ordinary Riches" is a pretty strong debut. I would suggest listening to the CD a few times before passing judgment, as it is more nuanced and intelligent than a lot of indie rock being produced today. There is a rawness and power to this CD that is both captivating and interesting.