Colour Me Wednesday
Explosive four-piece of Uxbridge have influences of the early-’90s; tied together with an of-the-moment urgency: it makes them essential listening.
Shut is available at:
The album I Thought It Was Morning is available at:
MIXED genders and mixed agenda are subjects rarely discussed in the…
music business. The nature of bands tends to be somewhat homogenised. Groups stray towards either the all-male or all-female stratagem (predominantly the former). It seems that there is a disproportionate amount of male bands on the current scene- most of whom are plying their trade in the Indie realm. Sexism and gender subjugation is an issue in society at-large. In the workplace; in sport and in social segments- even in 2013- there is still a rifeness of inequality and disproportionality. As much as sectors such as government and business are male-dominated, it is alarming that there is lacking awareness (or self-awareness). It is unsure whether- and if so, when– the inexactitude will supersede; but small steps are required- gradually made by as many feet as possible. Feminism is an important facet of the modern age; and is something that needs it voices as wide as possible. I have always had a cautiousness when femininity is proffered in music. The likes of Beyonce have somewhat underpinned their cause with their life trajectory (marry a millionaire; make millions; donate nothing to women’s charities). It seems like a hollow message when you are on a pulpit, singing down to your audience- the likes of Beyonce may have had a hard upbringing, yet she is in no way on a level plain with her fans and supporters; or most women as a whole. Of course gender inequality is not an issue in music itself. It is an industry with a welcome idiosyncrasy: doors are open to everyone, regardless of financial constraints or situation. There are no rules; no interviews; no narrow-minded attitudes with regards to the entry fee: if you have recording equipment and a song(s); then you can take your place in the market- although this does cause an overall lack of quality, which I will mention later. Musicians themselves have an important role; yet have little political sway. If the roles of M.P.s and female musicians was transposed; we would be in a much fairer society- where the inequalities of life would become more apparent; and swiftly rectified. Taking all this into consideration, you may ask this: what is my overall point? Well; it seems that music- although politicisation of music is a big mistake- is a sector that continues to grow (by the week); and it is the songwriters and artists of today, whom have the biggest influences of the young (probably more so than any other type of professional). As much as I have enjoyed the offerings of all-male bands recently; it seems that a lot of female-orientated musical wonder; tends to emanate from the solo scene. With the band market currently the most jam-packed of sectors (how many new bands does one encounter by the week? Seems like dozens!); public eyes are focused on their shores. I have heard some diverse and spectacular music from female-heavy bands, ranging from home-grown talent such as The Staves and Fake Club. The former comprise three sisters; whom promote spectral and ethereal harmonies- and have currently completed a large tour of the U.S. The latter are an up-and-coming rock band, with perhaps one of the greatest modern guitarists in their ranks (Carmen Vandenberg). Although sexism is a rare occurrence within music, it seems that a fickleness is a bigger issue. Too many media outlets focus too heavily on the male bands- letting some of the female groups slide somewhat. Commercially and historically it may be the male bands whom have pulled in the biggest plaudits, yet some of the best sounds I have heard recently, have emanated from female bands. If the music industry is to become more diversified- and increase its quality and ambition- then ears need to be focused away from the (yawn) four-piece-male-Indie-band-whom-love-Arctic-Monkeys. Before I arrive at the feet of Colour Me Wednesday, I wanted to bring up my two favourite themes/rants: musical locality and ’90s influence. I have practically turned purple, trying to find great bands in the south. As well as in the music media; most people I know (whom have their ears trained) keep banging on about the Indie bands of Manchester and Liverpool. It appears that there is too much focus on the northern bands- and consequently there seems to be a whole batch of Mancunian bands each day-with the abiding sound being in the Arctic Monkeys/Oasis mould. I am getting tired of the predictability and over-familiarity with new sounds (I am excluding solo acts largely); wondering when the acts from the South of England will ride up. Over the past few months I have heard only a tiny amount of bands from areas south of Watford (The Staves are based in Watford so are excluded). London is strangely quiet and introverted when it comes to pushing forth new music. If one were to detail schematics; draw a climate/topographic map (detailing what type of music was played where; and which decade is most evocative in their sound); then Manchester and Liverpool would be thick with Indie bands- each seemingly inspired by ’70s legends and ’90s classics. Yorkshire would be most speckled; having jazz, blues, swing and doo-wop colours- with a mix of ’40s, ’50s and ’70s-modern-day influence. If eyes were to track down to London, then the map would be less bold. There are some great musicians in the capital; yet when it comes to great new bands, well… there seems to be a sensation of rations. I have also been barking on dementedly about the lack of 1990s influences within modern music. I will arm wrestle a nun to prove my point; but the ’90s was (and still is) the finest decade for music- ’60s be damned; you are over-rated! In many of my recent reviews, I have (as well as been passively-aggressively poking fun at The Guardian’s limitations as music reviewers) been asking why there are not more ’90s flavours in 2013: given that it was one hell of a majestic decade?
Colour Me Wednesday are a group whom have a keen ear for the music of the ’90s: in fact, the Indie bands (of the early half of the decade) are big influences for them. The band consist of Harriet and Jennifer Doveton; Carmela Pietrangelo, and (sole male) Sam Brackley. Our girls (and guy) are based in Uxbridge: the administrative headquarters of the London Borough of Hillingdon; it is located in the west of London and has a population of just over 26,000. Uxbridge is an area not usually associated with musical outpourings; yet has a landscape and history that would suggest fertile and ripe conditions. Away from the bustle and congestion of Central London, it has given our intrepid quartet room to be inspired, create; make their ambitions known. As much as I have been mentioning defects and glaring omissions within new music; lurking in mind has been a dissatisfaction: too few new acts provide enough relevant information. Most give a simplified Twitter and Facebook account; so that for people like me, you are left struggling what to say. Our Uxbridge clan are pretty giving when it comes to details: you can find out a lot about them; but not too much. With Jen on vocals; Carmela on bass; Harriet on guitar, and Sam on drums, the quartet have been electrifying audiences for a while now; bringing their blend of sound as far and wide as possible. The guys don’t do music civil wars: no competitions with other bands; they simply want to bring their songs and movement onto the scene- and intend to stay around for as long as possible. With a wide range of idols and influences, that go from The Beatles and R.E.M., through to The Sundays and Dinosaur Jr. (as well as those ’90s Indie flavours); the band bring a range of textures and sensations to their overall sound: it will stick in your head for a long time after it has ended. Looking into their social media pages, and one gets the impression that they are all down-to-Earth and good-humoured. On their Facebook page they attest to enjoying “computer gamez (sic.)” as well as “hyper kittens and puppies“. The three girls are all striking and beautiful; raven-haired and stunning; with our percussive hero being very dapper and handsome (not sure how to compliment guys aesthetically). Although the group has been in existence for 5 years now, the present line up in only a few months old: one that hopefully is cemented, as the sound and tight kinship between the members gives the music a conviction and urgency, few other current acts can claim. Their band name struck a chord with me. On their official website, there is a sketch of Wednesday (from The Addams Family)- making me wonder if that is where the moniker came from. It sounds like a game for child fans of the show (and films): a black-and-white sketch of Wednesday that you can spend literally minutes colouring in. Not sure where the fun is, but such is the fascination (with the band’s name) that several theories spring to mind. Luckily they are not affiliated with the God-awful ’80s/’90s act Color Me Badd. The Oklahoma four-piece sold 12 millions records in the U.S. (inexplicably); and are still operating as a trio to this very day. In addition to their pervy signature song I Wanna Sex You Up; the band never really won over critics (probably not hard to see why). Luckily our London-based heroes are filled with intrigue and momentum; having a sound that could see them playing festivals and large venues very soon- who would bet against a Leeds or Reading slot in a few years? Having experienced Glastonbury; where acts from the sublime (The Rolling Stones) to the terrible (Azealia Banks; Mumford & Sons) have been dominating the news, our Londoners could easily make their way to the illustrious festival- they have a ubiquitous quality and utilitarian likeability that could see them win over crowds. If proof were needed (that they could fill seats aplenty) sites like The Girls Are can lay claim as to their prowess. The music website reviewed a gig of the band’s last year; enraptured by the quartet’s incredible hooks and blitzkrieg sounds: with punk and Indie-Pop layers weaving in and out one another. The band market is- as I have regularly suggested- the most compacted and sought-after there is: hundreds and thousands are playing across the U.K., yet only a small amount are worthy of attention. It is axiomatic that the group have affection and consideration for their fans. In addition to their album I Thought It Was Morning, they also offer variations and multiple versions of the L.P.- including a vinyl edition. The group provide plenty of choice for prospective fans. As well as vinyl and C.D. versions of the album, there is a digital version; as well as a Lyrics Booklet Zine- in addition to a 28-page booklet of lyrics, there are baby pictures (of the band) as well as explanations behind certain songs. The L.P. cover itself is a black-and-white comic book strip: various scenarios and scenes are represented with the album title appearing in individual panes. Too many new acts see themselves as completely indispensable and precious: afraid that by giving information away; making their music too readily-available, their appeal will wear thin. In 2013, we are faced with a swagger and wave of varying acts: each one hungry for recognition and fan-bases. If you take the business and seriousness of music too lightly- coming off as aloof or unconcerned- then you risk being forgotten about forever. Colour Me Wednesday want as many people to listen to their music (and buy it as well); giving fans choice, and making the job of reviewers (like me) a lot easier. Before you have even listened to a word of their music, you get a sense of what they are all about: where they came from; what turns them on (musically); how they got there- and where they want to go next. You will have to- *sob*- wait until July 28th to get your hands on the album; but their new single is readily available for digestion. Having gained a lot of positive feedback because of its infectious and stunning sound and sharp lyrics; the track is gaining mighty appeal. It is the lead-off track from their forthcoming 11-track set, and is a brilliant cut- representative of the group’s key and core sound and style. Before I get to the track itself, the future L.P. promises much intrigue- from the song titles alone! Numbers such as Unicorn In Uniform; (I’m Not Coming To Your) BBQ; You’re Not My Number One Bastard, and- the gloriously-named-Purge Your Inner Tory, are to be found. The humour and fascination that the song titles proffer, have roots in the punk era; where similarly-glorious song names could be found- in fact I Thought It Was Morning could easily be an album by The Clash (circa. 1978). With a rich and all-encompassing motif that aims for as many people as possible; tied to a sound that has elements of ’70s punk, ’90s Indie and U.S. and U.K. influence; my fascination was stacked high.
The video for Shut certainty seemed fun. It depicts Jen spinning around on a playground merry-go-round; smiling as the song plays (although one suspects she became nauseated after a little while). The sense of fun and energy is played out as soon as the intro. begins. The combination of guitar and drum- in the initial stages- builds up and up; then down and back down again. The structure is at once unusual but authoritative; with edges of punk legends such as The Clash and The Ramones, as well as modern-day Indie shades. It lasts but a brief time, yet sets the mood perfectly: punching a few times; retreating; before coming back around again. The band are in awe of acts such as Bikini Kill; and whilst that group’s better-known tracks (Rebel Girl for instance) are noted for their heavier edges; the two groups share a similar talent for potent and razor-edged riffs. Whilst our London quartet may have a more ubiquitous sunshine to their sound (on the evidence here); the authority and conviction with which the intro sparks up, promises a tantalising song. When Jen’s voice arrives on the scene, the tones are less of the likes of Strummer and Ramone; instead touches of Kate Nash can be detected (as well as Kathleen Hanna). As the pogoing and striking guitar, bass and drum combination works its magic, our heroine speaks of some unsettling truths: “It’s like I’ve failed my teens/Now I’m failing my twenties”. Although there is little sign of introversion and sadness in her voice, there is a matter-of-fact calm to be heard- a smile in fact is almost audible when “High on anxiety” is sung. It is the way that words and sentences are phrases as well; which adds emotional weight. When “High on anxiety” is proffered, Jen’s voice grins; the rejoinder “Low on attention” is presented with a resigned sigh- everything is more convincing and impressive if attention is given to projection. It is clear that there are anxieties and concern in our young heroine’s thoughts. Whereas most songs (modern mainly; historical as well) deal with vicissitudes in and out of love; power games in relationships; blame and revocations (read: sympathy-seeking), Shut’s mandates are more relevant (to the modern youth). Our heroine does not speak of the woes of modern-life because she is in the minority (and needs to be saved); she does so because she is in the majority (and is speaking the truth). Even someone like me; in my late-’20s (30 technically), can relate to sentiments such as: “There’s a million and one things/That we’ll never make sense of”. The central voice is of young London: speaking on behalf of the young U.K.; it is strong and convincing, with flecks of tongue-in-cheek and punk spit- not many voices you can say that of, in today’s climate. The band are constantly consummate: professionally tight, with a relentless energy and evocation of punk and Indie-Pop corners. The riffs and sonic evocations that are offered up are never too heavy or intrusive: simply hook-laden and catchy. Little snippets of past masters can be traced in the sound; as well as classic ’90s flavours (I detected some early-career Blur and Oasis- which I hope the band do not object to). At the heart of proceedings are the words- open-hearted and honest, as well as rally-against-the-world: “Self-satisfied clowns/Ruin everything”. Whether the song’s theme has been forged due to uncertain weather; paradigm shift; heartbreak, or simply some arsehole being too arsehole-ish remains to be revealed; yet our heroine puts her points across with loveable pugnacity. For a woman who claims “(‘Cause) I can’t stand it/I can’t sit down”; the restless energy makes the song strike a hard chord. With a voice that has semblances of Miss Nash; there are sweet-natured and seductive tones as well that the likes of Daughter and Haim have popularised. It is these combinations (and juxtapositions) that make Doveton, Jen, such a compelling singer. As the supporting trio infuse the mood with electricity and sublime punch (great riffs, impressive bass work and solid percussion are the hallmarks on offer); our heroine continues her thought-process- one which seems less of a diatribe, but more of a confessional turn. The following verse speaks of self-doubt (“Regrets set in”) and everything in-between (“And I’d change the world/One person at a time”). Whether the song is speaking to an unnamed man (ex-love perhaps); or just kicking out at the world, I am unsure; yet there seems to be a wider (and more pressing) malaise- our heroine has seen and felt her fair share of disappointment and unmet expectations. Future motifs on the comparative prosperity of the past (“Remember when things used to happen to me?”); and its irksome retrospect (“Yeah I hated that too”- one suspects there is sarcasm in the voice) are experienced. Bolstering and supporting the mood, the guitar and bass roll and sway- as the percussive waves crash around them. Our front-woman has an unerring positive edge to her voice; never succumbing to teenage angst or quivering sadness: it is the perfect blend to make you sympathise with her plight, but also get swept up in the song. Our twenty-something heroine was “Short on motivation”; in “Slow motion/Crumbling to dust”; her mind overwhelmed. Whether there is a abiding factor or fear that is mitigating her thoughts- the government; the nature of modern youth/life- it is not revealed; yet the song seems as much as a protest (“Are we numb to this outrage?”) as it does autobiographical. Ambiguity and mystery mingle together (within the final verse) as our heroine states: “‘Cause I can’t stand this/Adolescent state”, Jen’s voice sways and electioneers; chirps and rises, summoning up a riot of emotion, conviction and intention- more so than the likes of Kate Nash and Lily Allen muster. One of the most striking things about the songs are the contrasts and light and darks. Jen’s voice is pleasing and steeped in punk and Indie potential (and conviction); able to bring to life the song’s themes. The words themselves can appear Draconian and anxiety-etched: mixing regretful past days with modern uncertainty. It is the sonic evocations that tie it all together; marrying pulsating and nerve-jangling percussion with barbed-wire guitars; complete with tight and spine-straightening bass. There are whispers of U.S. punk acts like Green Day (think of their Dookie/Insomniac regency); as well as 1992-The Lemonheads. The punk and U.S. influences are apparent as an extended musical break/middle eight is introduced (2:18 onwards). It is here that the band galvanise their spiky and infectious codas- as our heroine is allowed to step away from the mic. (briefly; to catch her breath). As the chorus comes back around for a last time; our singer still wonders: “I don’t know why/I keep my mouth shut most of the time/When I burn inside”. In a way the song can be seen as a sly and subtle commentary on modern music. Our heroine talks of how she used to have disappointment; regrets keeping her mouth shuts; wanting to change the world “One person at a time”- although given what we know about the band (not wanting to compete); I may be reading too much into it. As the song ends and the dust settles, a point has been made loud and clear; and an insight into the thoughts and ideas of Colour Me Wednesday has been gained.
The band’s forthcoming L.P. promises much range and diversity. Not Much You Can Do’s anger and vitriol- mixed with rebellion and hard truths- is one side of the coin. Purge Your Inner Tory has an obvious target (“Tory boy you can’t solve anything“); whereas Unicorn In Uniform mixes clever wordplay (“You fetisise the truth that you can’t touch“). The band structure allows democracy and openness in the writing and creation. Songs are written by Harriet, Jennifer and Sam (mostly individually; occasionally in collaboration); so you get different perspectives and biography. In that sense too, there is no hogging of credit or a dictatorial lead: sharing and collaboration are bywords which enforce and cement the band’s effortless quality and conviction. Shut is the first song from I Thought It Was Morning; and one of the most stirring and evocative tracks. Whereas a number of the L.P.’s tracks have sharper and looser tongues (the F and C-bombs are deployed during certain tracks), Shut has a feeling and atmosphere that could see it played across BBC Radio (Radio 1 and 2 especially); as well as some of the less mainstream stations such as Xfm and Absolute Radio. It is the quality which will see them on the playlists of the best U.K. radio stations; in demand at festivals, and make their way above the sea of current bands- so that they stick around for years to come. The group’s all-inclusiveness and approachability, as well as the impressive online content will see them bring in a lot of new fans; and gives them an edge on most of their contemporaries. Each member brings a great deal of tightly-honed and loose-cannon glory to the pot. Shut is a song which lodges in your brain, and has you sympathising for our heroine- you lose yourself in the track’s gravity. Jen’s voice has a clear and local accent; making her accessible and unique. The way that the song’s words are inflected; treated; considered and pointed, show great consideration for intention and projection; ear-marking her out as a future singer to watch. Bass and guitar work is fantastically impassioned and energetic: it summons ’70s and ’90s punk authority (from the U.S. as well as the U.K.), whilst the percussion is charged and pulsating. Few modern bands are making similar sounds, as well as easing my anxious mind. In a market where Indie-heavy emphasis is the natural order: and diversity and differing sounds and given less consideration, it is refreshing to hear Colour Me Wednesday. Whilst most contemporaries are too fixated with narrow themes and songs that rely too heavily on relationship issues; there is also an issue about homogenisation: too many bands sound like too many others; leading to a indistinguishable blur. Our London quartet have plenty of chutzpah; tenderness; guts and intelligence: so few other bands have these unique colours. I am pleased that there are ’90s influences and tones within their sound (I hope to hear more of that in their L.P.)- as it is a decade that I miss dearly, and want to hear more of in modern music. What is best, is that the band is female-dominated (apart from Sam, whom is a dominant force). The group can re-appropriate and relaunch a female resurgence- distilling the male-dominated scene and adding some much-needed range. Too many four and five-piece male bands stalk the scene, and (apart from the solo scene) there are few female groups. Kudos to Brackley, Pietrangelo and the sisters Doveton; whom have covered a lot of ground and made huge impressions in a short time. If some of the song’s morals speak of past tense and present anxieties, then they should fear not: the future will be rosier and less uncertain. As much as the band market is bulging and burgeoning, its future prosperity and growth will be dependant on the truly worthy: not those whom are bland and unambitious. Too often I have encountered sub-par and unflinching bands; those for whom music seems like a diversion rather than a passion. Those willing to appreciate their position and offer something different and brilliant are the ones whom stand the test of time. Colour Me Wednesday- as well as gaining ground for the under-represented South of England- show signs of vitality and intention that will see them in the public consciousness for a long, long time. On the evidence of Push, they offer ambition, range, potency and a relevant voice (for contemporary musicians and the youth of today). The release of their L.P. (in late July) will be the test and summation of their current surge: and will also gain them a swathe of new fans and followers. In a Manchester/Indie-centric scene, it is essential that bands such as Colour Me Wednesday are fostered and promoted- so that diversity and originality can be proffered. Push is a bold and intent step; so listen hard and absorb its myriad layers. When the album is unleashed and consumable; I hope reviewers and media outlets help to share I Thought It Was Morning’s potentiality and benefits. If we want to keep music from stagnating and limping, then acts such as our Uxbridge quartet need more oxygen and support; but I am confident that this is…
SOMETHING that should not be a problem for them.