Color School – Close Enough To Fix – EP Review
Pleasant vibes from this crew! Let me see if I’ve got the full story straight here after checking out the details I could find online & notes I have… Color School is a band based out of DC, down south from us here in Canada, but these DIY Garage Pop rockers also managed to secure some of our own national talent with the addition of fellow Canadian Camille Miller taking on the vocals for this record…before she apparently moved to Singapore? Am I reading all this right? I felt like they all just got here!
And for what it’s worth, I can hear how their talents complement each other – they’ve got a good thing goin’ on & hopefully no matter who’s moved where or whatever happens, they’ll find a way to keep on jammin’ it up and creating these dreamy grooves and gentle Rock tunes. I mean, I’d be encouraged to find a way if I was in this band, that’s all I’m saying…you can hear the genuine fun they’re having while playing these songs on Close Enough To Fix, but you can also hear the magic they share between them.
As “Control” started up with the sweetened treble-tones of the guitar dripping from the speakers, Color School reminded me of The LA’s for a moment or two there before Camille showed up to sing & take the sound in a different direction. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s still got that comparable sweetness in the sound that you’d find between the two bands, I’m just pointing out we’ve got way different singers between’em. The point is, Color School starts up this EP with an inviting & comforting sound, feel me? “Control” is a decent tune…performance-wise, musically and vocally, they’re all on-point and there are no issues there…if anything, what’s working against them potentially on this opener is just how laid-back and quaint it really is. It’s like they’re politely asking you to listen whereas so many bands & artists out there punch you in the face with sound on the first song…so personally, I dig how “Control” gives this record room to expand the sound further upon the way Close Enough To Fix begins, which they will. Really dig the sound of the filters on the guitars and the clean smoothness of the vocals on “Control.”
They’ll do that immediately in fact. “Own” is about as immediately enticing as music can be to my ears – I love how this song starts. Somewhere between Echobelly and Belly (90’s Belly people, let’s be real here), sprinkled with a bit more sweetness & presence and an energetic Strokes-like guitar riff or two, some Superchunk indie-inspiration for good measure – and you’ll find this vibrant Indie-Rock slice of delight from Color School thriving. Nothing I’d ever dare complain about when it comes to this tune, I feel like they absolutely nailed this one with tight writing, stunning execution, highlight vocals from Camille, and material that really brings those hooks to the surface in a way you couldn’t possibly miss. Energy is in the AIR surrounding the band as they rip through this tune…I’m as much of a fan of the way they play “Own” as I am of the way it’s written. Everything about “Own” sounds inspired, sounds like it has that authentic spark where you can hear the band is every bit as into playing it as we are engaged in listening to their results. Put it to you this way – they’ve done an excellent job on the chorus of “Own” – it’s far from any kind of anti-chorus with the brightened sing-along potential it has…but these verses…these VERSES are the kind that really stand out for all the right reasons. So you get what I mean? The chorus certainly doesn’t drag the song backwards, it’s a highly effective part of the song and it connects with its catchy, rebellious energy & spirit – but those verses! They drip with sweet melody, rhythm, and groove that I couldn’t get enough of – and I also really loved the vocalizations surrounding the main parts of the song as well…Camille really raises the stakes alongside the band on “Own.”
And then there’s “Issue” – a shifty little ditty that leans towards a stylistic dive into the swagger of Indie Blues-Rock. They’ve got sparkling guitar parts in here that can’t help but remind you of R.E.M. and how they added those in so well surrounding the vocals in their material – but then you’ve got like, a controlled & tamer version of the B-52’s to go with it…so it’s like all of Atlanta, Georgia up in their DC vibes here. I feel like the combination of vocals works strongly in their favor here, I think “Issue” is tightly played but completely loose in the groove, fully immersed in the endless cool this track provides – all-in-all, I know they’re not reinventing the wheel with this song, but it’s a heck of a rad cut to listen to. Like I’ve said many times, sometimes it’s not about pushing the boundaries – sometimes it’s just about rocking out to a rad rhythm or groove, and that’s exactly what Color School is up to here. Not gonna yield any complaints from any listening ears out there – people will be dancin’ it up and singin’ along to “Issue” with no problems at all. Dig a bit deeper into this tune and you’ll likely love the contrast you’ll find…while it’s got a new shiny surface and stylized sound you can’t help but enjoy, the lyrics will take this song into socially conscious and clever terrain that’ll make ya think a bit too. No harm in that!
So where are we here…they ended off the first half of their new EP with one of its most accessible tunes, and they keep that momentum flowing, albeit in a more delicate & beautiful direction, with “What’s On Your Mind” – and this could very well be the highlight gem of the entire record for many people out there. Camille is in a remarkable duet here, trading the lead confidently with one of her best performances and adding perfectly to the harmonies when backing up the humble sound of the other main set of vocals in the mix here. “What’s On Your Mind” has a genuinely sweet innocence to its atmosphere and lyricism, a song that you can tell was written from a truly loving perspective, and they execute on that sincerely. For those familiar with Blue Rodeo, Color School will probably remind you a lil’ bit of that band here…and that’s a positive, this song suits them and serves the record really strongly. Those hooks in the chorus are pure perfection…and overall, I love how it’s laid out with the more subtle approach to the first verse being built upon by Camille showing up for the second. No matter what way you slice it or look at this tune from though, they’ve really got something special here, no doubt about it. Solo is right on the money, the sweetness of the song connects, the harmonies are gold, the writing is too – even with this tune being as melodically delicate as it is…my gut tells me there’s a single-worthy song here. Each time I spun this record, I became more & more convinced that this is the song that shows Color School in the most beautiful light – “What’s On Your Mind” is 100% gorgeous. Bonus points to the bass & drums in the rhythm section of this song too…in this band really…they’re a perfect pairing.
Bass movin’ & groovin’ quickly bouncing up & down the frets on “Before Now” – I gotta admit, I have a total soft-spot for tunes like these that blend a throwback vibe into something relevant for right now like this. Like…c’mon…for real, this is one hell of a cool jam and they’re holding nothing back when it comes to letting this one rip…”Before Now” is freakin’ less than two minutes and one whole lot of fun. They race right back into the true Garage-Pop sound they’re known for on “Before Now” and deliver a cut that’s spot-on for style, well-crafted, and focused on the kind of sound it’s truly going for. Taking you for a trip through time, complete with keyboard sounds that would probably be iffy were they to be found in ANY other setting than this one, they’ve got a nicely controlled freakout song for your sockhop soundtrack here. They’re nearly into Surf-Rock here…drawing on that 50’s/60’s sound and really injecting the passion, theatrics, and energy into it that’ll get the people listening. Like I always say, if you go after an idea with real commitment, the kind you’ll hear in their performance throughout this sweet ride on “Before Now” – you’ll come out with the kind of results that’ll connect to an audience out there. It’s because you KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt that Color School loves playing “Before Now” that we end up loving it just as much…authentic happiness like this translates through music & pulls us all in.
“Another Heartache” needs another bump or two in volume is what it needs another of – other than that, I love this gentle melody and think it’s one of the strongest on the record. They can hear this one comes out quieter than the rest though…so fix it friendies…get’er done, bring it up in line with the rest so that no one is even remotely inclined to skip over a fantastic final tune on Close Enough To Fix. Heck – the title of this record even implies the solution for this very song! Anyhow…I’ve got control over that too I suppose, so I cranked this up a bit to sink it into my old-man ears and get the most out of this impressively sweet, bold, and beautiful tune. Camille puts in an absolutely exceptional performance here, nearly opera-esque in terms of the demands it asks from her, but she 100% delivers with confidence and genuinely charming swagger & style. And make no mistake – this fine lady can hit some HUGE notes and light-up that microphone damn well any time she chooses to; Camille will go on to display a seriously impressive range filled with powerful moments from the low to the high notes. Guitars have had excellent moments throughout the record, but I loved the intimate performance you’ll find on this song perhaps more than any other when it came to those…”Another Heartache” is really one of those magical melodies though that you couldn’t find fault in…there’s a timeless, classically angelic grace & real soul at work on this last song, ending Close Enough To Fix on a real memorable highlight. Sincere shout-outs to them all, Bill Kalish (Drums), Jerry H (Guitars/Vocals), Paul Hyland (Bass), Camille Miller (Vocals), and guest Jimmy Cavanaugh – you all deserve a high-five for supplying great music & good times.
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