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Colorphase has been lighting up local and regional stages and are probably best known for James J.’s adventurous guitar playing and vocalist Vanessa “V” Anderson’s strong vocals and commanding stage presence. Not as much gets said about the rhythm section, but if you are performing in a 3-piece-plus-vocalist formation you need a battery that bleeds strength. Colorphase has that in drummer Austin Ash and in Lexi Steinweg-Woods, one of the strongest and most solid bassists to come out of the city in some time.
Phase II is the follow-up to a 2011 EP release by the band who also have an unofficial live CD recorded in Chicago. It’s a very strong debut. What it lacks in musical originality it makes up for in execution, soul and spirit. Its riff-heavy rock calls to mind the heavies of the seventies, sounding like UFO one minute, AC/DC the next moment and Led Zeppelin the next. Of course, Anderson’s vocals set the band apart from classic rock contemporaries.
Lyrically the band can take on some weighty social issues; the stripper/prostitute in “Sparkle Tangerine,” for example, and addictions in what may be the best selection, “Run, Run, Run.” The latter features rapping from Rakim and the minute-plus intro shows some of the band’s ability to go beyond rock conventions. The Zeppelin-esque “Space Jam” opens up in a lengthy coda while “December” is another departure, venturing into funky and soulful guitar-driven pop. For a muscular James J. guitar workout check the spirited “High Fast and Tight.”
While the live experience of the band has translated to CD fairly well here, Colorphase will need to dive deeply into their arrangements to differentiate themselves, even with Anderson’s exceptional vocal abilities. As with any band at this stage – assuming they are willing to move to the next level – a manager is going to help immensely, one that can keep the group focused on growing musically, and one that can be sure the band members’ names and the group’s contact info get included on the CD sleeve.