Duochrome – Suburban Cablevision

Duochrome
Suburban Cablevision

This CD was originally supposed to have been released in the fall of 1995 as a double 7″ on DaDa Records. Unfortunately, the label failed to pay their bills, and the final masters of the songs were lost. After several years of requests for the songs by Duochrome fans, Vital Cog and the band sat down with the test pressings and did some re-mastering to release it as a CD.
Duochrome in 2001, getting ready to release their next CD, are a New Jersey indie rock band with precise production, a crisp, guitar-driven sound that verges on emo and post-hardcore but remains suitably in the indie rock category. Duochrome in 1995 were much more of a mid-90’s “alternative” band. They used layers of thick guitars for a louder, noisier sound as was popular at the time. And this release shows the band trying several different styles, mixing the noisy with the more playful.
“Cold Cube Racer” starts off and shows the diminished production values of the song, but behind a thick, distorted blast of guitar with surprisingly clear vocals, this is still a good rock song. It contrasts with “Car Culture,” a quieter and almost bouncy folk song that’s mostly just vocals and a single electric guitar. “Astrogurl” shows off a more indie-pop side of things, with the lead singer almost crooning and not quite pulling it off, and “Huevos Ventura” tries a kind of echoey, spaghetti western meets surf-rock movie music kind of thing, that’s actually pretty fun.
“Maggot Wrapper” is a blast of furious energy, with wailing, distorted layers of guitar and vocals that go from sung quietly to almost screamed. Yeah, this is cool stuff, very early Sonic Youth meets Pixies. Things slow down on “Wyoming,” and “Pumpkinhead” takes a noisy, chaotic approach with a kind of silly lyrical thing going on. “Keep On (Keepin’ On)” has the band trying to get all bluesy and soulful. Try is the key word. This was probably a fun song to play, but it isn’t the band at their best, that’s for sure. Finally there’s a hidden track that may or may not be a new song. It has a more precise and strong guitar sound, but the vocals are very odd in a Pavement-esque sort of way. By the end, this one is a mess of noise and terrible vocals.
This is another release that is really intended for die-hard Duochrome fans, really. If you haven’t heard of them, I encourage you to pick up their latest album, Tactical Knives, first. That one shows off their more polished and precise sound. On this CD and their earlier 7-inches, which were recently re-released by Vital Cog, you get a band developing their sound amidst a noisy, guitar-driven structure. Still good stuff, but dated.