August 21, 2014

LP: Black Rainbow - Black Rainbow

Punk veterans Black Rainbow get wild on their debut record.

It’s funny to be listening to Black Rainbow while in a sunny coffee shop in Maine where I’m fairly certain I just heard someone say, “That’s fine, I can just meet you at the boat”. I’m here with my partner’s family, which means I’ve traded in my all-black ensemble for sandals (EW GROSS PEOPLE CAN SEE MY FEET) and my sometimes less-than-pleasant attitude for the starry-eyed look I get when people keep asking me if I’d like to add lobster to that. Listening to Black Rainbow in this coffee shop is my best-kept secret: y’all don’t even know how real I’m keeping it.

For those of you who don’t know, this might be San Francisco’s Black Rainbow’s first LP but they're no strangers to the punk scene. The members have been in various bands (Miami, Allergic to Bullshit, Shotwell, to name a few) for nearly two-decades. Their last several years have been dedicated to public health activism, zine creation (Erick Lyle’s SCAM is one), punk and queer art, and the general uprooting of all things oppressive. And now, they’re finally releasing an album, put out by Shellshag’s Starcleaner Records. Spoiler alert: It’s a real shredder. Combining the brash, Halloween-feel of something like Dead Moon with the beckoning howls of Screaming Females, Black Rainbow makes the political; personal, and the isolating; communal. The record progresses like a roller coaster - jerking the listener up and down to that slow lull where you grip the sides of your seat waiting for what comes next, until you go full speed ahead with songs “Brownfields” through “Hey Sailor, What Ship” (tracks 6-9). The songs may seem to run too fast, but singer Ivy Jeanne grabs your hand, keeping you aurally in stride. A romantic desperation soaks “Possible,” as Jeanne resolutely instructs to, “hold on to what is [possible],” over what can only be described as a punk-rock slow dance. Things get frantic and anxious on“Make Amends,” the heavy, fast fills are interjected by vocals that sound like the echoes inside of a retreating cavern. But ultimately, what makes the record so attainable, is the earnestness of “Center of the Mile”, which is indicative of the whole album. It invokes and questions and pleads. All the while over hopeful riffs, no less. Even though the onslaught of discouraging news about the world becomes seemingly amaranthine, Black Rainbow reminds us that we’re in it together and that’s not for nothing.


Listen to Black Rainbow on bandcamp.

Madeline Meyer, a Los Angeles transport to Philadelphia. She writes screenplays and plays guitar and sings in Littler. Her favorite things are olives, board games, and dad jokes.