Laughing Colors – The Night Electric Died

Laughing Colors
The Night Electric Died

You likely haven’t heard of them, but Laughing Colors have been one of the best bands in Baltimore, Md. for the past several years. Fans in Baltimore, Washington, Virginia and Pennsylvania flocked to their shows, usually in small bars or the smaller concert venues, and those die-hard fans knew every word of the songs. I admit to being one of those die-hards.

While the band’s albums were always good, little beat their live shows. The band would always take their energy from the crowd, boosting their performance significantly when the fans were most into their set. That’s why Laughing Colors has always been able to produce stellar live recordings that add the crowd as a fifth band member.

The band here plays at a Baltimore venue, meaning they’re going to have a strong crowd. And to add a new flare to their music, they adopt their style of hard rock into an acoustic setting, and they play several new, never-before-recorded songs as well. As often happens on a live acoustic album, the production here suffers a bit. In an attempt to make singer Dave Tieff’s vocals stand out, an emphasis is put on his vocals and his acoustic guitar, taking a bit away from the intricate guitar work of Corey Hall. The song choice relies heavily on the band’s newer songs, and some of these don’t transfer into the acoustic setting as well as I would like, yet others are given a completely fresh feel.

“Sense,” from the band’s latest studio recording, starts things off intense and powerful. “Cuz in the end there’s only us,” Tieff sings, changing the vocals and prompting a cheer from the crowd. Then a newer song, “You and I Are,” is more upbeat and poppy, including some backing “whoo-ooo” and amazing guitar. “Sunrise Highway,” another new song, seems made for the more laid-back acoustic setting, with its more mellow as well as melodramatic feel. But I’m guessing “Roll Into the Light,” another new song, doesn’t come across as well acoustic, as it seems one of the more basic songs here. “Telluride,” while sounding like it would be better electric, is probably one of the best songs the band has written in some time, both intense and very rocking. (They had been playing different versions of this one for a few years and almost killed it altogether.)

Some familiar songs get a new look, like a much slower, darker version of “Wrinkle,” and “Big One, Small One,” one of the band’s faster, harder songs comes across beautifully with congos and more emphasis on percussion. One of the highlights is a male/female duet on “Shadow Child,” a must-hear for anyone born in the early 1970s. Kelly Hall, formerly from the local band Eden’s Poets, lends her gorgeous voice on “Seven Times Apathy,” a melancholy song. The relatively new “I’ve Been Gone” merges effortlessly with the older “Brother’s Hand” for a nice combination. And “10,000 Miles,” a song that I take credit for convincing the band to once again perform live, shines as always, with amazing acoustic guitar work and wonderful harmonies.

One of the best things about a live album is the use of the crowd. Tieff is known for working the crowd, and his comments (including frequent shouts of “Whoo!” and “You guys are great!”) really give this the feel of a live album. Oh, and at one point the Baltimore Oriels fans can be heard shouting out “Yankees suck!” to Tieff’s amusement.

Ok, so you probably don’t know them, and if you don’t, then a live acoustic album may not be the best place to start. But Laughing Colors, and their style of powerful, emotional hard rock, never ceases to amaze me. This band is one of the best bands live and one of the most deserving bands for some recognition. And while this new album may not be the one that brings it in, it just shows another side of this multi-faceted band.