Classic Album Review: Lightning Bolt- Wonderful Rainbow

Full Title: Wonderful Rainbow
Artist: Lightning Bolt
Year: 2003
Label: Load
1) Hello Morning- 7
2) Assassins- 8
3) Dracula Mountain- 7
4) 2 Towers- 7
5) On Fire- 8/9
6) Crown of Storms- 8
7) Longstockings- 6/7
8) Wonderful Rainbow- 4
9) 30,000 Monkies- 6
10) Duel in the Deep- 7

Comments: Every now and then as a fan of music I get a particular urge to go out and purchase a record I wouldn’t typically listen to or venture into a style that is less common on my ipod. Enter Lightning Bolt. Before I listened to Wonderful Rainbow I knew LB for about a year. I listened to several of their songs, researched the duo, and watched many a youtube video. I do this with various groups from time to time, so I when I got the aforementioned urge, I turned to these noise rockers and what do you know this LP was exactly what I was looking for; a musical (earthly) delight! From what I have read, this album is supposed to be their most accessible and I can definitely see why. The basslines are invigorating, memorable, and even hooky at times. As always the pair deliver a savage, brutal attack to your ears and never let up, not one bit. This may not be their harshest release, but without a doubt this is a euphoric onslaught of all different kinds of sounds and in many ways for a curious fella like me that’s part of the appeal. Just being blown away and perplexed, not knowing what the hell they are doing! It should be noted though that this isn’t just noise or collages of noise, it’s noisy alright, but has structure (amidst chaos) and certainly has musicality. It may be complex, but not too complex, if you are looking to just rock out, you can really enjoy this album. If you’re a musician or a recording engineer, you probably will appreciate the near flawless recording, production, and attention to the musicianship. Brian Gibson makes the bass sound more like a guitar, at least to me and he shreds like crazy. Brian Chippendale is easily one of the best drummers I have ever heard and brings a lot of force and intensity to his playing; his vocals are also extremely menacing, considering he (as always) uses a microphone that is made for a household telephone receiver. His yalps are eerie and sound like he is trapped somewhere, screaming for help from some damaged speaker. In any case, the group’s unconvential recording methods are not only unique, but ultimately effective in reeling the listener in and demanding their attention, unlike many other unconventional artists that usually end up boring you and me. In terms of tracks, I feel like this whole record is an entire experience and should be judged that way. But, at the same time each track has their own story, so to speak. The ratings listed above are more based on levels of enjoyment and not necessarily quality. Highlights for me include the transistion from “Hello Morning,” into “Assassins,” simply amazing. “Assassins” as a whole is one of the best tracks from the record and perhaps the easiest for the casual listener to get turned on to. “On Fire” is by far my favorite track, the riff is pretty damn catchy and ropes you in and never lets go. I really dig the variety of the tune and how it switches into gentler vibes toward the end, all while maintaining a pounding wall of bass. This continues on “Crown of Storms,” one of the other stand out tracks. I guess for my tastes the rest of the album, while still kickass in its overwheleming heaviness, didn’t WOW me as much as the earlier songs on the record, but this is more of a personal thing as I’m sure folks can find plenty to desire in these remaining songs. Lastly, another great thing about LB and this record is its recording; some of the best recorded music I have had the pleasure of hearing, with Shellac as the closest comparison that comes to my mind. Overall, this is not a record I will listen to all the time or through and through over and over again, but it is a little masterpiece in its own right and if I was more into the noise scene then I would probably rank this higher. All in all, a sound addition to my record collection, and I will be sure to listen to another record from the mighty Lightning Bolt again sometime in the future.

Grade: 7/10- I highly recommend, but I can’t give it a higher rating, because of my ultra pop loving soul.

Too bad they didn’t have “On Fire” live, since I wanted to post a live video. Here’s “Dracula Mountain” live instead, just as badass. I plan on seeing them live one day as they are on my concert bucket list. Looks insane!

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