Name checking references to bands is always a tricky business, even when it's obvious, which in The ColourSound's case it's not. It is helpful, however, in that it potentially allows fans to find new bands that will appeal to their taste. So what is the difficulty for The ColourSound? The fact that the bands they mention as influences are not the ones I would immediately think of: Oasis, Coldplay, The Black Crowes, Radiohead, David Bowie, Keane amongst a few others. In a comparative sense, in Coldplay's case for instance, this might be a predilection for oft-repeated rhythmic phrasing, aiming for a mesmeric effect. Their MySpace "sounds like" section states "what 60s driving, psychedelic british rock sounds like today". I think that description can paint a far more accurate description of their sound than the influences listed. The bands that actually came into my mind whilst listening to Reclaim were the British 70s "soft rock, folk/rock" band The Sutherland Brothers & Quiver (for melodic root content), and the contemporary Perpetual Groove (jam band from Georgia, US) and British band Animal Kingdom (who are also reckoned to have been influenced by Radiohead and Coldplay) – both for jam style, as well as melodic elements. Also, there are elements of US West Coast rock that come to mind.
The common sonic elements are strong melody and a tendency to jam from a rock/pop musical root. Once you find their particular groovic rhythm, good bands with this sonic style can easily worm their way into your subconscious. The ColourSound fit that description: on first listening to Reclaim one might not be overly taken with it, but there are sufficient melodic hooks in there to bring you back for more. And that's it then – you are hooked. The groove seeps its way into your skin and your mind and you become a willing prisoner, coming back again and again for more. It is then that you realise the veracity of the band's own claim of "perfect pop constructions that veer off unexpectedly into tight peripheral breakdowns before careering back to each memorable melody"!
With a running time of about 25 minutes Reclaim counts as an EP. It took the New Yorkers 18 months to record this music and it is to be hoped that it proves the launch pad to an album-making career. The band certainly showcase plenty of variety and invention within the context of the soundscape already described. For instance, "Slowdown" features cello and other less usual rock sounds before "We're On Fire" takes on a more standard rock arrangement. Elsewhere, there are occasional echoes of folk-rock, sweet acoustic guitar, string synth and trumpet in the arrangements, amidst heavier rock phrasing. To end the EP, "Waiting Hours" brings us what might be termed "psychedelic folk-rock" whilst the short "Reclaim (Reprise)" brings a poppier flavour with some interesting keyboard sounds. Overall, there's plenty of absorbing sound colours to keep the listener happy, within a melodic, easily absorbable, rhythmic soundscape. Strong melody and strong rhythm – always a winning combination!
The musicianship and composition are excellent. The band comprise Doug Batt (vocals), Sean Hieter (electric and acoustic guitars, piano and "crazy ass effects"), Patrick Wilson (drums, percussion, backing vocals, string arrangements, additional guitars) and Leni (bass, keyboard/ableton synth, trumpet). Additional musicians on the EP are Rachael Beard (cello) and Carolyn Wert (backing vocals). If you're a New Yorker it might pay you to check the band out at its "Arlene's Grocery" residency.
Frankly, it is not possible to criticise music such as this. Oh, hang on...it's a bit short, I want more.
1) Slowdown (4:06)
2) We're On Fire (5:52)
3) Strange City (4:21)
4) Get Even (3:06)
5) The Waiting Hours (4:45)
6) Reclaim (Reprise) (2:39)