Somewhere Dave Grohl is smiling; he has frequently opined the fact that rock and roll are no longer kids picking up instruments and heading to the garage to figure it out. Instead, American Idol and its ilk pick winners and losers in the world of popular music, and what a surprise the record industry is in the toilet. The Colourflies took Grohl’s advice to heart picked up their instruments and headed for the garage. They played and were shambolic, then played some more and improved, and they continued to play until one day they got signed to an indie label and put out their debut album. That debut is the December 14th release, Been There, Seen It, Lived It, Licensed It. It is an engaging debut with tremendous organic charm. If you were seeking some hope for the future of rock in a world awash with hyped autotuned cookie cutter songs, you might want to give this album a whirl.
The Colourflies were formed in 2010 by four very young guys in Boise, Idaho. They were located just over the state border from where the sounds and rock scene of the Pacific Northwest were made famous. The band’s influences range from the likes of The Posies, Dishwalla, The Lemonheads and the Meat Puppets. They were deeply influenced by the sounds of ’80s and 90’s Alternative. Indie labels like SST, Twin Tone and Sub Pop left a definite mark on the band as they absorbed all those subversive tendencies and made them their own.
The Colourflies have earned their stripes playing in every poorly named dive in and around Idaho and Washington State. They notable became one of the regular bands for the influential Spokane, Washington club The Hop. The band of childhood friends is comprised of singer and songwriter Matt Legard, Quest Johnson lead guitar, Sanger on bass/guitar and Devin Koshney on drums.
Been There, Seen It, Lived It, Licensed It was recorded with Jared Crab in Crabwalk Studios, along with Kaleb W. at Amplified Wax. Overdubs and mastering were done by Weston Fink at Flannel Fox Studios. The Songs “Talithia De Flavor and Capricious” were produced by Adam Anderson and the song Jerkass was recorded with Logan McCarthy at his secret studios. What jumps out about Been There, Seen It, Lived It, Licensed It is that the influences are easily recognizable; however The Colourflies are remarkably adept at making the influences their own. The release starts off with Jerkass a slacker punk tune containing a solid thrashing rock sound. There is intensity and energy galore with a neo-garage cacophony that has always had a home in the Northwestern Pacific sound. The sum is greater than any one part on the song. The much-imitated “Lo-Fi” sound production used by all and sundry, is truly organic and not manufactured on this album; only adding to the authenticity of the band’s sound footprint.
Wacky Tacky is this fantastic combination of grunge and strangely dashes of The Cure and that is not a bad thing. There are hints of psychedelic and Goth with a huge helping of early Modest Mouse tossed in for good measure. Rugrat is a song that has been in development for a while and has come along nicely since its origination. There is a great noisy opening and then thrash out to a Sonic Youth vibe. The shapeshift that occurs midway through the track makes it even more interesting. This song is evidence that the lads have digested their Alternative rock history well. Just when you think you know what is coming up next the band serves up Scharlie’s Kiss which is a slower paced yearning track. The acoustic guitar is a nice change up and the song has a great chill vibe as it examines the insecurities of teenage love. Take notice to the hypnotic and hazy vocal.
Bat Face again mixes it up with a jangle-rock intro. The song is catchy and filled with energy and enthusiasm; it is a great exemplar of garage rock and had awesome drums and a noteworthy guitar solo. Jurassic Park! is my favourite track, full of wholesome Pacific Northwest goodness. The gritty feel of the song puts the grunge in neo-grunge and reminds me of Modest Mouse’s “Dramamine”. It instantly hooks you and makes you take it home to keep. The vocal treatment on this song is well done. Super Sucker is an immense song that is both audacious and thrill-seeking, a perfect concoction of irony and whimsy. Close your eyes and you can hear the band channelling Weezer and the Pixies as they have the later band’s quiet/loud technique down pat. This is a heavy track that takes a licking and keeps on ticking; highly addictive.
2% takes its cues from Nirvana with a smoking song that is filled with distorted vocals and gritty guitars, yet makes you want to jump around the club. Rock Candy is a glorious amalgam of trippy goodness and glam grunge. The oscillating wha wah guitar provides a funky accompaniment. Talithia De Flavor is not the name of a diva queen or maybe it is, but is the most experimental track with its use of sampling snippets that are quite reminiscent of Beck’s early stylings and then it twists into an explosion of punk neo-grunge goodness. It has to be listened to fully appreciate. Advacado had the feel of the afterglow when the club closes. The off-kilter track is hazy and swirling.
The final song, Capricious displays that the band can play it any way they want. This track upturns all the intensity and irony found throughout the album with an acoustic guitar, heartfelt vocals and an ethereal soaring treatment. It is a great way to usher out the release.
Been There, Seen It, Lived It, Licensed It is an exciting release and should provide comfort to people who think the best days of the Rock genre are over. The band is tenacious and has already come a long way in their quest for a spot in the world of Rock Music. They know they have to pay their dues and put forth the immense effort necessary to have a career in music today. They exhibit the necessary “can do” attitude they are going to need. The Colourflies have all the raw materials to succeed even if they are still at times a bit rough around the edges. As a debut effort, I give them a 7/10. Nicely done lads.