As derivative as its Stoogelike aural assault is, Awesome Color nonetheless delivers an undeniably compelling and convincing performance on its self-titled debut LP. Spitting vocals of barely-contained menace through clenched teeth, Derek Stanton plays guitar by pounding his pick against strings like a rock on flint, shooting sparks that ignite in an oily puddle of distortion. Drummer Allison Busch keeps it appropriately loose, and bassist Michael Troutman sticks it deep inside—the pocket, that is. Proto-punk tracks like “Grown” seethe with lust and boredom, and the flailing blues-skronk of “Dinosaur” is as sleazy as anything Mudhoney has dished up in years. The jazz-croak of a saxophone blows through “Hat Energy” like the pissed-off ghost of Albert Ayler, and “Ridin’” steers straight for the funhouse. Only on requisite closing jam “Animal” does Awesome Color stumble, with a plodding mess that fails to retain the ferocity of what preceded it; “L.A. Blues” it is not. Still, this is one impressive debut, and a great example of what can be done within the confines of an historical legacy that all too often inspires only complacent imitation. Awesome Color move beyond merely sounding like the Stooges to inhabit the primal instincts that animated those pioneers.
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// Notes from the Road
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