In nearly all of our childhoods we had a moment where, presented with an array of paint colors, we decided to mix them all together. We earnestly believed that if we could somehow mix the right proportions of every color that we’d unlock some magical, secret color beyond the visible spectrum. What we made, however, was a great glob of purplish-gray mess. Diamond Rugs, after years of experimentation in their separate bands, have actually managed to achieve the sonic equivalent of our childhood ambitions by blending all the colors of the sonic spectrum into a brilliant gold.
Formed from members of Deer Tick, Black Lips, Los Lobos, Dead Confederate, and Six Finger Satellite as a mutually escapist side project, their self-titled debut turned into something rare: derivative of its members’ other projects, yet distinctly unique on its own. The result is an album that is undeniably addicting. Each song reminds us just enough of something we’ve heard before to get us to prick up our ears and listen, but manages to always stay on the right side of the line between imitation and repetition. At times they sound almost like the channeled spirit of early Rolling Stones, right before they change gears entirely and venture into a sound more akin to the Band. While it sounds like an unfocused mess on paper, Diamond Rugs manages to pull it off by keeping their rhythms tight and simple, allowing them to transition between sounds with total ease. It’s that feeling of almost being about to catch them ripping someone off that makes the album somewhat listenable, ending before we know it with the heart-wrenchingly earnest conclusion of “Christmas in a Chinese Restaurant.”
Normally, a band trying to accomplish such omnipresence on their first album would be putting the cart far before the horse. The members of Diamond Rugs, however, have been cutting their teeth for nearly 15 years, and their collective experience has proven more than equal to the task.