In Memory Of Mark Erickson: This Album Wants To Sleep With You Tonight

 

(Editor’s Note: This past weekend Phoenix lost an amazing artist in the death of Mark Erickson. His band, Colorstore, was the first local band in Phoenix that I wrote about in the pages of JAVA magazine. If it wasn’t for Erickson hand delivering BONEfish: The Legend of Mahogany Cass to my door one Saturday afternoon in February 2008, I would not have known about the amazing music scene I have watched develop over the last four years. The moment Erickson handed that album to me, though I didn’t know it at the time, he changed my life forever. I have more to say about Erickson, but I  will save that for another day, when I am over the shock of his passing. For today, I pull from the archives the original review I wrote for that amazing album from the March 2008 issue of JAVA Magazine. Thank you Mark, for changing my world, you will be greatly missed.)

Colorstore presents BONEfish: The Legend Of Mahogany Cass
This Album Wants To Sleep With You Tonight

There’s something brilliant and beautiful about the moment a band steps into it’s own, the moment, the song, the album that a band becomes itself and find its own voice. For the music lover this is the moment of truth, when the artist leaves the safe haven of hiding behind its influences and emerges as who they truly are. The moment is obvious and awe inspiring, think Radiohead and OK Computer or Spoon with Girls Can Tell. In this case it’s BONEfish: The Legend Of Mahogany Cass by Phoenix’ very own Colorstore. Even this writer has tried to deny it, tried to convince himself it was exaggeration, but the truth is, the album is a pop masterpiece and it is the sound of Colorstore becoming who they were meant to be.

 “Yes, absolutely yes,” said Mark Erickson, Colorstore’s singer, songwriter and madman. “Without tooting our bands stinky horns, I do believe we have creatively and musically stepped very much into our own. It’s a good feeling and I’m very proud of what every single person involved in making this record brought to the table.” Erickson should be proud, the album sets an atmosphere that is at once moody and reflective, while explosive and jovial. It is as he himself said, “Inconsistently consistent” and delightfully so. From ukulele to bells and synthesizers and even a three piece horn section the album delights and surprises the ears with this organic and amazing blend of lyrical reverie and brilliant instrumentation where a sense of Americana meets pure Indie pop.

While Colorstores debut When We Float The River was pretty impressive in it self, in light of their current record, all the thick layers of Radiohead influenced ephemera and shoegazing soundscapes can barely hold a candle to the genius behind BONEfish. This is an album that should earn national attention, if for no other reason than it’s originality alone, its lack of influence, its hint of influence and a beatific sense of confluence that makes it one of the best releases of the year so far, local or otherwise. It’s appeal is immediate, bright and shining, but best of all the hooks found herein stay with you for days and dare you to remove it from your player, though you just won’t be able to bring yourself to do so.

BONEfish is a very different affair from it’s predecessor, recorded in just ten days which is a striking contrast to the two years they took to meticulously put together their debut, this alone may have had a large affect on their change of sound—a change which is inspired and was indeed deliberate. “I felt that it was definitely time for some change in the direction of Colorstore,” Erickson commented, “Musically [BONEfish is] more of a collaboration between all four members this time around.  Lyrically, I had gone through some fairly big changes in my personal life, which probably led way to a much more honest and raw sound.” Those four members, the key ingredients for this incredible record are Mark Erickson, vocals, utility player; Robin Vining, utility player, vocals; David Marquez, bass, strings, vocals and Jef Wright, drums and vocals.

The album opens with the short and catchy “Moosh”, a simple piano line, hand claps, and some synthesizer swirl, the spare arrangement is striking and the heartfelt lyrics literally bleed love from the speakers. “Treasure Sticks The Mammal” follows with more talk of love and some of the most musical fun to be found on the album, keys and guitar combine tightly wound around Erickson’s quirky, quivering vocals and an ascending guitar line that kicks in which automatically makes you grin as the feeling of joy spreads throughout your entire nervous system. The single-worthy “A Song About…” follows, at which point it becomes apparent that the genius the first two songs hinted at is no fluke and that simply put it will be spread throughout the album liberally.  It’s all in the details here and one of the most charming moments of the entire album is Erickson’s stuttering to say “s-st-s-straight line”.  It’s those perfections in the little seconds that make the entire work an outstanding accomplishment. “Death of Mr. Cass” is little more than fun with tape recorded sounds, yet somehow, such unintelligible frivolity doesn’t seem out of place.

“MonkeyDo Does” begins with a lazy loping surf guitar over a simple rhythm and hypnotic vocals, before the horns kick in and take the album up yet another notch. In a perfect world this to would be a single which would inspire a strange swaying dance to match it’s swinging mood. “My Name Is B” follows and stands out as perhaps the prettiest song of the album, a sweet ballad drenched in true loves reflection and the longing to hold on to that love for all it’s worth. “Mr. Julio Mena Is A Menace” has Erickson’s vocals at their most nervous and taught, brilliant Spanish horn and a point where the song breaks into utter multi-instrumental cacophony with brilliant results. “La Da” titled after the swooning simple chorus, features some of the most adventurous guitar work on the album and holds true to Erickson’s description of “Inconsistently Consistent.” One you’ll find humming to yourself and wondering what the hell you’re singing to yourself, walking down the street mumbling, “Everyone is so believable.”

“Milk” starts off sounding like one of the great lost stoned experiments from the Beach Boys circa 1967, non verbal vocal rounds and random percussion, it sounds somehow like it was recorded on the kitchen floor, before it kicks into one of the darkest most guitar driven songs on the entire album. “Supper At the Cass Residence” is another strange audio experiment, an odd, barely intelligible conversation that somehow fits perfectly in the lineup right before the finale. “Kahitchigo Wins The World” is a horn-drenched lullaby that closes BONEfish with perfection and grace, haunting harmonies fading in and out of the background. “Understanding is winning,” the song says and truer words couldn’t be spoken. Anyone that gives forty minutes of their life to sit, listen and understand this album, automatically wins. Besides you’ll only want to play it again and again, once you’ve played it once.

What does it all mean though? Who is Mahogany Cass and what of this BONEfish? Erickson did shine a strange light on just what the meaning of the title was as well. “Very late night driving on our last tour took our imaginations into very nonsensical places,” he explained, “Mahogany was hitch hiking one night in Northern Oregon and we happened to be the unlucky gentlemen who gave her a ride to her next town, her next conquest. What I can make out of it is that BONEFISH must be some supposed god of some sort. With Mahogany Cass obtaining the ability to harvest the mighty power that is BONEFISH to serve her own twisted and sorted agenda. That’s all I can really say, I don’t like talking about Ms. Cass too much. She upsets me.”

Whether Ms. Cass exists or not, or is merely an imagined inspiring muse in the minds of the members of Colorstore, we have much to thank her for, much to be grateful for, because this album is a work of raw ingenuity, this album is immediate, present and perfect, this album can do no wrong in your collection, in your player, in your car or in your mind, this album should elevate Colorstore to a new level, this album is fun, authentic and heartfelt, this album is what albums should be but rarely are, this album is for everyone who loves music for the way it makes your soul sway, and this album wants to sleep with you tonight.

Listen to or purchase BONEfish: The  Legend of Mahogany Cass Here

Read the review of their last album Afire Here

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