The air cloaking the Los
Angeles indie scene must be stifling; how else to
explain this quartet taking nearly a decade to make its official long-playing
debut? Or perhaps it’s simply a matter of the Color Turning wisely opting to
hone their chops and develop their sound – and then let fortune take its course.
Indeed, Stone Temple Pilots/Velvet Revolver frontman plucked the group from
virtual obscurity for his fledgling imprint Soft Drive, and whether or not your
image of Weiland jibes with your notion of what makes a good talent scout,
there’s no question the dude’s demonstrated plenty of commercial potential (and
follow-through) over the years, personal demons be damned.
Yet though Color Turning may suddenly have a leg up on its
modern-rock peers, it also has an evocative, eclectic approach that should help
set it apart from the pack, and that counts for a lot in this competitive
business. Following the ambient-tinged guitar/piano opening track “Slow As
Passing Cars” the group catapults into the first of several anthems that nail
down its core Britpop-influenced sound: “Where the Sky Ends” is all shimmering
fretwork, urgently peripatetic percussion and yearning, keening vox. A few
songs later there’s the undulating, part-funky/part-atmospheric “Me Versus
You,” which deftly employs shifting dynamics to build through a series of
mini-crescendos. And the strummy, churning “Awake,” coming near album’s end,
similarly proves its mettle as a potential pre-encore concert closer.
This is not to say the group is wholly unique (and one
doesn’t imagine a superstar like Weiland signing up a bunch of loose-cannon
mavericks anyway). The Coldplay/U2 template seems overly welded into place on a
number of tracks, for example the Edge-like arpeggios in the aforementioned “Where
the Sky Ends” and echoes of Chris Martin’s overwrought vocal style in “Phantom
Parade” and “Doppelganger.” And – speaking of vocals – it sounds like there’s
an awful lot of Auto-Tune being deployed on the album; in contemporary
commercial pop Auto-Tune may be commonplace, but ultimately it will serve to
permanently date a record just like the newly-emerging digital reverb of the
mid ‘80s wound up dating a lot of records in the past.
Those caveats noted, let’s split the difference and give
this undeniably talented band its due: solid songwriting and passionate
performances can carry you a long way, hopefully to the next stage of artistic
development. There’s something sincere and authentic about the Color Turning
that makes you want to root for them.
Standout Tracks: “Where
the Sky Ends,” “Awake” FRED MILLS