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CD Reviews: Review of Pride: The Cold Lover by Red Wanting Blue
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Red Wanting Blue: Pride: The Cold Lover (2004)

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Columbus, Ohio is hardly a hotbed these days for national recording artists. The likes of Howlin’ Maggie and Big Back Forty have come and long since gone. Enter a band of college mates who met in Athens nearly a decade ago, Red Wanting Blue. Since establishing a grass roots allegiance at Ohio University among frat guys in tattered ball caps and wannabe hippy chicks, frontman Scott Terry and guitarist Epp (with a rotating lineup for a rhythm section) have dragged the band across the Midwest for years now touring the college pubs and crusty rock halls that brag cheap cover charges and even cheaper beer. Over the span of nine years and six independent records, Terry has penned a novel’s worth of poetry and life sonnets, eventually melting them down into 4-minute musical compositions.

Pride: The Cold Lover stands as RWB’s breakout endeavor, even if without a major label. This latest offering, recorded at a studio in Raleigh, North Carolina, boasts production know-how from the closest thing to “big time” sound engineers that these guys have experienced. The outcome is startlingly good. Falling somewhere between The Unforgettable Fire-era U2 and the current recipe that drives Our Lady Peace, the 2005 version of Red Wanting Blue is razor-sharp and deft in each of 10 works of art here. In a powerfully enticing play on geometry, “The Formula” proposes, “I’ll be your Van Gogh if you’ll be every reason why it made so much sense.” It’s just one of endless literary references that Terry holds out to make Pride more attention-grabbing than prior outings. “Tearing Down Stars” works on every level, a rollicking good musical ride, full of multi-instrumental layers, but an equally intriguing piece of fiction. “We save the tears to keep as souvenirs, multiplying in the dark so we’ll never be able to spark a fire,” comes across as convincing as anything their own idols have scribed. Then on the striking mid-tempo shuffle “Pride is a Lonely Blanket”, Terry applies his best Brian Vander Ark in breathing, “We can’t seem to speak with a tongue so roped and twisted, we are the part of the moment that lasts when we hold it.”

For Epp’s part, his once remedial guitar playing has graduated to occupy the same landscape as that of his influences, nothing shocking, nothing too over-the-top. Subtle odes to The Cure can be heard throughout “Are You Listening?”, another slick bit of stacking instrumental tracks and letting ‘er rip vocally that both pay off. The highlight of Pride, however, comes bounding through on back-to-back ballads, “Spies and Lovers” and “Your Alibi”. The latter is a bona fide radio cut just waiting to be unsheathed (if not for Clear Channel’s resistance to the unsigned), while “Spies and Lovers” tackles today’s headlines with a predictable liberal bias we’ve come to foresee from our musical voices.

RWB has come a long way from playing back porch parties and sorority mixers in central Ohio. Their crusade to build a loyal throng of followers by endlessly touring and stuffing the pipeline with new music should eventually spawn national notoriety. In the meantime, a sixth chapter in their decade-old novel embodies a commitment to career that many bands only hallucinate about. Two thumbs up, lads! 

~Red Rocker 


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