THE RED, PINKS AND PURPLES
Glenn Donadlson first came into my purview through the hazy psychedelic smear of Skygreen Leopards but he mines a different nostalgic vein with the Reds, Pinks and Purples - one where 80s indie misanthropes the Chameleons rein over the affairs of the despondent. “The Biggest Fan” must be him. He dares, “name three songs by them.” He nails Mark Burgess’ longing with the yelp smoothed out for consumption by fans of the Clientele and the National and maybe if their star chart allows, a Radiohead listener. The guitars shimmer and roll like he's a graduate of the Johnny Marr Correspondence School of Accompaniment and all the cracks are caulked up in Roland synths and muted drum machines. It is beautiful and perfect.
It is easy to rehash the 80/90s. Asymmetric cuts. Neon. It’s a cottage industry with presets, filters and an eager demographic that, like true Reagan era sucklings, cannot be overserved. What is difficult is to get it right - to land on that feeling we (meaning “us” and not all “them”) all felt that no one feels like us. “A Kick in the Face (That’s Life)” is a prime example. “When the sun goes down/could you make it shine” is what I think he says - he’s mumbling to that one girl who also never exactly hears him. Makes you want to smoke a cigarette on a bridge.
The Bandcamp notes note that the tenor of the project speaks to the permagloom of Donaldson’s San Francisco and sure, it does, but “The Record Player and the Damage Done” resonantes with the face in the trainside window in Whatevershire or the needlessly bummer teen in sunny Spain or the only kid on the moon. It’s a brief eruption of the chilled magma within. “Pictures of the World” is one of the longer tunes at 3:11, long enough for his to drag out that VU-ish lick to cover this whole stupid town and all the popular people anyway. The exquisite misery of “Life at Parties”, the Felt-like weak threat of “Don’t Ever Pray in the Church on My Street” where “everything comes when the panic grips you.” I bet his record collection is exquisite, and I’m glad it spilled out over his reverb pedal and bedroom floor and out the window into the gloomy air.
The Reds, Pink and Purples on Bandcamp
Alex V. Cook listens to everything and writes about most of it. His latest book, the snappily titled Louisiana Saturday Night: Looking for a Good Time in South Louisiana's Juke Joints, Honky-Tonks, and Dance Halls is an odyssey from the backwoods bars and small-town dives to the swampside dance halls and converted clapboard barns of a Louisiana Saturday Night. Don't leave Heathrow without it. His first book Darkness Racket and Twang is available from SideCartel. The full effect can be had at alex v cook.com
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