Speech for Heated Hearts
The Color Guard's sing-along, dark-edged pop proves heavier and more biting on their first full-length album Speech for Heated Hearts than ever before. The songs capture moments of fear, lust, anxiety and fury-tangling the thin lines between seduction and deception, desire and disgust, and balancing utility with beauty-the same ideas that geek-girl-gone-glam singer Lalena once dealt with as a sculptor. Lalena, who also plays guitar, hails from Houston; she left her art-punk band Catbox there to go to art school in New York, where she co-founded The Hissyfits. When she's not crafting songs, she designs characters for kids' animated TV shows. Bass guardian Jeanne Gilliland, who comes from Ann Arbor and works as a boom operator for movies and television, brings a baroque slant into the mix. Drummer Jake Alrich sings opera arias in his spare time, and lead guitarist Nina Kyle rocked her way through stints with Bad Dream House and Creature Did while in Danbury, CT. In performances along the East Coast, The Color Guard have been greeted warmly whether sharing the bill with industrial-goths Holy Cow, or with indie rockers The Reputation. They take listeners off-guard by tossing out a capella vocal harmonies and electronic samples of tea kettles and birds between their soaring melodies and wailing guitar riffs. Their singles "Wreck My Tea" and "Not My Valentine" are played on radio stations across the US, including KUPD's "Red Radio Underground" in Tempe, AZ; WPRB at Princeton; WHRB at Harvard; KVRX of the University of Texas at Austin; Radio K in Minneapolis; and many others. To Entertainment Weekly, The Color Guard are "earnest folkies who've stumbled upon the garage-rock revival;" and to Venus zine they're "the demagogues of digestible metal." It's "music that doesn't compromise and try to fit in," explained the College Times of Tempe, AZ. But everyone seems to agree they possess qualities the Village Voice summed up as "poetic spunk, unselfconsciously inventive songcraft, spiraling melodies." Not surprisingly, each member of this colorful group of thinking eccentrics brings a wide range of influences to the band. Check out their record collections and you'll find Big Black, Kraftwerk, Throwing Muses, Rush, Björk, the Minutemen, Cheap Trick, Kate Bush, Sarah Vaughan, Judy Garland, Cab Calloway, Cocteau Twins, Butthole Surfers, Melvins, Detroit Grand Pubahs, Willie Nelson and madrigal choirs-all kinds of stuff that's taught them that even a band existing within the realm of pop can push the limits. "We're starting with something familiar," Lalena concludes, "then going off on an exploration of what's possible."