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Now Hear This: Colors of Noise - Max Lee


Rating: ***

Max Lee comes to us from NYC with a song-packed (18!!!) LP called "Colors of Noise".

He did it himself. Literally everything. He played, sung, produced, mixed, mastered, and released it all by himself. Impressive. According to the one-sheet, I'm reading right now, he couldn't have done it without some help, but at the end of the day, it was pretty much all him.

He's inspired by The Talking Heads and Elliott Smith, two artists whom I absolutely love and adore. That's a good sign. Maybe. My favorite basketball player was Michael Jordan and I can barely make a free throw.

I'm gonna hop in the bath and let the tones do the talking. I'll jot my thoughts down after I towel off.

Listen to "Colors of Noise" on Bandcamp here:

"Finders Keepers" is a grungy, lo-fi, number with a radio-tinged voice over to start and angsty lyrics and vocals to boot. It's definitely interesting. We'll leave it at that for now. "No Debt" is much cleaner and more focused. Solid slow burner. "Open" sounds like Nine Inch Nails and it's a good look for Lee. This seems like his sweet spot. The album is picking up steam now. "Where's the Garbage" is another Reznor-sounding track and again, it one of the more enjoyable ones so far. When it's well-produced industrial-pop it works. "History" is a lo-fi garage rocker that ends up offering predictable but enjoyable verse-chorus-verse alt rock. U2-ish. "Could Be" is another slow-tempo NIN sound-alike. Not bad. Not particularly original, but not bad. "2livealife" is electronic grunge-pop that isn't awful, but these song are starting to sound pretty similar if I'm being honest. "The Key" is poppier than the rest and thank God because it adds a much-needed dimension in this album. "C U Again" isn't a Miley Cyrus cover, which is sad because I would love to hear what Max Lee covering that would sound like. "SXE" and "Forever" sound like unfinished demos. This album would have been much better if Max had just made a ten-track record of songs that sound finished. "Painted Eyes" is one of the better songs in the middle part of the album. I like where Lee goes a lot of the time, but the production is lacking. "Never Going Back" is the first place we see the Elliott Smith influence shine through. This might be my favorite track on the album. This is lo-fi done right. "Btwn" is another solid track and that makes three in a row! "How I Feel" has a jazzy vibe and it's a good change of pace even if it's not a particularly good song. "Touchthestars" is another really great track and the back-end of the album has been much better. "Part of Everything" is pop-grunge and it's again quite good. Catchy and sincere and almost *gasp* radio friendly. "Breathe" isn't special and it's a bummer because the end of the album had been so solid up until then. Oh well.

An abysmal middle portion of this album was saved by some decent songs up front and a really great back end. I eneded up thinking this record was good, even though it was headed for 2-star territory about 10 songs in. I think if this record would have been curated better and shorter by about 8 tracks it could have been quite excellent. For not, it's only good and that's ok.