Color Tongue- 3 Times the Thunder

by | Sep 30, 2022 | Reviews

Color Tongue (via Instagram)


Do you ever wonder what it feels like right after waking up from inside a cartoon, only to find you’re still lucid dreaming, eating a banana yogurt and wearing a top hat? Brooklyn’s most innovative psych-rock indie dream poppers, Color Tongue, are back with a new twist, having released a trilogy of singles (one each week leading up their recent performance on the Bands do BK book release festival at Our Wicked Lady). The quartet, made up of George Miata (guitar, vocals), Eddie Kuspiel (bass, synth, vocals), Ray McGale (synth, piano, vocals), and Kevin Urvalek (drums), is no stranger to the weird and trippy and are one of the tightest bands musically you’re likely to find in NYC.


Maybe it’s because Kuspiel and Miata have been writing music together since before they even had hair on their color tongues, or maybe because until recently they lived together in what’s been called a “busy apartment with twice as many paintings on the walls than windows,” or maybe it’s just because these longtime friends enjoy spending time with each other making sounds. Whatever the reason, they are a really good band. They can write a batch of great songs and know how to really perform them live.


Maybe that’s also why I’ve long considered Color Tongue one of the punkest bands in NYC. Over the last seven years or so since I met these guys, I’ve marveled at the way they’ve executed their unique sonic infusion. More Flaming Lips than Fugazi, more Animal Collective than Anti-Flag, if you dig into their discography, they paint beautiful soundscapes that evoke swashes of reverb-drenched colors that seep into the cracks of your mind responsible for cranking up your serotonin and dopamine levels.


But in the same breath I’ve seen them rip through a dingy DIY basement show set with a guitar growl onslaught and pummeling pace that’s kept up with some of this city’s fastest, loudest, and heaviest bands. The point is Color Tongue has always done things their way, they have fun doing it, and it shows.


So instead of dropping a classic EP, as they have in the past, this time around they decided to release a new single each week leading up to the big rooftop show.


First came “Good Science” which feels like a pleasant two and half minute jog warming up to what was to come. Urvalek skillfully holds back the drums for the entire song, allowing the synth and bass lines to swell, stretch and contract over the soft quick constant rhythm of the arpeggiated guitar. The song feels much like the morning after the rain storms have washed away all the dirt and grime, and everything feels fresh and everything seems possible. There’s comfort in Kuspiel’s vocal as Miata delivers the hook, “I’m not alone. Take me somewhere I know. It’d be nice to see anywhere. I’m not alone” and stretches out like taffy over gooey synthesizer.


Color Tongue Good Science

“Good Science” (photo by Dave Lucas)


Next, “Little Gray Cloud,” takes us back into “stormy weather.” Quicker and more ominous in tone, Kuspiel delivers the vocal inflection with slightly desperate urgency.
“I hope the the words that leave your mouth are good and they are well thought out. And you can sleep without losing a wink.” The real magic is the way they are able to break that tension and pull it back with periodic breaths of soothing melody. Devil’s chord be damned, this band knows how to stack layers of rhythmic harmony turning black licorice into sugar gumdrops. The dark sugar fuzz builds and piles on washy guitars with teeth until it crescendos in one of the most satisfying movements in the entire series.


“Little Grey Cloud” (art by Winnie Third Culture Chinese)


The final single “Berries,” however, which dropped the day before the big show, plays like a preschool song for children except all the kids are on drugs. For almost four minutes we are lulled into the naptime trip allowing the bass and drums to shuffle us through easy lope of gentle tones. But, just before the four minute mark, Urvalek kicks the track up a few levels as McGale, Miata, and Kuspiel pile on top of the beat. It’s all hands on deck here, with the heavy lifting by McGale and Kuspiel’s musical bedrock for Miata to rip in with the wild guitar lead. Everything in that moment was designed to payout in triumph ending in satisfyingly haunting multi-tiered vocal harmony and goosebumps in true Color Tongue fashion. The band knows how to deliver on an idea and how to roll out a concept. So when they take the time to make some noise, it’s best to stop and pay attention.


Color Tongue Berries

“Berries” (collage art of dogs submitted by fans of the band)


Additional author’s note: for fans of the band’s beloved pooch, Thunder, Ray McGale has made a super cool “Berries Game” you can play thru Instagram filters that’s definitely NOT a bad way to waste your time while listening to the new Color Tongue songs which you can take a listen to below:


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