In Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity, Rob, Dick and Barry formulate one of their top five lists on ‘Five Best Side One Track Ones’. Surely if the novel were written sometime after now, “‘Eyes Of Light’, Electric Aborigines by Awesome Color” would stand a chance of making at least one of their lists. After a brief stint of feedback, the track blasts in as an energy ball of visceral power and doesn’t give up for five and a half minutes. Some minimal, grungily melodic singing punctuates the cymbal and snare wash of drummer Alison Busch, Michael Troutman’s overdriven bass groove and the electric guitar wall of Derek Stanton.
They follow this with other variations of their take on mid/late-60s garage punk, sometimes adding organ, all quite successful. Sometimes Stanton’s vocals take on the feel of Kings Of Leon’s Caleb Followill, which suits just fine. The band never sounds like anyone specifically, but there’s a whole history of sound in which they fit seamlessly, from original Nuggets era bands like The Electric Prunes, The Standells and Count Five, through to 80s variations like The Stems, even some of the heavy groove of the Beasts Of Bourbon, and on to current garage derivations. Production is kept deliberately 60s though – lots of widely panned freakout, in-the-room-with-you drums – though the bass is far more robust. Most tracks sit on a single bass riff for their verses and extended guitar breaks (nothing too wanky, though!) then break out for the choruses. Yeah, it’s kind of following a formula, but it’s done with such conviction and panache that it just works.
My only reservation is the extended format of this version of the release. One of the great things about 60s garage is its singles orientation – a band got it right in three minutes then you move to the next one. Awesome Color work well for the duration of the album’s original 10 tracks. The addition of bonus tracks – old unreleased demos – is nice in terms of value for money, but dilute the power of the album, adding an unfocused 18 minutes of meandering experiments. Maybe tracking down an original vinyl version of this album is the way to go.
First ‘discovered’ by Thurston Moore and signed to his Ecstatic Peace label, the band has gone on to support Sonic Youth on numerous occasions, as well as Dinosuar Jr and Radio Birdman. With those kinds of references, one would hope for a fairly high quality level. Thankfully, Awesome Color deliver.