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Awesome Color - Awesome Color

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Artist: Awesome Color

Album: Awesome Color

Label: Ecstatic Peace!

Review date: Jun. 27, 2006

Brooklyn-via-Michigan power-trio Awesome Color may work out of New York’s outer boroughs, but these two dudes and one dudette are Detroit Rock City through and through. Obvious reference points to Wolverine State legends like the Stooges and the MC5 abound. Sure, they’re not the most obscure influences, but the love clearly runs deep. Derek Stanton’s gnarled guitar licks and thick, fuzzed-out riffs are straight from the book of Asheton; drummer Allison Busch and bassist Michael Troutman’s rhythms are primal and unrelenting, offering a solid slab of musical pavement over which Stanton can grind it out. Stanton’s vocals also owe a slight debt to his Motor City forefathers, whether he’s crooning like Iggy at his most crafty, as on “Free Man” and the slow-burning “See You Hear You,” or unleashing his best Rama Lama-inspired wail for “Unknown.” While Awesome Color’s basic template is familiar enough, other musical influences can be soused out as well. Opening track “Grown” is six minutes of dirty groove that hints at the kind of droney, ecstatic repetition one finds in the Krautier corners of Oneida’s best work. And the album’s closer, “Animal,” tosses a kitchen sink’s worth of synths, squeals, and squalls into the mix to make an otherwise ordinary album-closing workout freaky enough to merit full-length listens.

But to think about Awesome Color’s approach for too long is to do them a disservice, as what seems to be at the root of their music is a simple devotion to staying young and tearing shit up. “Ridin’,” one of the albums stand-out tracks, encourages listeners to “get on top / of your friend’s car / go real fast / and look at the stars”; the aforementioned “Free Man” offers the simple directive “take what you want / take what you need.” Though, if there’s one true anthem for late-night hell-raising here, it’s “Hat Energy.” The basic groove is powered by a sax riff that calls to mind Roxy Music. I don’t know what hat energy is, but it sounds like we could all use some.

Good times do turn bad, so the album isn’t without its darker, more pensive moments, which provide enough stylistic variance to make this a fairly well-rounded debut. Honestly, though, there’s nothing particularly groundbreaking or even original about the album – it’s rock music and it sounds like the Stooges. And that’s fine. Still, one can’t help but view the album as a reverential take on a new sort of roots music. When the virtues of the good times (and bad) were being extolled back in the day, young rockers looked to the blues and early rock & roll for influence; bands are now turning to a hybrid of those classic styles that has been happily dragged through the streets for over 30 years, emerging covered in blood and glass, plied with new kinds of drugs, and ready to be lovingly fucked with by a whole new generation. Awesome Color appears happy to oblige.

By Nate Knaebel

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