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Awesome Color - Electric Aborigines

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Artist: Awesome Color

Album: Electric Aborigines

Label: Ecstatic Peace!

Review date: May. 15, 2008

To paraphrase a better man, “What a Goddamn Great Second Awesome Color Record.”

What is it, then? Better songs? A deeper understanding of the recording process? More confidence? Brooklyn-via-Ann Arbor trio Awesome Color (nee Violent Ramp!) figured something out this time around. Without making any wholesale changes to their songs or sound, they are now in possession of the juice, the stuff, that thing that a lot of bands don’t have. “Talkin’ it / Ain’t walkin’ it,” belts out guitarist Derek Stanton on “Step Up,” and he sells it just by virtue of his tone. His bandmates Mike Troutman (bass) and Allison Busch (drums) have no problem following suit.

Joe Carducci would nut all over this one; they’re a perfect case for the rock argument in Rock and the Pop Narcotic. Small lineup, traditional approach, bought and paid for on the virtues of their own (loud) talent and (explosive) expression. This is a hard rock record, ostensibly from the blues, informed by punk but not ruined by that genre’s myriad excuses. And the only thing holding it back from falling in with a hard rock record from the ‘70s is their refreshing lack of concession towards overstatement. Lots of those old heads kick back like they’re out of control, and simply cannot believe they’re rockin’ this hard. In truth, it’d be a lot more righteous – and a lot less insecure on the artists’ behalf – if the audience gets to decide that. Well, guess what, motherfucker. I am that audience. And I say that Awesome Color gets the pass.

There’s sustain both technically and in the songcraft that plays against the internal tension of the songs, and these two dynamics shove the poles in the holes with effortless ease. A groove is established in every song straightaway, but there’s no showing off. The record begins with a blast of feedback and, after three impassioned opening statements (“Eyes of Light,” “Already Down” and the aforementioned “Step Up”), they settle comfortably into the sort of scorched-earth, tall-as-gods slunk that could easily sidle up next to AC/DC and stare those wild eyes down. There’s more grit to this 45 minutes of music than in the dead skin that gets shaken out of the PedEgg I keep seeing advertised all over cable.

Many try to rock. Few succeed like Awesome Color. Many bands can hold a simple, solid riff for five minutes. Few can figure out how to fuck with it to keep the ears ringing without trying too hard, but on “Outside Tonight” these guys make it seem as simple as breathing. Loads of bands reheat so many goddamn TIRED rockarolla tropes like they’re playing to people dumb enough to buy it. Awesome Color rocks so effortlessly that it’s a wonder why most bands would inflict themselves on us in the first place. What’s the secret? “Let’s take our time / And do it right / Tonight,” they inform us. And in that, there’s no further need for explanation. You either are or you aren’t. They are. Electric Aborigines is, and restores in name and action the Michigan-Australia Cross-Continental Rock Pipeline to free-flowing status, unclogged of the piss and shit that threatened its operations.

By Doug Mosurock

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