Wrap Your Ears Around (The Sounds of) Kaleidoscope
To describe local quintet (The Sounds of) Kaleidoscope as a psych-pop band would be fairly accurate, but not entirely. Psychedelic? Yes. But retro? No. Pop? Yes. But simple? Not at all.
The band, which concocts a heady mix of swirling guitars, pristine melodies and bursts of noise, will celebrate the release of its long-in-the-works album, "From Where You Were to How You Got There," with a show on the Black Cat's main stage tonight. Kaleidoscope's live performances are consistently excellent, especially since the group -- featuring core members Damien Taylor (vocals-guitar), Douglas Bailey (bass) and Alex Hacker (drums) -- fleshed out its sound by adding guitarist Michael Hirst and keyboard player Brian Kalkbrenner over the past couple of years. But as solid as they are live (which has led to opening spots for heavyweights such as the Fall and J Mascis), it's on record where the band really shines.
"There are certain things you can only do live and there are certain things you can only do on an album," Taylor said during a phone conversation earlier this week. "A lot of bands don't focus on the recorded medium as a lasting medium. It sounds just like it does live, except there's no energy to feed off of."
Sure enough, "From Where You Were" can be a pretty trippy listen. But it's certainly not all about experimentation. "We're just as likely to write a pop song as a sound collage," Taylor says, and he's not lying. "Funny Cigarette," from the new album, brings to mind two of The Beatles' best singles, "Paperback Writer" and "I Feel Fine," while at the same time sounding quite of the 21st century. The majority of the album, in fact, consists of rather sprightly, upbeat numbers, and is one of the best albums to emerge from Washington in the past few years.
And they are ready to do it all again. Laboring over the recording, mixing and producing of the album over the past couple years hasn't stopped them from working on new material. Taylor is excited to finally make this record available, but sounds just as excited about the prospect of working on the new one.
"Oh, I'm ready to do it again," he says. "I love [the songs from the album], but it's like, 'Check these out, I've got 20 more!'" If they're as good as the dozen on "From Where You Were," we'll be in for another treat.
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