The three members of Awesome Color couldn’t have possibly been alive during The Stooges’ early, nihilistic and dangerous days, let alone old enough to have actually been at Max’s when Iggy bled out half his insides. So it’s something of a curiosity that this trio can create such a heavy and hairy sound that bears more than a passing resemblance to The Stooges or their Detroit peers, MC5. Being that Awesome Color began in Ann Arbor, it may just be in their blood; they’ve inherited that burly, Big Muff sound. Whatever the source of such, ahem, raw power, Awesome Color has it in spades.
Their self-titled album, released on Thurston Moore’s Ecstatic Peace label and produced, in part, by Moore himself, is a classic garage rock record that puts any of the past decade’s half-assed attempts by other bands to shame. Any Swede in a suit can attempt Stooges theft and make it passable, but these three young American gents do their rock ‘n’ roll right. This is fuzzed-out, heavy, and completely awesome stuff, as their name might lead you to believe. Opener “Grown” slaps the listener with some ironclad guitar chugs and steady skin-beating, courtesy of Allison Busch. Frontman Derek Stanton channels Iggy Pop in his slithering, lascivious vocals, yet with his own ragged charm.
“Ridin'” has some kick-ass riffage, coasting into a faster pace than the album’s gut-punching opener. Stanton approaches with a near whisper in the Sabbath-like “Free Man,” before coolly declaring “I’m just a free man.” “Unknown” explodes with blasts of blazing hot harmonica blowing and wild guitar freakouts, while “Hat Energy” proves to not only be a cool title, but a great mantra when Stanton recites that he’s got it “on his skateboard” and “all over this town.”
Awesome Color live up to their name without fail, offering 8 tracks of awesomeness and vibrance, unfailingly carrying on the legacy of their home state’s rock heroes, despite currently living in New York. And though I’ve never seen them live, I hear there’s some crazy shit that goes down when they perform. Considering the kind of damage that they do on record, I recommend everyone bring a helmet.
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.