Colder in Moscow
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Colder in Moscow


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"Colder in Moscow's Great Speculation is a debut beyond their years"

The members of Colder in Moscow have made me feel old before my time. Impressed by the precise yet visceral indie-rock attack of their debut album, Great Speculation, and having read in their brief band biography that they were all former classmates, I incorrectly assumed that meant college, and was anticipating meeting up with your typical 25-year-old band dudes. During the course of my conversation with the alarmingly fresh-faced sextet, it slowly dawned on me that I was the only one sipping a beer because I was apparently the only one of legal drinking age, and I couldn't hide my surprise. How could a band this young—just a little over two years removed from Chaska High School—sound like a group of capable veterans?

Wright Braudt
Colder in Moscow, warmer around a Wurlitzer
Great Speculation

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More About
MoscowMichael RoserJohn WalkerBedroom MagicChaska High School


Great Speculation's expansive sound runs the gamut from explosive borderline-emo anthems to prickly post-punk, with at least one interesting detour into spoken-word sound collage thrown in for good measure, but the end result is a far cry from the band's original intent. "Initially we just wanted an honest representation of what we sounded like live," admits vocalist and keyboardist Michael Roser. "But as the process went on, I think we all opened up to the idea of trying to create a more interesting and immersive experience than just what we could do live. Because listening to a record is such a different experience than being in the crowd at a show."

Unlike a lot of bands out there, who are essentially revolving-door vehicles supporting a lone singer-songwriter—I'm looking at you, Wilco—Colder in Moscow's sound is decidedly democratic. Moments where frontman Roser's quavering voice and dread-filled lyrics take center stage are quickly followed by those in which a punchy drum fill or shimmering guitar pattern is seizing the spotlight. Every piece of the sextet's massive melodic tapestry feels so essential that it's hard to imagine the band soldiering on through any lineup changes.

Turns out they already tried—and weren't happy with the results. "[Drummer] Nate [Palmquist] left halfway during the making of the album to go to school in Texas," explains vocalist and guitarist Eric Carlson. "The guy who replaced him temporarily was basically a heavy-metal drummer. We were a lot louder for a while there until he came back."

"We became just a completely different band," concurs Roser. "We even changed our name because it just didn't feel like the same thing anymore. We've come to understand that the only way to get the sound we want is with these six specific people. It sounds kind of clichéd, but it's really evolved into a kind of organic and spiritual songwriting process in the band."

While the band's chemistry and promise shown on Great Speculation is undeniable, so is its edgy and uncompromising nature. How does a group whose sound veers all over the map find the right niche? "We've been really lucky so far in terms of booking shows just through us personally being friends with people in good bands," admits Palmquist. "But it's still kind of tough. I personally feel like our music is pretty esoteric and doesn't really fit in naturally on a bill with anybody else necessarily or any current trends."

The group's biggest influence isn't rhythmically bruising indie-rock icons like the Dismemberment Plan or jittery New Wave acolytes the 12Rods—although shades of both groups can be heard at times—as much as it is each other. "We all work off of each other," explains guitarist John Walker. "Most of my parts are based on what [bassist] Pat [Stover] writes, and I couldn't come up with them without him."

Despite their youth and relatively swift ascendance to regular club presence on the local scene, Colder in Moscow's members aren't getting carried away with starry-eyed plans for global domination—right now they're just glad to be beyond the band-practice planning stage. "When we first started playing in my garage, it was an experiment," says Palmquist. "The goal was just making it to the next rehearsal. Now we've gotten to the point where the goal is focusing on the next show. So it's a gradual process. We're probably the least pragmatic band in the world. It's something we need to work on."

For now, pragmatism can take a backseat to the joys of refining their evolving sound ("The tempos still change pretty drastically from show to show...usually intentionally," jokes Palmquist) and reveling in their newfound friendship. Though they were relative strangers when they walked the halls of Chaska High together, the past 18 months working together as a band have transformed them into the kind of closely knit unit that's comfortable finishing one another's sentences during their first press interview.

"We're all each other's best friends now," claims Walker while his bandmates chuckle and readily nod in agreement. "I basically only talk to my mom, my girlfriend, and these guys." - CIty Pages

"Colder in Moscow at 7th Street Entry on 1/2/10"

“Okay, this next one is a loud one,” John Walker said in introducing almost every song during Colder in Moscow’s show at the Entry Saturday night. The funny thing was, none of the songs really got that loud, nor did they rock that hard. Not that that was really a problem; on such a bitterly cold night as this one, the laid-back warmth of the Chaska sextet’s post-pop was what made their show such a welcoming refuge from the harsh winter weather that ushered in the new year.

Of course, the “loud” references weren’t without a bit of sarcasm on Walker’s part, which shouldn’t come as all that much of a surprise. Sporting a scruffy blond beard and a red and white flannel shirt, the band’s rhythm guitarist and backup vocalist played the role of the mc for most of the night, doing his best to keep the mood relaxed between songs.

“Come on, I’m the fat guy,” he explained at one point, “I have to talk a lot.” When lead guitarist Eric Carlson broke a string, it was Walker who kept things moving along while Carlson made a replacement, regaling the audience with stories about watching Seinfeld and smashing his toenail while working at a CVS.

In comparison, the rest of the band mostly went about the business of playing to a small but intimate group of concertgoers. Kicking off a set that featured most of the songs from Great Speculation with the song “DCRS,” lead singer Michael Roser set the tone as he hunched over his electric piano, looking down intently as he littered chunky chords over the music’s bluesy melodies and abruptly-turning time signatures. For all the apparent seriousness in the band’s playing, the music remained loose, its emo-tinged harmonies delivered with a rough spontaneity that complemented the flowing arrangements.

Rolling through such numbers as “Anthropomorphic,” “Yellow Rainsuits,” and “Draw” early in the set, it was Carlson who got the most animated, swinging his arms as he strummed his guitar, shaking the neck of his instrument for extra vibrato and leaning in close to his amplifier stack to get more feedback. As a result, when he took over lead vocals on “Blastoise,” it made perfect sense that it wound up being the most furious song of the night, the band straining to reach his tenor as it crashed from the song’s ascending verses to the half-time swing of the choruses.

Toward the end of the show, things tailed off a bit as Colder in Moscow’s playing got a little messier, but even then it only seemed to enhance the playfulness of some of the songs; the iceberg reference at the beginning of “Titanic Calawsys,” for instance, came across much more tongue-in-cheek than may have otherwise been obvious.

Before setting into the last song, “Hotel Holland,” it was only appropriate that Walker get the last word. “I thought I heard Eric laughing when I started singing,” he said, trying to draw his band mate into the monologue. Carlson – who had said little throughout the evening – did his best to avoid the trap, simply replying, “Yes, I was laughing,” then went about tuning his guitar.

“Well,” Walker exclaimed, “it was the most frightening thing I’ve ever heard!” - How Was The Show - Jeff Gage

"Heretofore flying under the radar"

"Heretofore flying under the radar, Colder in Moscow breaks out tonight with a CD release show at the 7th St. Entry in support of their debut album, "[Great Speculation]," which does an enviably good job of balancing bright vocal harmonies and pop guitar jangle with crunchier moments of rocking mayhem. The total package makes for one of the more engaging debuts I've heard on the local scene this year." - Rob van Alstyne


Great Speculation - 2009



In early 2008, Colder in Moscow, consisting of six former high school classmates, reconnected a year after parting ways-- each member had some hand in eachothers musical development starting in middle school, and played in numerous bands in various combinations-- it wasn't until a year after graduation that they were all in the same room at the same time. The cold Minneapolis winter was proved to be the inspiration needed to begin writing music together, and after a few early acoustic demos and trial-and-error rehearsals, Colder in Moscow settled in as a full band and recorded it's first full length album, Great Speculation, in two sessions--one in August of '08, the second in March of '09.

In the time since its formation, Colder in Moscow has played its way through the Minneapolis/St. Paul music scene. After initially developing a stronghold at the 400 Bar, they began to move around, hitting wherever they could. They have been lucky enough to play with a ton of talented bands from our hometown--Gospel Gossip, The Alpha Centauri, Minneapolis 1989, Solid Gold-- as well as opening for national acts including--Bound Stems, Gentleman Reg, Illinois, Locksley, and Scout Niblett.