Colossal Gospel are a two piece from Leeds, Alabama. This is a band I liked just from seeing the name of the band and the album cover. I thought their sound was going to be dark like 16 Horsepower or O’Death, but what I was greeted with was something truly magnificent.
Colossal Gospel are Stephen Weibelt and Chris Johnson. The best way I can describe their music is some combination of Fleet Foxes and Grizzly Bear, with hints of The Dodos and Peter Wolf Crier. That’s some serious name-dropping there.
While they lack the transcendent talent of Robyn Pecknold, their vocals have that pastoral folk feel that’s the Fleet Foxes trademark. It took about two listens before I looked past the Fleet Foxes comparison and started to hear Grizzly Bear in the melodies. Much like Grizzly Bear’s tunes, Colossal Gospel’s tunes just float by like clouds made of cotton balls.
Circles was recorded in a makeshift studio in an old shed. The boys spent countless hours perfecting the sounds to wrap around the lyrics. My favorite song on the album is the definitively never-to-be-played-on-radio, “I Have Heart, I Have Heart.” It goes on for over nine minutes and lulls you into a coma. The song doesn’t move past a snail’s pace for the first eight minutes with some lovely harmonies. Then, just to make sure you haven’t completely checked out, it ends with a 45 second flourish of flamenco-inspired guitars and one last verse.
Other winners include Leaving, Bitter Man and Bitter Woman. The vocals could take a bit to get used to but let me tell you something – it is worth every minute you spend. This a wonderfully crafted album that deserves your attention. It is out now via the fine folks at Autumn Tone Records (i.e. the dudes that started Aquarium Drunkard). And as an extra bonus, there is a phenomenal Pat Benatar medley below.