The Colour

Monday, 04 December 2006

No one wants their rock stars to be clean cut, apart from all the Buddy Holly fanatics out there. Musicians are heroes that we can live through vicariously—swilling whisky every night, nonchalantly hooking up with random groupies in towns big and small, making showering an optional activity—surveying them alternately with jealousy and disgust.

The same can be said for the music they put out. Gritty, boozy and blustery are all adjectives critics love to apply to any blues-inflected rock that crosses their desks, with the obvious unspoken indictment of anything that sounds too clean and overproduced. Ever wonder why there are so many vinyl purists out there, clinging to their 33’s, 45’s and 12 inches in spite of the fact that they crackle and pop more than a bowl of Rice Crispies? The answer is always something along the lines of “digital sucks the soul out of the music.”

And so, it is with this in mind that the following, cliché-ridden review comes tumbling out:

I’ve never seen the Colour perform live. I have no idea what they look like. So any images that are called to mind come straight from the music—and the standard indie-rocker look that everyone can’t avoid sporting. On Between Earth and Sky, the Orange County fivesome put on their best 70’s blooze rock hats—and scarves and stovepipe jeans, I’d be willing to bet—to crank out some shambling head-bobbers that would be pretty derivative if they weren’t so damn catchy. But catchy they are, thanks in part to the honky-tonk piano that winds its way through most of the album, as well as the vocal shimmy and yelp of singer Wyatt Hull. Hull practically make his stage-strut audible on tracks like “Kill the Lights,” and when he promises “you come on over/we’ll make it right/we’ll lay you down and we’ll kill the lights,” you can pretty much hear the snap of panty-waistbands as their owners tear them off in anticipation.

The excitement tails off a tad in the second half of the album, but that’s mainly because there’s nowhere to go but down after the album’s cracked centerpiece “Devil’s Got A Holda Me.” The track features all of the best tropes of the genre—the devil, hell, clipped guitars and splashy crashes on the cymbals, all culminating in a classic breakdown: handclaps, stomps, the refrain sung-shouted by the entire group. It’s sepia-toned magic, labels peeling off of beer bottles from condensation in a sweltering club where only the sunlight filtering slipping under the cracks of the door belies the fact that dawn has come and gone long ago. While the Colour may be traveling a road that many have before, they’re having fun kicking up the dirt as they do.

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