By Chris Gray
By Corey Deiterman
By Jef With One F
By Chris Gray
By Rocks Off
By Rocks Off
Spain Coloured Orange is an apt name. The spelling of "Coloured" gives away their Anglophilic tendencies, while both "Spain" and "Orange" connote warmth and sunshine. And their national debut EP, Hopelessly Incapable of Standing in the Way, is nothing if not redolent of a bunch of warm-sounding bands. Think ELO, Supertramp, Abbey Road-era Beatles and the Chicago of "Saturday in the Park" fame.
Or it sounds like all of that would if those bands featured a trumpet player who escaped from an Ennio Morricone orchestra or an Andalusian plaza de toros. That rambunctious, soaring horn of Eric Jackson joins with Gilbert Alfaro's sinewy, melancholy tenor and hooks-heavy electric pianos and the Moog synths/electronic gadgetry of Justin Peak to constitute the heart of the band's dense layering, while Randy Platt's guitar and the rhythm section of bassist Stephen Burnett and drummer James Diederich add spine. It all equals both a distinct sound of its own and an artistic triumph, a short but sweet rollicking good time.
Sampled carnival music kicks off the disc and slows to a crawl just as the band hammers out the first few notes of the beguiling track "Momentary Drama," in which Platt's bluesy guitar rises above the organ/piano/trumpet fray to good effect. SCO digs clever arrangements -- sudden tempo and even genre changes and bridges abound within individual songs, and here they throw in a bridge that sounds a lot like a tango. The spacey lullaby "Maybe It's True" starts out in the vein of "Let It Be" -- all warm, nearly naked piano chords -- and wafts onward on a bed of electronics into gently cosmic orbit before Jackson kicks the tune into overdrive with a sudden trumpet fanfare. "Let It Go" and "Persistent Intermission" are remakes of two driving, impressively textured rockers from the band's self-produced local EP of last year, and both will stick inside your head long after the disc ceases to spin, while "Will You Catch On" (another remake) shows off the band's jazzier side. On the other hand, " I Kid You Not" finds the band in funk mode -- the opening wa-wa guitars and "crime jazz" groove offer up potential theme music for the best 1970s cop drama never made, and it builds into a rock and roll rave-up that closes the CD with a nice wallop.
As much as I loved their local EP, this is even better. The sound is much improved, the new songs are great, and this is a band that is very much on the rise -- Houston's cheerleader-free answer to the Go! Team. And when you hear this CD, or better yet, head out to Numbers for this show, you'll be hopelessly incapable of standing still.