Colossal - Colossal (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


Colossal (2003)

Asian Man

Say hello to another band of Slapstick family lineage. Long-time-no-see Rob Kellenberger returns to the drum set backing yet another different style band: Colossal, a quartet that sports traits reminiscent of American Football, with their clean arpeggiated guitars and the occasional trumpet lick. If you liked AF, there is a good chance you will like Colossal and if you didn't like AF, well… you may still like Colossal anyways because in some ways these guys are even better.

I guess I should describe Colossal's sound a bit for the rest of you. There is not a single note of distorted guitar on this EP, yet this does not stop them from varying dynamics and rocking out nicely. Delicate, intricately woven guitar lines often become vigorously strummed chords with drums moving to the forefront by riding on the crash. Pat Ford, with his smooth voice often in the bass range, adds to the mellow feeling, yet Rob lays beats underneath that force you to nod your head.

It becomes apparent shortly into the first track, "Human Jackson," that Colossal's lyrics are more than the "woops, maybe this song should have words…" lyrics of American Football. While the lyrics are more constant, that doesn't mean there are overly poppy sing-along choruses here. There are some great melodies nonetheless and lyrics that make me wish they were included in the booklet (actually, I found them later on the band's website). Also, three minutes into the song is the first taste of trumpet when Jason Flaks puts his guitar aside and belts out a simple sustained jazz line over the changing meters, with a good tone and even some vibrato.

"Embers Only," my favorite track on the EP starts with a driving pulse that settles into a groove as the trumpet enters, with a deceptively easy-sounding line consisting of jumps and syncopated rhythms- a line that returns throughout the track. The vocals are so low that most of us would have a hard time singing along, but after the second verse, they burst into Braid style scream-singing by a couple of the guys in unison repeating the line "Trust we'll defy time and the posture you define." It then settles back down and fades into atmospheric guitar for the outro. "Plateau Song" is one of the places where Ford hands off the vocals to another member, a quality that lends even more diversity from song to song, because this guy (not sure which one) has a higher, more edgy character to his voice.

The EP reaches a feverish peak in the last track "Brave the Elements" at 2 ½ minutes in, when the drums break out into pounding sixteenth-note snare fills underneath the sixteenths of "If you cover one eye / you cover one eye / you cover one eye / you'll never forget this" leading to the highest note Ford sings on the whole disc sustaining "riding home / I will arrive," a powerful end to a solid disc. At 6 tracks with 25 minutes of high-quality indie rock in the vein of a more upbeat American Football, this is definitely worthy of your consideration.