Colour Revolt

The Cradle

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It's not that unusual for an indie band to get signed to a major label only to be dropped when its record fails to sell, but Colour Revolt's troubles were a bit more complicated. The Mississippi combo's debut EP was picked up for release by Interscope in 2006, but they soon severed ties with the band; Colour Revolt then signed to Fat Possum Records, only to have the cool indie label drop them as well after 2008's Plunder, Beg and Curse didn't live up to expectations. Adding insult to injury, three of Colour Revolt's five members opted to quit, and with just a few weeks to spare, Jesse Coppenbarger (lead vocals and guitar) and Sean Kirkpatrick (lead guitar and vocals) recruited a drummer (Daniel Davison) and a keyboard player (Brooks Tipton), asked their producer to do double duty as bassist (Hank Sullivant), and rolled into the studio to record their second full-length album. And given the circumstances behind its creation, it's little short of miraculous that The Cradle is so strong and cohesive; these ten songs combine the scrappy energy and nerve of a rock band that's spent a few years barnstorming tiny clubs with the grand-scale ambitions and sonic grandeur of art rock. Coppenbarger's vocals can shift from a gentle falsetto to a full-on bellow at will, and his guitar interplay with Kirkpatrick follows a similar formula, with plenty of bark and just the right degree of filigree. The makeshift band that backs them handles the material beautifully; the bandmembers are clearly talented enough to bring both skill and imagination to the performances, and they clearly didn't have the time to overthink the material, so the melodies sound fresh and naturalistic even at their most elaborate. And the songs make it clear that the group's confidence was well justified; Coppenbarger and Kirkpatrick sure know how to tell a story, and from the ragged-out road tales in "8 Years" to the ill-starred drifters of "Reno," they paint taut and memorable little portraits in words, and the melodies fit them beautifully, be they dark, sweet, or thunderous. Colour Revolt have gone through a string of bad luck that would cause many reasonable people to throw in the towel, and instead they've created the strongest and most accomplished work of their career; you usually don't hear stories like this outside of bad TV movies these days, but at least from a creative standpoint this band has pulled off the come-from-behind victory of the year.

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