Every music town has people like F. Alex Johnson: the ones who seem like they're always in motion, always enriching the scene, but don't always have the visibility of peers whose names resonate further afield. Johnson has been that guy in Northampton for nearly 30 years, with the Drunk Stuntmen, as lead guitarist for the Young at Heart Chorus and, since 2012, with Colorway. The band's new album, "These Are the Days," is a rock-solid collection of songs with catchy hooks, taut riffs and hard-won wisdom.
Johnson and bassist Matthew Clegg and drummer/singer Riley Godleski — successors to original members Dave Hayes and JJ O’Connell — play together in a deep musical pocket, guitar riffs snaking their way through tight rhythm parts on songs that leave plenty of room for Johnson's tuneful voice. He's an unfussy singer with an ear for melody, and more than one of the songs here seems destined to spend time stuck in your head. "Love Is All Around You" is effervescent and catchy, and Johnson's vocals on the title track provide a through line over a guitar part that alternates between noodly riffage and cascading arpeggios. Fountains of Wayne and Look Park singer Chris Collingwood adds backing vocals on the track, and also contributes to the sunny indie-pop number "Always Been Summer." After a poppy first half, the album takes a more ornate turn on songs that have a different sense of urgency. Collingwood likened the sound to Golden Earring, which is about right on "Want to Be Everywhere," with its propulsive rhythm and epic guitars. "Give It Away" has an uptempo boogie feel, while "Eyes Like Fire" is a full-throttle rocker full of bristling guitar and a wah-wah break.
Though Johnson's guitar playing is often, and deservedly, a main focus, the songs on "These Are the Days" show Colorway's breadth, without stinting on depth. It's the kind of album that just might bring the band some attention beyond the Pioneer Valley.