Music, Print, Reviews October 5, 2020

Album Review: Augustus – Color TV and Tall Tales

by Kevin Johnston

Founders Colin Kelly and Jim Herlihy of the Boulder-based band Augustus have delivered a technicolor whopper. Color TV and Tall Tales, their 5th LP, features guests from Eldren, The Yawpers and Dragondeer, who add flesh and flare to the bones of the band, but the original duo’s rock rawness remains the focus of this accessible, eccentric rock n’ roll romp.

Opener “Life Can’t Be Better Without You” is marked by Ryan Healy’s impressively persistent, stuttering snare drum rudiment and a gang-chorus of “woo hoo hoo” in poppy Supergrass style, but Colin Kelly’s matter-of-fact vocal maintains the indie vibe.

Augustus from left: Collin Kelly, Ryan Healy, Jim Herlihy and Rob Stragnel.

A Rolling Stones-inspired harmonica honk (via Eric Halborg of Dragondeer) and mild classic rock chug in ”Tunnel” reveals more old-school revivalism here. And while Mac DeMarco made dad-rock cool a few years back, Color proves that and much more. The energy and tightness of the band’s arrangements prove this collection to be a true classic rock cruiser.

Color TV and Tall Tales is progressive and experimental too. The band’s keen ear for rad guitar tones will surely win them new fans hungry for a live show. Kelly’s ripping on the stoner rock / atmospheric blues of “Night On The Lam” would draw entire neighborhoods to the Augustus garage to bang their heads, witnessing frequent solos from both Kelly and Herlihy.

Augustus founders Collin Kelly and Jim Herlihy. Color TV and Tall Tales drops October 9, 2020

“Be Your Man” shows a Father John Misty influence in Kelly’s “every man” vocal. Like so many great rock ‘n’ roll singers, his delivery doesn’t necessarily impress us with his chops, but offers a realness with which we identify.

“Lights Out” is a top track in the primal, pounding territory of My Morning Jacket’s “Victory Dance.” But then, “Kick The Doors Down” brings a light, upbeat Tom Petty feel with a ripping, straight-up Thin Lizzy Guitar solo, and an out-of-nowhere, washy synth break like the opening credits for Portlandia. The synth touches throughout are courtesy of Eldren’s Tyler Imbrogno, who engineered and mixed much of the record.

Moves like this are schizophrenic and genre-less, but that’s some of the appeal of bringing new collaborators to the fold. Expert blues rock grooves are clearly the prime-time programming of Color TV and Tall Tales, but psychedelic vocal treatments, Hammond organ stabs ala Kansas (“Attencion,” “Apple Trees”) and curveballs of dissonant acoustic guitar jazz (the Harry Nielsen-like “Without Love”) are where Augustus tell us their true tales.

Color TV and Tall Tales is due out October 9. Check out for more.