Weekly Volcano Blogs: Walkie Talkie Blog

June 21, 2011 at 2:13pm

The Many Shades of Ringo Deathstarr's “Colour Trip”

Ringo Deathstarr

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SEE THE BAND LIVE TOMORROW IN OLY >>>

While ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead certainly cast a long shadow (their infamously long-winded name precedes them), Ringo Deathstarr, the Austin band that's opening for AYWKUBTTOD tomorrow at the Capital Theater, definitely has its own fuzz-soaked appeal. When they first popped up on my radar a few years back, I was still a college radio DJ entrenched in the first of three years spent slavishly curating a weekly shoegaze-focused specialty show. Ringo Deathstarr's sound-reverent to their shoegaze forebears but delivered with unselfconscious energy-instantly appealed to me, no matter how silly the name sounded at first (this tour is, perhaps, an ideal meeting of preposterously-named-but-nonetheless-talented bands).

I nursed my crush on Ringo Deathstarr for a couple of months, saw them live in their hometown, booked them for an in-studio, and then lost track of the band until recently, when I heard a track off their new full-length Colour Trip on the radio and it sent me reeling. To my great satisfaction, Colour Trip is an album that capitalizes on all the aural promise that had me so jazzed nearly four years ago. While inarguably unoriginal, their sound is so blunt and straightforward in its very "shoegazey-ness" that its appeal to a guy like me was pretty much cemented from the get-go. It helps that they wrangle some truly phenomenal sounds out of their guitars, and expend just enough energy on skewing their songs in unique, unexpected directions. The production on Colour Trip sounds appropriately sweated-over, as well. My initial reaction to the album pegged it as being like a "dizzy, waking dream set to half-remembered traces of Lovelessand Ride broadcast in refracted tessellations." With that in mind, here's a list of the qualities that make Colour Trip a great shoegaze record, and some of the ones that help set it apart from its apparent inspirations:

Colour Trip is a great shoegaze record because...

-It's got lyrics that are alternately sappy and romantic ("Do It Every Time," "Kaleidoscope") and kind of horny ("Day Dreamy," "Chloe").

-It's got massive, supernova choruses with huge swaths of "chord bent" guitar.

-It references My Bloody Valentines' "Only Shallow" (the drum fill that opens "Chloe") and the Jesus and Mary Chain's "Just Like Honey" (the vocal melody on "Day Dreamy'"s chorus).

-There's some amazing moments of feedback/distortion on it (virtually every song).

-Like some of the best shoegaze bands, everyone in the band is a heartthrob.

Colour Trip is not just your average shoegaze record because...

-Of the crazy shifts in timing in "Tambourine Girl."

-It's got a perceptible twee vibe on songs like "So High" and the aforementioned "Tambourine Girl."

-It's loaded with beautiful guitar overdubs (the original shoegaze maestros like Kevin Shields actually avoided using overdubs for their layered, massive-sounding whorls of guitar squall).

-"Never Drive" is arguably a garage rock song set to an insistent 808 kick and lacquered with muffled, gauzy vocals.

-The chorus of "Two Girls" is totally worthy of Blonde Redhead.

-Album closer "Other Things" is essentially a minimalist hip-hop track set to statuesque bassist Alex Gehring's breathy intonations.

-Unlike some of the best shoegaze bands, everyone in the band is a heartthrob.

[Capitol Theater, with ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, Follow That Bird, Broken Water, Wednesday, June 22, 8 p.m., $7 OFS member, $10 GA, 206 Fifth Ave. SE, Olympia, 360.754.6670]

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