The Color Pharmacy: I will sneak inside your soul

The Color Pharmacy (Minneapolis, MN)
The Sudden Lovelys (Minneapolis, MN)

The Red Raven, Pueblo, CO
March 3, 2011

I had been looking forward to the Color Pharmacy’s show since I listened to their tracks online. Mid-set, the three boys step off the stage and get more intimate with the crowd. They play two songs. The first is “David,” a song that suggests feelings of guilt about a soldier’s return to modern civilization. The drum kit is left behind for shakers and foot stomps and claps of the crowd. The bassist dons a harmonica for the second song, “Fancy Boat,” about the experience of touring, and not selling out. The line that hooks me is “This isn’t what I thought I wanted, but it turns out to be more than I need.” Something about substances and getting fucked sticks out like a streaker running across the quad, and I leave the dance floor to whisper about it to my friend, who is sitting on the couch. The crowd is hooked, and it’s an experience none of us wants to come to an end. So the band plays continues, with an unplanned cover of Pj Harvey’s “This Mess We’re In,” rephrasing a line as a shout out to the hosts.

“Don’t ever change Red Raven
And thank you”

Later after the show, I ask my favorite question as a music lover: give me your top 3 flavors of the week. They always squawk. It’s too hard of a question, 5 would be easier. Matt O’Brien, the bassist, is stuck on The National, Delta Spirit and Manchester Orchestra, but only after crossing their recent showmates Usonia off the list. Jacob Quam (drummer, backing vox), also likes The National and Manchester Orchestra, but takes Mumford & Sons as his third. It’s funny to me how there’s always someone who can guess another member’s answers. So Matt guesses Jake Dilley’s (the singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist) answers as The National, REM and Radiohead. And he hit all three, but not in the same order of priority. Jake says he isn’t much into the most recent Radiohead album (who is?) but he goes for Amnesiac and Kid A. Though, we both agree it was pretty cool how King of Limbs was released, little fanfare, online, and early.

They think Mumford & Sons are a one off of Trampled by Turtles, and I think “Little Talks” by Of Monsters And Men, which to me has an uncanny resemblance to “Home” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. I’m playing them all of my recent favorites, and somehow my most recent painting makes its way out, half-covered with song lyrics. I challenge Jake to place all of them, as we have a great deal of overlap in our musical tastes. He describes a video of it burning, an idea he says I can have. They used to travel with multiple videos playing behind them. With all of their theatrics, it’s not hard to understand why they have so many upcoming shows booked at SXSW.

The band is accompanied by Jimmy Morrison, who gets driving duties, especially after late nights. Jimmy is an aspiring documentary filmmaker, and had a video camera attached to his face for much of the performance, and into the early morning as we took stop motion frames of a Lego project. He seems to be such an integral part of their band that I want to know what he listens to also. He says his top 3 current favorites are Andrew Bird, M. Ward, and “Texatonka” the Color Pharmacy’s current album.

Sleeping arrangements are discussed, inspiring talk about drawing invisible no-touching boundaries on beds. Or not so invisible, like wanting to use razor blades when you’re mad at your partner, or duct tape across the entire room, like Wayne did to Kevin in an episode of “The Wonder Years.” Jimmy fesses up about his snoring problem.

The Sudden Lovelys have left for bed before our film project is complete. There are no other words to describe Paige Prescher and Danny Ferraro other than lovely. Paige is a fantastic photographer, and they make beautiful music together. I want their life in way no one can understand. Jake guesses Danny’s top 3 as Leonard Cohen, Warren Zevon and Bone Thugs n Harmony, but Danny says Leonard Cohen, Ween, the Avett Brothers and Simon & Garfunkel. Paige shares Leonard Cohen and Ween, and can’t think of anything else. They are extremely gracious guests, and I feel bad for keeping them up so late. Be sure to check out this tune:

Blast this! Sudden Lovelys-Take It With You (Click to play in your default mp3 program, or right-click to download.)

The next day, I pop in ColoRx’s latest cd, Texatonka in my car, and I’m back in the throes by the end of the first song. I’m singing the lines “Before the nighttime’s over, I will find a way to sneak into your so-oul” at the top of my lungs in catharsis. There is a dissonance in the section change “Something was wrong, I guess I should have known” that is disconcerting. It wakes the listener the hell up. You thought you could coast through this listening experience, didn’t you, and you were wrong. Jake Dilley’s voice reminds me of Peter Gabriel at times, and Elvis Costello at others, with lingering word endings. The lyrics are solid and the album has quickly become one of my flavors of the week. There are sudden key and time signature changes that will keep a seasoned musician holding on. Ride Pt.2 reminds of our discussions about our recent breakups, about giving in to what your partner wants. There’s a complex emotional depth to the lyrics that haunt me, like he’s singing my story in every song, how love is the wonder drug, and how I keep trying to figure out who I am. Every time I hear the way the vocals sound far away on Violin Wind, I remember the description of the nightmare that inspired it. There is honestly not one single song on this album that doesn’t grab me, and I can see why Jimmy Morrison feels the same. I wish I had a chance to listen to it in depth before the interview, I’d ask him what the line about Mirrorballs means.

Blast this!! The Color Pharmacy-Before the Nighttime’s Over (Right-click to download or click to play.) I wish I could post every single song, but this one is the most intense. Please check them out if they come to your town, and buy Texatonka.

I can’t wait for them to come back, but they better play their Devotchka cover next time. I hope that I will see this band opening for a headliner like Death Cab for Cutie someday, if I have my way. Help me spread the word.