Ultimate Painting take their name from a piece of artwork created by Drop Artists of the Drop City commune of Colorado in 1966. Around the same time in New York City, Lou Reed and John Cale formed the Velvet Underground.
Just a few years back, James Hoare of Veronica Falls and Jack Cooper of Mazes formed a third band, drawing its name from the colorful piece of art and its sound from guitarwork by Reed, Cale and Sterling Morrison. The result is a jangly, occasionally bluesy, sort of psychedelic rock that pays tribute to the ’60s quite masterfully while sounding fresh.
The duo played a show at Comet Ping Pong on Tuesday as a stop on their tour in support of their new album, Green Lanes, released in August by Trouble in Mind. They kicked off their set with some songs from their debut, a self-titled album released in 2014.
Some of these songs strike a melancholy tone, as with “Riverside,” a song that seems to be about striking out alone and perhaps become lost along or in a river. It doesn’t lapse into being sinister per se, but there is something in the song that would make it a fitting soundtrack for a solitary figure walking out into the dusk, never to be seen again.
Watch Ultimate Painting play “Riverside” live for KEXP in Seattle on March 31, 2015:
It’s a bit of a relief then when Jack says they are going to “pick it up a little bit” by introducing songs from the new album, and they move into “(I’ve Got The) Sanctioned Blues,” certainly a song about having the blues but also one fueled by quite a jauntier rhythm.
While not a big departure at all from the first album, the songs from the second album occasionally provide a snappier gait and sunnier guitars. James and Jack follow up “Sanctioned Blues” with “Break the Chain,” and in doing so they become downright reassuring with their lyrical insistence that “it’s all right to break the chain.”
All the while, James and Jack play with ease, placing more emphasis on their gentle guitars than on the accompanying airy harmonies that serve more as icing on the cake.
The “ultimate” example of this focus on their instruments came in the last number of their set, as they jammed out to the bluesy “Ten Street” from their debut album. After starting off the song with its verses contemplating the narrator’s destination, James and Jack turn the track into an extended, unhurried guitar jam. The duo fill the space around them quite well with a psychedelic riff that clearly pleases them, and in turn pleases the audience as well.
Watch Ultimate Painting perform “Ten Street” for KEXP on March 31, 2015:
All in all, Ultimate Painting deliver a pleasing show for a space as intimate as Comet Ping Pong, where they drew a respectfully hushed room that was more than half full. They travel on to Atlanta tonight and play more dates through to the West Coast over the next few weeks before returning to Europe (and eventually home to England).
James and Jack are talented, prolific musicians certain to ease you into a reflective state of mind.