Originally published at Performer Magazine.
Roaming, Reverb-Saturated Trip Rock
Colors, Cambridge, MA psych-rock outfit Doomstar!'s latest release, is an epic and outrageous debut – even though it clocks in at under half an hour, with half of its track listing devoted to miniature ambient interludes. From the first note, the band carries listeners on a sweeping, sometimes-deconstructed music-scape that turns and lurches, leaps and falters across a terrain of moments held together by the slimmest thread: Doomstar!'s tonal consistency was my only clue that one minute's free-time ambient wanderings and the next minute's driving hard-rock were the work of one band. Rhythm comes and goes in waves, the drums less responsible than the guitar for holding a groove...although generally speaking, it is rhythm, not melody, which defines this album. The sparse vocals are so drenched in reverb, so quietly mixed, that they play support even when it seems they should be front and center. It's all the more confusing, since these are lovely harmonies and fascinating lyrical fragments getting lost under the tires. But the intense tin-can atmospherics are obviously central to Doomstar!'s aesthetic, geared more toward rambling psychedelic experiments in sound than the grandiose Radiohead anthems to which half of these tracks allude. And after a few consecutive listens, the "listening to a rock band playing down a hallway and through a wall" vibe started to hook me. Ultimately, I decided this music is subtler and more evocative than I'd first recognized. Colors is perfectly captured by Adam Bach's album artwork: somehow both ethereal and percussive, faded and intense...somewhere between the garage and outer space.
Key Track: "Helicopter Pilot" develops well in spite of a constant beat, riding the energy from expository guitar chords through key changes, solos, and marked changes in mood (edgy and anxious into surf rock peppy and hopeful).