#11 – BASEMENT – COLOURMEINKINDNESS [spotify]
(feat. track – “Spoiled” [spotify])
I’ve written previously about the long shadow cast by Brand New’s Daisy. To my mind, Daisy was instrumental in rescuing the sounds of grunge and early-90s alt-metal from their unfortunate legacy of mook-core radio rock; it found a way to tap into the alienation and self-loathing and, just as importantly, the sensitivity of the genuine article by scalding away a generation’s-worth of cartoonish affectations that had accumulated atop it like so much foul paint. And while it didn’t necessarily excel at what it set out to do, its mere existence proved revelatory to a new era of musicians – Daisy became a tangible example of why these sounds and motifs, so hackneyed in their present state, were once invigorating and exciting to a bevy of kids two decades prior.
Colourmeinkindness might be the most sparkling example of that legacy yet. Basement may not have been influenced by Brand New directly, and yet the fact that such an album exists at all – has been critically acclaimed, at that – is indicative of the new paradigm to which Daisy cast form. That measured distance from its nearest predecessor is the key to its success – Colourmeinkindness avoids the copy-of-a-copy pitfall by offering crystal clear reflections of the original source material rather than echoing Brand New’s refractions. “Covet” channels the proto-emo vibe of Sunny Day Real Estate’s Diary. The ghosts of Helmet’s “Unsung” haunt “Black”. The slow stir of “Breathe” is composed of the same stuff that Billy Corgan’s dreams are made of. Vocalist Andrew Fisher frequently calls to mind Silverchair’s Daniel Johns and Bush’s Gavin Rossdale, two distinctive singers who, whatever their artistic failings, never lacked for either passion or technique in the vocal department. I don’t know to what degree any of those acts were Basement’s direct inspirations – though I’ve glossed over it here, they’ve clearly been influenced just as strongly by their American contemporaries Make Do And Mend, Title Fight and Balance & Composure, and they prefer to cite acts like Jets To Brazil and Lifetime in interviews – but the similarities to those bands of yesteryear are uncanny at times.
Still, similar though they are, Basement never fall prey to mere aping – Colourmeinkindness may effectively replicate a moment in time, but the compositions which serve as its building blocks are distinctly the band’s own. Fisher’s voice is perfectly matched to his outfit’s sound, with a soaring range that, when cranked to appropriate volume, disintegrates into a ferocious (yet tuneful) gargle.The songs are catchy, with big hooks that are amplified by big guitar noise. Most of all, there’s a sincerity, a personal-ness, which can’t be faked that pervades each of the album’s ten tracks. Fisher isn’t repeating others’ stories; he’s finding threads of common experience with which to craft his own, and telling them using the language of the ancients.
I retained my passport to the Alternative Nation for a little longer than was cool – I’ll still vouch for, say, Live’s The Distance To Here or Fuel’s Sunburn, though that might be PA pride speaking as much as anything else – but somewhere around Woodstock ‘99, alt-rock became this weird, calcified, ugly thing, a lingering sound that seemed to carry no memory of its own meaning, a zombie whose only true tie to the living being that came before was the body they shared in common. Those who remained fans were pretty much either in-for-life or out-for-good; I was the latter. And so for me, as someone who still loves those early 90’s albums; who has happily moved on to newer and awesome(er?) things but still misses, a little bit, when that sound meant something; who has no stomach for the grotesque iterations of alt-rock that persist today; for me, it’s been a revelation to put on an album recorded by kids in 2012 and to not just hear 1992, but to be moved in the same way I still am when I listen to Bleach or Vs. or Superfuzz Bigmuff.
To hear those sounds, to feel them, without the distortion field of nostalgic memory warping my view, as it must with anything that actually dates to my adolescence, is far beyond anything I would have expected this year. Colourmeinkindness would have been an album I enjoyed greatly in any of the last twenty years. But in 2012, it becomes more than that – it becomes an album I’m genuinely thankful for.