Music

The Colour: Between Earth and Sky

The Colour has the unfortunate timing of following in the footsteps of another, more competent and similar contemporary.


The Colour

Between Earth and Sky

Label: Rethink
US Release Date: 2007-02-06
UK Release Date: Available as import
Amazon
iTunes

The Colour, despite the spelling, is an American band. You could even say, an American Band -- the capitalization, along with the spelling of their name, an adequate enough hint as to the band's natural leanings. Put another way, this LA band likes -- rather, loves -- dramatics. In this they're not alone: somehow it seems Southern California spawns theatricality. The best of the recent crop, of course, is Cold War Kids, a constant comparator for the Colour and a constant reminder of where this band could be if it were just a bit better.

One of the problems with Between Earth and Sky is that it's too static. The texture hardly changes; these songs are built off the same building-blocks and because Wyatt Hull's voice is distinctive and confined to a narrowish range, it is difficult for them to establish individuality. Verse-chorus-solo-verse-chorus, repeat. Hull's deep baritone voice has echoes of Morrissey and echoes of Nick Cave, but he's not as lugubrious, not as cool as either. Combine that with a really straight-ahead rock sound, like that of New York band Radio 4, and you can't blame us for failing to get really excited about the Colour. And yes, there's pomposity here, as on "Can't You Hear It Call", and it's well-embraced, which can be thrilling in the case of Muse, but lacks some punch here. Between Earth and Sky comes to sound just like a bunch of kids playing derivative, blues-based rock n roll. They've been weaned on Classic Rock, all those American songs Americans all know, those Doors and Stones songs, and "Everybody's Talking", which they quote in the chorus of "Just a Taste". Trouble is, the chord progression they choose to ape there is from a more recent, already mentioned band -- Cold War Kids, on "We Used to Vacation". OK, so the conflation of internet time is problematic here, but the familiarity for us discovering the band's sound now can't be undone.

There are some moments that clearly demonstrate a band with a command of rock music's power to thrill. The closest the band comes to Cold War Kids is on the single "Devil's Got a Holda Me", on which the shouted refrain is about 40% as thrilling as "Saint John". The soaring chorus in "Kill the Lights" does its job, too -- but any respect has got to be grudging, because this is all so tired, this sound and these fresh-faced teens sounding just so old, just so faux-wise. But "Black Summer" stomps forward with a dark, covered abandon. Despite the pessimism of looking forward and seeing only desperation, the singer has arrived at a place of acceptance, and it's certainly effective.

If the band could lighten up a little -- one can imagine an entirely different, more uplifting "You're a Treasure" -- and escape a mix that condenses the guitar noises into a single muddy register, the Colour might find room to carve out a solid, if not entirely exciting, niche for themselves. Between Earth and Sky doesn't do it, yet; and the band has the unfortunate timing of following in the footsteps of another, more competent and similar contemporary. But there's still hope.

4

To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.


Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09
Amazon

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less
7

Very few of their peers surpass Eurythmics in terms of artistic vision, musicianship, songwriting, and creative audacity. This is the history of the seminal new wave group

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominating committee's yearly announcement of the latest batch of potential inductees always generates the same reaction: a combination of sputtering outrage by fans of those deserving artists who've been shunned, and jubilation by fans of those who made the cut. The annual debate over the list of nominees is as inevitable as the announcement itself.

Keep reading... Show less

Barry Lyndon suggests that all violence—wars, duels, boxing, and the like—is nothing more than subterfuge for masculine insecurities and romantic adolescent notions, which in many ways come down to one and the same thing.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) crystalizes a rather nocturnal view of heterosexual, white masculinity that pervades much of Stanley Kubrick's films: after slithering from the primordial slime, we jockey for position in ceaseless turf wars over land, money, and women. Those wielding the largest bone/weapon claim the spoils. Despite our self-delusions about transcending our simian stirrings through our advanced technology and knowledge, we remain mired in our ancestral origins of brute force and domination—brilliantly condensed by Kubrick in one of the most famous cuts in cinematic history: a twirling bone ascends into the air only to cut to a graphic match of a space station. Ancient and modern technology collapse into a common denominator of possession, violence, and war.

Keep reading... Show less
10

This book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Marcelino Truong launched his autobiographical account of growing up in Saigon during the Vietnam War with the acclaimed graphic novel Such a Lovely Little War: Saigon 1961-63, originally published in French in 2012 and in English translation in 2016. That book concluded with his family's permanent relocation to London, England, as the chaos and bloodshed back home intensified.

Now Truong continues the tale with Saigon Calling: London 1963-75 (originally published in French in 2015), which follows the experiences of his family after they seek refuge in Europe. It offers a poignant illustration of what life was like for a family of refugees from the war, and from the perspective of young children (granted, Truong's family were a privileged and upper class set of refugees, well-connected with South Vietnamese and European elites). While relatives and friends struggle to survive amid the bombs and street warfare of Vietnam, the displaced narrator and his siblings find their attention consumed by the latest fashion and music trends in London. The book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Keep reading... Show less
8

Canadian soul singer Elise LeGrow shines on her impressive interpretation of Fontella Bass' classic track "Rescue Me".

Canadian soul singer Elise LeGrow pays tribute to the classic Chicago label Chess Records on her new album Playing Chess, which was produced by Steve Greenberg, Mike Mangini, and the legendary Betty Wright. Unlike many covers records, LeGrow and her team of musicians aimed to make new artistic statements with these songs as they stripped down the arrangements to feature leaner and modern interpretations. The clean and unfussy sound allows LeGrow's superb voice to have more room to roam. Meanwhile, these classic tunes take on new life when shown through LeGrow's lens.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image