BEST NEW TRACKS: COLOR FILM - SMALL TOWN
Glassjaw’s Daryl Palumbo Details Small Town Life, As Color Film, In Glorious Technicolor In “Small Town”!
“Small Town Life” in North America is becoming increasingly difficult to define, either being ignored out of existence or else romanticized out of recognition, via photoshopped country artists, Pinterest boards, and dramatic films like Jake Schrier’s Paper Towns. Glassjaw’s Daryl Palumbo and Men, Women, And Children’s Richard Penzone are zooming in on life in sleepy small hamlets, with “Small Town,” the newest single from their new collaborative project, Color Film.
COLOR FILM - SMALL TOWN
Getting people to tune into politics, via Indie Rock/Pop, is harder than it sounds. Po-faced punk rockers have a tendency to package their poltical polemics in drab, monochromatic imagery and shouty slogans, pretty much fated to be ignored by all that aren’t already converts. This trend can be seen, in earnest, in much of the arty late ‘70s/early ‘80s arty post-punk. For every The Clash or Joy Division, Talking Heads or Echo & The Bunnymen, able to blend the working class struggle with populist hooks and infectious beats, there are legions of Subway Sects - oh-so-serious stripped back punk delivered by oh-so-pale men, usually, in mackintoshes (or Trench Coats, for the Americans), destined to be delivered in poorly-attended basement shows (we know, we know, Subway Sect were actually rather popular. We at We Are: The Guard are music historians and musicologists, but bear with us as we get to a point). This earnestness did much to derail the original post-punk movement, which split into the dualistic dichotomies of the poppier New Wave, New Romantics, and the futuristic thrills of synth pop, on one trajectory, or the maudlin melancholy of Goth and all of its black clad children.
On “Small Town,” Color Film are setting the record straight, with just the right balance of sharp, acerbic guitars, that would leave Andy Summers and Bernard Sumner alike jealous, with banging, clanging polyrhthmic beats and bright, bold funky basslines. “Small Town” is essentially classic Pop-ulist dance punk, updated with modern Future Funk production, but it’s much more wonderful than that might sound. First of all, the hybridization is an exercise in good genre husbandry, inheriting the strengths of each parents and sloughing off the shortcomings. Both post-punk and Future Funk have a tendency to be too sharp and brittle - being about as enjoyable as a trip to the dentist, sans laughing gas. While Future Funk, entirely sourced from glassy synths and DSP chips, are as soothing and organic as a spa day at a garbage heap on Long Island. Aren’t we uncomfortable enough, living in late-stage capitalism, without our listening habits emphasizing the point?
Punk’s attempts at going Pop or Experimental suffer from many of the same shortcomings. Seeing spiky-haired musicians try to staple bright synth melodies on top of angsty lyrics and buzzsaw chord progressions can be as painful as the daily privations they’re trying to satirize. Thanks-be to the Gods of rock that Color Film are no dabblers or bandwagon hoppers, having a firm grasp on digital production and non-rock songwriting, as can be heard in the misty, cacophonous breakdown coming in @ 2:15, with middle eastern modalities and glassy harmonics, before raging back into the catchy-but-pertinent chorus “Any given Saturday/I can’t tell what’s real/In a small town.”
Here in the States, where We Are: The Guard are based, this lack of understanding and representation of “Small Town Life” is causing many of the societal woes that are setting our cities on fire. Increasing swathes of the population feel unheard, misunderstood, and powerless. Granted, that’s how most minorities in the United States have felt the whole time, but we’re not comparing hardships. We need even, fair-minded, and constructive conversations between EVERY demographic in this country, to foster real conversation and understanding, and break the chain of violence.
Color Film are doing the good work, with “Small Town,” but you won’t even realize you’re doing good activism, as you sweat, sway, and shimmy to this shimmering new single!
“Small Town” is the newest single off of Living Arrangements, out now on Epitaph Records!
J. Simpson occupies the intersection between criticism, creativity, and academia. Based out of Portland, Or., he is the author of Forestpunk, an online journal/brand studying the traces of horror, supernatural, and the occult through music, fashion and culture. He plays in the dreamfolk band Meta-Pinnacle with his partner Lily H. Valentine, with whom he also co-founded Bitstar Productions, a visual arts collective focused on elevating Pop Culture to High Art.