Album review: Nudecolors EP is slick, commercial rock done well
Normally, I like to pair EP's in this space, but now that we're in the throes of summer — when album releases are not coming as fast and furious as they do in the spring and fall — it's slim pickings. There's just one little ole EP without any others to stick it next to. So, what the hey; let's put this sucker under the microscope.
Nudecolors is a Duluth band with a name that could use improvement. The compound word that isn't actually a compound word is one issue. Then there's the word "nude," which a prude would use instead of "naked." Further, it's not clear how the colors got to be nude, or what distinguishes nude colors from clothed, decent ones, but this is the band's name. This is not to say that "Nakedcolors" would be a better name. In fact, it would be worse, somehow.
Their five-song mini-album is called "Paradise," which is a boring word to use as the title of your band's five-song mini-album. Mostly because that word might put that insipid Coldplay song that always seems to be playing on gas-pump televisions or in JC Penney in your head.
Before we get into this, can we talk about that cute little badass 8-year-old girl playing "Good Times Bad Times" by Led Zeppelin on the internet? Did you see that? Most of these "little kid plays rock song" videos are horrific, bad, boring and an utter waste of time, because rarely are the kids cute enough or their musicianship good enough to justify a watch. But this girl, Yoyoka Soma of Japan, not only nails the song for the most part, but she regularly breaks into megawatt smiles after she crushes one of John Bonham's fills. Make no mistake: this girl is incredible. John Bonham is probably the best rock drummer of all time, with skills akin to great jazz drummers like Buddy Rich, and this little girl holding sticks that look like baseball bats in her tiny hands makes his drum part sing. It's enough to bring a tear to your eye.
Anyway, Nudecolors. They're fine, even if their EP features the line "You take Pilates classes for your health," and it doesn't seem to be a joke. They're a very commercial band who sound like they use hair products to look better and not weirder. They're squeaky clean, with lots of funky basslines and disco guitar. They kinda sound like the recent U2 material, but not as bad as that.
Opener "Heat" would sound fine coming out of a shopping mall sound system, and it's got a fairly nice pre-chorus that boasts a neat little stutter-step beat, and the chorus sounds smooth as heck. There are neatly-placed harmonies and subtle synths, and it ends before it overstays its welcome. "Better Things" gets more indie-rock and angular, even approaching Talking Heads territory at one point, but the chorus kinda sounds like Third Eye Blind or one of those bands. (Read: bands that are bad.)
Look, these guys aren't an 8-year-old gleefully playing Led Zep like she wrote it, okay? But if you like radio rock that has a fair amount of pep in its step, you might go for this. It recalls stuff like The Killers or The Wallflowers. It seems like fedora rock to a certain degree, but it's undeniably well-crafted. The singing is confident and engaging, the drumming is energetic and accomplished, and so on. But if you're not a fan of super-commercial stuff, this might be a hard sell.
It's fine, but it's no Yoyoka Soma. Did you see her nail those triplets with her foot?
Album: "Paradise" EP
Recorded by Rob Oesterlin at Scratch Studios, Duluth
Personnel: Jesse Sayler (drums), Darin Steenerson (bass), Nic Hanson (guitar, vocals), Steve Hamlin (vocals, guitar), C.J. Hanson (keyboards)
Upcoming show: 4 p.m. Saturday at Lake Avenue Live, 394 S. Lake Ave.