I must admit that I’ve been a little selfish in waiting so long to review Kansas City group The Republic Tigers’ debut album, Keep Color. I even went to the CD release party on May 6, so it isn’t like I didn’t have access to the album.
Two things held me back from reviewing in a timely manner. First, I wanted them to be my little secret. I had been following their growth since before they had signed to Chop Shop Records. However, that seems to no longer be an issue because the group is quickly picking up buzz, so there is really no way that I could keep them a secret after they have had songs on hit shows like “Gossip Girl” and performed on “The Late Show with David Letterman.” Second, because I already loved the group so much I was really worried about having to write an honest review of the album. What if it wasn’t as great as I had hoped? How could I say something mean about one of my favorite bands? Fortunately, after thoroughly listening to the album, I can honestly say that it is a good album and worth the hype that this band is getting.
Keep Color kicks off with the group’s first single, “Buildings and Mountains.” With the instrumental landscape created and the haunting ahhs, by the time lead singer Kenn Jankowski breaks in with a deep voice reminiscent of Ian Curtis, the album already promises to be epic. While the chorus states, “All these buildings and mountains, slowly that arise before our eyes,” you can see before your own eyes the successful career of this band slowly arising like a mountain.
“Golden Sand” follows with tongue twister lyrics and more fun than can be packed into a can. This song would be perfect for a party. Following that is “Feelin the Future,” which begins with hesistant instrumentals that sound like they are mimicking the title and feeling out what to play next.
Next is one of my favorite tracks, “Weatherbeaten.” It is beaten not only with a heavy drum, but weary lyrics. The percussion on this track is brilliant. When the chorus says, “Marching into a synchopated cold, it’s orchestrated to play til we give up and just grow old,” the drums mirror the lyrics with a syncopated beat. With its musical references in the lyrics, this ends up being a personally revealing track for Jankowski as it references coming out of past failures to find success, much like his track record with previous bands.
The next song, “Air Guitar” would be a decent song on its own, but following the emotional “Weatherbeaten,” it is a little flat. Energy picks back up with “The Nerve.” It has an odd introduction, but once it gets going, it ends up being one of the boldest songs on the album. “Contortionists” follows in the strain of “Air Guitar,” meaning it would be interesting on its own, but in the grand scheme of the album, a little out of place.
It is followed by another fun dance number, “Fight Song.” Although if you are going to dance to it, pay close attention to the tricky rhythms. The album stays strong with “Made Concrete,” which is another emotional and personally revealing song as it delves into relationships. Female vocals were a nice addition to a song about relationships. This is probably where I would have ended the album because, yet again, the final song, “Give Arm to Its Socket” comes off as out of place.
Although it wasn’t as fantastic as their self-titled EP, Keep Color is one of my favorite albums of the year. There are a few songs that can be skipped, but if you completely skip out on listening to Jankowski’s amazing vocal range and his bandmates amazing instrumental capabilities, then you are making a big mistake.
Keep Color was released by Chop Shop Records on May 6, 2008.
01. Buildings and Mountains
02. Golden Sand
03. Feelin’ the Future
05. Air Guitar
06. The Nerve
08. Fight Song
09. Made Concrete
10. Give Arm To Its Socket
11. Stranger to the Eyes of a Child-Man
12. Cast On, Cast Off
Written by: Bethany