Album Review: Ringo Deathstarr – Colour Trip

I've been waiting a long time for this one. Approximately two years and two months, give or take a day hither and thither. You see, it was then that I saw Ringo Deathstarr play an incendiary set at Headhunter's in Austin during SXSWeek, and after I picked my jaw up off the floor I knew I was in love. So I waited. And waited. And waited some more. And finally, the heavens opened and down came Colour Trip. And all was right with the world.

Whenever something is written about Ringo Deathstarr, odds are pretty good it'll have something in there about My Bloody Valentine (but hey, Loveless is one of my favorite records of ever, too) and/or The Jesus & Mary Chain. Not for nothing, as Ringo Deathstarr most certainly learned much from the Shields school of guitar fuzzery and the Reid school of vocals, respectively. But whatever elements of those two bands they've adapted to their sound, the Texas trio uses beautifully and on their own terms. Witness, friends, album opener "Imagine Hearts," a song I haven't hardly been able to stop listening to for days on end. Sure, there's distortion aplenty and bassist/siren Alex Gehring's honeyed hush of a whisper on vocal duty. But there's also one heck of a sultry little beat, bringing a little shimmy to the shoegaze.

"Do It Every Time" follows, lively and driving, guitarist Elliott Frazier doing the Reid brothers proud with his rich, rough vocals and his guitar doing all sorts of contortions. All throughout Colour Trip the fantastic fuzz and sheer noise cuddle up to poppy elements. On "Kaleidoscope," Frazier sweetly sings "got a crush on you/what can I do?" over a glorious wash of hazy fuzzitude. There's ghosts of not only the aforementioned shoegaze deities, but also the early 80s sounds of The Cure and New Order and The Psychedelic Furs, running rampant not only in this song but all over the place. "Day Dreamy" is one of my absolute favorites, the breathy vocals of Frazier and the "To Here Knows When"-esque swirling placidity making for pure intoxication.

The record keeps on a steady, stellar path the whole way through. Poppy undertones course through the huge guitar on "Tambourine Girl," and I do believe Frazier sings the line, "there's no such thing as much too loud," a sentiment which applies to this album without a doubt. The fearsome decibel levels of "Chloe" make it another of my most favorite songs from Colour Trip, Frazier and Gehring hypnotically "ooooh"-ing against the big bad buzzsaw of Frazier's axe. Immediately following "Chloe" is another favorite, "Never Drive," the fuzz reaching epic levels and the vocals in full Reid-ian threatening yet come hitherness. "You Don't Listen" is the Ringo Deathstarr "Never Understand," all jaunty jangle under layer upon layer of delicious distortion.

There's a sort of timelessness to Colour Trip, making it on-point both with the records that inspired it and the records it will undoubtedly inspire. Stoned, quite possibly, but this band probably won't find themselves dethroned anytime soon.

mp3: Imagine Hearts (Ringo Deathstarr from Colour Trip)


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