Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog) (last update 5/23/2017)

August 7, 2011

Overwhelming Colorfast ~ Bender (EP)

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Style: alt rock, pop, punk
Label: Relativity

Year: 1992
Home: San Francisco, California (disbanded)

Members: Bob Reed ~ vocals/guitar
Dan Reed ~ drums
Torg Hallin ~ guitar
Bean ~ bass

Back when I was in high school I'd wander into the record store on a weekly basis ... if not more or at least multiple stores in one week ... & would buy a bunch of cheap CD's by bands I didn't know that had something interesting about them, such as songs, cover art, or maybe just the name of the band. I discovered many bands this ... Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe was from all three of those things ... even the first song that ever made me cry (so far the count is 3) was a chance discovery in this pattern. Overwhelming Colorfast is one of those discoveries. I liked the name. Twenty years later I still like it. Bender was my surprise buy so long ago because the songs included Paul Simon's "For Emily" & the Dozier/Holland/Holland soul classic "You Keep Me Hangin' On", plus an original tune called "Roy Orbison". I could tell from the psychedelic art that this was an alt rock band, though this was really before the term became fashionable so underground pop/punk might be better, which is a style I tend to not gravitate to but this song line-up got me curious. Plus, 4 of the 5 tracks were done live in a single take with no overdubs except for some backing vocals as was prominently advertised on the back cover. Further, EPs are great because if you end up not liking the band you've spent less money & only suffered through a few songs. Quite a few bands I wish I'd gone the EP route. As for OC I was sad I did. Listening again almost 20 years later I like them as much as ever ... though ironically I listen to alt rock even less. Overly distorted guitars chug on without being out of control & those who know Husker Du/Bob Mould will find many similarities from the music to vocals. Now I know Mould but back when I didn't so the similiarities hit me now giving me a new insight into OC. "You Keep Me Hangin' On" is nothing like it's original even with a psychedlic opening though it has backing vocals, a prominent bassline, guitar breaks & the most distinct arrangement of any of the songs. R&B has clearly left the building here. "For Emily" is a two minute distorted rushed affair that doesn't even do justice to Simon's lyrics, but everything comes back in line for the original "Roy Orbison" which shows Reed's composing abilities in a great light. It would get a more polished & overdubbed makeover OC's second full-length album that was in the near future following this little bridge between albums. The other Reed original "Roll The Ocean" shows some variety with melodic guitar playing versus just chords & reminds one of the same spirit that was moving through Bleach-era Nirvana or early Pearl Jam. The album ends with a incredibly polished track pulled over from OC's self-titled debut in the Beatles' "She Said, She Said", showing quite a difference in sound from the guitars, to the mix to the singing. It's like, though Mother Love Bone & Pearl Jam share members they don't have the same sound in the least. This final tune is also much more pop-oriented then the one-take tracks & it's hard to say if this is a bonus or not ... it's nice but the other tracks are grittier with a bigger wall of guitar sound & stand out even given much worse production values. OC's debut was produced by Butch Vig just before working with the Smashing Pumpkins on the similiarly wall of sound Siamese Dream. One might wonder if OC wasn't a test run for Vig. Bender is not adventurous nor polished, it's a rough & tumble affair of lots of energy & semi-good production quality & actually is closer to the OC live sound than the polished music which almost disgraces them. It's drawing on the punk side of Bob Mould no doubt. Coming on the heals of their debut Bender is an easy little release for new fans to bite into for this little band of yore who would release three full-length albums before vanishing into obscurity.

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