The right concoction of psychedelic rock can make a listener see all sorts of colors. So say the members of Oklahoma's Colourmusic. The crafty quartet from Stillwell creates music in a very unique way, by envisioning its vivid indie-pop as a rainbow of different sights and sounds. "Color is essentially our producer," explains Colourmusic co-founder, singer and guitarist Ryan Hendrix. "That's really what the color theory is about to us. It gives us a direction of where we're trying to go. Colors have an emotional quality to them. When you look at certain colors, it makes you feel a certain way. We take a color and say, how do we express the emotional state of this color in music?"
If one were to wonder what orange sounds like, just pop in the band's full-length debut, f, monday, orange, february, venus, lunatic, 1 or 13 (a combination of the quartet's Red and Yellow EPs, released last September in a bright orange jacket). The group says it uses Isaac Newton's color theories (experimenting with the emotions between color and sound) to write warm, loud, lush, energetic rock music, filtering a kaleidoscope of hippie and British new-wave influences, and polishing it to a blinding glow in the studio.
"We want to make records that don't sound like anybody else," says Hendrix. "I don't think we necessarily succeeded on our first record with this sort of color esthetic, but it opened us up."
The album does succeed in making explosive power-pop of all shades - from the Raspberries-style mod rocker "Motherfather" to the multi-chromatic, Flaming Lips-like "Put in a Little Gas." On stage, every tune is a warm and fuzzy sing-along that sees as much as it sings.
"It's a really cathartic, liberating experience for us live," says Hendrix, noting the band is still wearing all white on stage. "The show is just so explosive and physical - there are no bounds." Along with Sik Sik Nation and Cherry Flavored Elevator, the band opens for the Plastic Hearts at 8 p.m. at the Grog Shop (2785 Euclid Heights Blvd., 216.321.5588). Tickets: $6. - Keith Gribbins
Wednesday, Jan. 14
After paying tribute to the legendary Bill Evans on last year's Something of You, Brazilian-born pianist and singer Eliane Elias returns to her roots to celebrate 50 years of bossa nova on Bossa Nova Stories in great company. Her guitarist, Oscar Castro-Neves, was one of the original creative forces who helped shape that musical revolution in the late '50s, along with others like Antonio Carlos Jobim and Jo-o Gilberto. Elias' husband, bassist Marc Johnson, and drummer Paulo Braga, who accompany her on classics like "The Girl From Ipanema," "Falsa Baiana" and "Desafinado," round out the ensemble. Elias doesn't only revisit the old classics, though - she also gives a Brazilian vibe to Gershwin's "They Can't Take Away From Me" and the 1966 Chris Montez hit "The More I See You" with great style. Other highlights include "I'm Not Alone," a duet with the tune's co-author Ivan Lins, and Stevie Wonder's "Superwoman," which features legendary harmonica player Toots Thielemans, who has a lifelong love affair with the music of Brazil. In the midst of the large number of bossa reissues and tributes in the past months, this is a welcome addition to the genre's canon, one listeners are sure to revisit on a regular basis. Elias performs at 7 tonight and at 8 p.m. tomorrow at Nighttown (12387 Cedar Rd., 216.795.0550). Tickets: $30. - Ernest Barteldes
Thursday, Jan. 15
Hailed as the new Animal Collective, this Brooklyn buzz band has captured the attention of magazines like Spin and NME and bloggers worldwide. Not bad for an unsigned group that formed just two years ago. A post-punk influence and quick, jumpy choruses populate the songs. They've only released a four-song EP, Golden, that sounds as royal as the title. "Long Lean Queen" combines a circular riff with textured vocals; "Bad Blood" shimmies with twinkling tambourine and the band's catchiest beat; and the title track revolves around an almost twangy guitar that curls around accessible percussion and unsteady, skittery bass thumping. It's all vibrant stuff that stimulates the senses and catches the raw rebellion that rock is all about. Openers Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson (another Brooklyn sensation that got some help recording his latest album from Grizzly Bear's Chris Taylor) and local pop act Sammy Slims open at 8 p.m. at the Grog Shop (2785 Euclid Heights Blvd., 216.321.5588). Tickets: $7. - Danielle Sills
Friday, Jan. 16
At 66 years of age, keyboardist Leon Russell, best known for hits like "Tightrope" and "Lady Blue," continues to tour and record regularly. His longtime friendship with Willie Nelson has generated several collaborations (he participated in Nelson's very first 4th of July picnic decades ago) over the years. For his visit to Cleveland, he'll be backed by his longtime band, which includes bassist Jackie Wessel (who has been with Russell for more than 20 years), guitarist Chris Simmons, keyboardist Brian Lee and drummer Brandon Holder. Oliver Buck and the New Madrids open at 8 p.m. at the Beachland Ballroom (15711 Waterloo Rd., 216.383.1124). Tickets: $26 advance, $28 day of show. - Barteldes
Saturday, Jan. 17
Some bands put on outrageous costumes and romp around stage, making a scene to get noticed. Others forget to bring an ounce of excitement to a live show, sending concertgoers home with a big fat yawn and heavy eyes. Cursive does neither. The Omaha-based band knows the right way to garner attention - pure, unfiltered emotion. Frontman Tim Kasher (also of the Good Life) channels his energy into singing with more heart than you get in all 98 minutes of WALL-E. He's supported by an all-star cast that'll soon release an album on Saddle Creek Records. Cursive is calling the tour a time for "rockin', intimate adventures," which will include new songs in addition to fan favorites like "The Recluse" and "Art Is Hard." Cursive meshes soaring horns with moody, melodic guitar and propulsive drumming to surround stories of ugly divorces, religious hypocrisy and crushed dreams. The show starts at 8 p.m. at the Grog Shop (2785 Euclid Heights Blvd., 216.321.5588) with Chicago rockers Lacona, who sound like a toned-down version of the headliners. Tickets: $12 advance, $14 day of show. - Sills
Saturday, Jan. 17
For over a decade, guitars/drums trio the Hi-Risers have been cranking out new music in a pre-Rubber Soul, early-rock/pop vein. The band shares a mindset with modern early-rock throwbacks Los Straitjackets and the Kaisers, even cross-pollinating with members of those bands on various projects. The Hi-Risers' sound encompasses a gamut of late-'50s/early-'60s styles, from rockabilly to British Invasion to surf to Gary Lewis & the Playboys-ish vocal pop. On their latest disc, Once We Get Started, the band takes ownership of the broad mish-mash of styles by infusing the material with a reverent sincerity that's tempered with an acute sense of fun. The eclectic combination of classic genres and the energized warmth of their performances sets them apart from other indie- retro-rock acts. The Party Stompers open at 9 p.m. at the Beachland Tavern (15711 Waterloo Rd., 216.383.1124). Tickets: $10. - Michael David Toth
Saturday, Jan. 17
It takes time for newer genre handles to take hold. Look how long it was before "new weird American(a)" and "post-rock" became lexicon devils. Nashville's Infamous Stringdusters are mos' def a contemporary bluegrass group, but while they embrace the emotive, fast-picking, high-lonesome sound of Flatt & Scruggs and Blue Highway, these Stringdusters further favor flights of instrumental fancy like their jam-y kinfolk Yonder Mountain String Band and Bela Fleck. Like those combos - and those of Tony Rice and John Jorgenson - they're not shy about integrating aspects of jazz (especially improvisation) into the mix. The Infamous Stringdusters have those tight, vividly surging harmonies down, and they keep things sounding fresh by alternating lead singers. As with Flatt & Scruggs in their heyday, inspirations from contemporary country, folk and rock creep in. Unlike some of their jamgrass/acoustica peers, IS has a penchant for solidly good songs, as opposed to springboards for instrumental jizz. Call them whatchawanna, but these Stringdusters are mindful of many traditions and restricted by none. The show starts at 8:30 p.m. at the Beachland Ballroom (15711 Waterloo Rd., 216.383.1124). Tickets: $10 advance, $12 day of show. - Mark Keresman
Saturday, Jan. 17
The syndicated/internet radio warhorse Classic Metal Show celebrates its 13th Anniversary with a vintage-metal show. Headlining is D'Priest, led by singer Nadir D'Priest, who previously fronted Steel Prophet and London, the latter the most infamous also-ran band of '80s glam metal. Featured prominently in the cult-classic documentary The Decline of Western Civilization II: The Metal Years, London was one of the first big bands on the '80s Sunset Strip scene. The group released three albums - the best of which was recently culled into London: The Metal Years - but never scored a major-label deal. Instead, the group was a minor-league sensation that helped future stars learn the game. Over the years, constantly shifting lineups included Motley Crue's Nikki Sixx ("Public Enemy #1" started as a London song), W.A.S.P.'s Blackie Lawless, and Guns N' Roses' Izzy Stradlin and Slash. London called it a day in 1992, but D'Priest keeps the music alive with a set that still looks and sounds like '88. "It's gonna be loud," says D'Priest. "It's gonna be the way that it used to be. We're going to try to morph everybody back to the time. I'm trying to appeal to metal fans of all ages. The young people are going to get a feel for what it was like back in the day." D'Priest, Icarus Witch and the Billy Morris Band start things off at 8 p.m. at the Hi-Fi (11729 Detroit Ave., 216.521.8878). Tickets: $10. - D.X. Ferris
Cradle of Filth
Wednesday, Jan. 21
Listeners unfamiliar with a band might say every song sounds the same, and to a first-timer, they probably do. But a devotee understands the value of subtle changes on a theme. For that reason, an album as utterly lacking in dynamic fluctuations, rhythmic shifts, hooks and catchy choruses as Godspeed on the Devil's Thunder is probably exactly what a Cradle of Filth fan is seeking. If everyone else on earth is repelled, that's fine; indeed, it could be part of the appeal for some. Godspeed suffers from all the usual Cradle weaknesses, starting with Dani Filth's voice, which is so harsh and caustic it makes the listener's throat hurt in sympathy. It kicks off with a faux-orchestral overture that sounds like a Chiller Theater reworking of the theme from Requiem for a Dream. It seems interminable - more than a dozen songs, nearly 78 minutes of music. And it's pretentious beyond belief: A concept album about the life of medieval aristocrat/serial killer Gilles de Rais, it features between-song poetry bits read by Doug "Pinhead from the Hellraiser movies" Bradley. But if you're already a fan, you'll probably love it. Satyricon opens at 8 p.m. at the House of Blues (308 Euclid Ave., 216.523.2583). Tickets: $23 advance, $25 day of show. - Phil Freeman