Red is the color most recognizable to the brain. It conjures up memories of anger, blood, and brute force. It brings out any color it is placed in back of, case in point, the Nazi flag. Do you think the Nazi flag would be as horrific if its background was purple? On the contrary green is the color most stated as a favorite. It conjures up images of calmness, peace and serenity and may remind a viewer of sitting under a tree. These are some of the most prominent examples of symbolism in the standard artist’s pallets. One may not know, but everything a painter does counts for something, right down to the color of a single hair. Ever see those paintings in the modern art museum that seem to be just splotches of color? For some people they mean a world of information. This has very little to do with music though, as an instrument can make only sound. Or can it? Before the roots to modern pop music were planted famed composers used to use sound to paint a picture in the listener’s ear. Granted, it takes a very skilled composer to do this. As I pop in the CD for the aptly named Extra Blue Kind’s debut album, “The Tide and the Undertow" I wonder, will this be that kind of band? The answer; probably not, but they’re pretty decent all the same.
As an album The Tide and the Undertow is not about the loudest music, but it’s not about the softest, it’s not the most emotional, but it’s by far not robotic in feeling. It’s an album full of musical compromises. Songs range in feel and style while all staying under a fairly generic indie genre. Songs like “Out of My Hands" are as poppy as they come, falsetto vocal solo, hard rock chorus and all, while single, “Pinch, Blink, Stay Alive" is centered around a very memorable, but lo-fi melody, but hardly ever rocks out. Lead singer, P. David Hazel has a voice almost identical to that of the Cure’s static haired frontman Robert Smith. Lyrically he is fairly bland, relying on simple non squetiors and catchy melodies to get his musical point across, but he comes up with enough of them to hold a song up on the words alone, something only some singers can do. The biggest downfall I can find in his voice is that it’s too standard, like most of the music the band makes. I suppose it has a lot to do with the production of the album, which is alright, just nothing special.
Extra Blue Kind is the kind of band that defies your expectations with every new song. Once you hear one track you might say, oh they’re just another singer-songwriter acoustic band, until the next track when you decide to think maybe they’re a bass driven pop band. Either way you slice it, they’re fairly generic and unoriginal, but fun to listen to for the most part. Beat wise, drummer Randee Eimer is far from a genius, but he gets the job done with a good amount of creativity to his name. When a bass line is as 4-4 standard as it is in track #8, “Only Our Appeal" he’s a good guy to have around to add a little bit of (excuse my Ebonics) flava to a fairly shameful pop tune. But don’t get me wrong the album has its fair share of great tracks. Among them are the album’s two singles, “Make Your Self Useless", a Wolf Parade-esque journey through the indie/rock/pop that makes these guys enjoyable and the other single, a little piece of acoustic genius called “Pinch Blink Stay Alive". Then in-between these two mediums comes “You Came Crashing". It seems the producer got a little lazy, letting some glitches go by unnoticed, but other than that it’s pretty great. Catchy power pop verses and big emotional sing-along choruses punctuated by the occasional country guitar ramble is the structure of the song.
To me Extra Blue Kind seems like the kind of band that will get better with time, but for now they are just seem like the used-to-be local band that probably shouldn’t have made it because they bite off so much from more experienced bands. Though they have the ability to right great songs, they might just be a little too inexperienced to make it anywhere in the music world, but heck that didn’t stop a lot of bands. For now I’m not sure if they’re the kind of band I can see many colors or symbols in their music, but I’ll keep an open mind and wait for the next record.
The album ends with the bouncy dance folk number named “Sugar". Distorted vocals can’t much make up for Hazel’s disappointing lyrics, but they make for a really cool feel that has an interesting contradiction with the anxious beats. Faux-sex noises in the bridge area really kill what could be a decent song. An album that is made up of hops and skips ends on crack in the asphalt, leaving one fu
ked up knee. Overall the album gets a 2.5/5 for me, I think if you read the review you can see what’s wrong in it for me, but it shouldn’t stop you from listening to a few tracks (see paragraph three).