There was time not long ago that everything was not available at the click of button and if you lived in some far of place away from a city with a cool record store you would make these trips to go record shopping or you’d allow for extra time when you were road-triping for a show to hit the local stores for some record shopping. In the early 90’s I was big into shoegaze, which back then was used a derogatory term. Any time I was in Pittsburgh, DC, or Cleveland I made time to hit up Eides, Wax Stax, Olsons or Smash! to look for the latest EP from the likes of Swervedriver, Sweet Jesus, Catherine Wheel, Boo Radleys, Ride, Revolver, Telescopes, Adorable, Pale Saints, Kitchens of Distinction or Chapterhouse, essentially any band that had been spawned by My Bloody Valentine and the Jesus and Mary Chain. That was the shoegaze heyday. There were singles and eps coming fast and heavy and a lot of it was crazy good but near impossible to get your hands on, so finding an new ep from any of these bands was always always a rush and something to bring back home as booty and laud over your friends.
Of course eventually the scene faded and fell out of favor with the British music weeklies and believe it or not even I got tired of it for a while. Maybe it was my formative age, but that was a great time and one of the last movements that really had a lasting impact on music. Look around today and there are still bands making records with effect pedals and the tremolo bar prominently featured. The thing is, it rarely if ever gets done as good as it was done originally back then. Enter Ringo Deathstarr, a band with an obvious sense of humor and a way with the tremelo bar and a melody like none I’ve heard since that 90’s heyday. Singles and EP’s have trickeled out from the Austin band for a few years that are nearly as hard to find as those afore mentioned EP’s (Most of them were compiled on the Japanese release Sparkler). The band finally have an album set to unleash on an unsuspecting public. Colour Trip is so jaw-dropping good it will make you check the packaging date. Delving into the shoegaze genre a band is sure to get called derivative, and trainspotters may pick apart Colour Trip for obvious references like opening track Imagine Hearts sounding like Soon, or Elliot Frazier’s baritone kind of sounding like William Reed and I will admit that you can place some things and pinpoint them to MBV, Jesus and Mary Chain, etc. but for the most part Ringo Deathstarr are taking the ball and running down their own rabbit hole.
Who cares if My Bloody Valentine ever release another record. The next generation has arrived and the one after that for that matter and Ringo Deathstar ain’t looking back. They’re not ringing their hands about whether or not the tremelo bar was tweaked at precisely a 20 degree angle or if the vocals sound exactly like fish swimming through 60 degree water. Listening to Colour Trip, you know they know it’s right and it totally instinctive. The sounds are earsplitting, and euphoric. The buzz saw guitars, butterfly tremelo, the boy-girl vocals and melodies all combine to make a shoegaze record that can stand toe to toe with Nowhere, Whirlpool, Mezcal Head or Loveless.
Thanks to the most excellent Chills for the image up top.