Chroma (album)

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Studio album by Cartel
Released September 20, 2005
Recorded May–June 2005,
Treesound Studios,
Atlanta, Georgia
Genre Pop,[1][2] pop punk,[1][2] rock[2]
Length 49:50
Label The Militia Group
Producer Zack Odom, Kenneth Mount, Cartel
Cartel chronology
The Ransom EP
Live Dudes

Chroma is the debut studio album by the American rock band Cartel. Formed in mid-2003 Cartel self-released an EP the following year. Shortly afterwards founding guitarist Andy Lee left the band was replaced by Nic Hudson. Following a performance at a music conference in Atlanta, the band signed to The Militia Group. With songs planned out, the band went to record with producers Zack Odom and Kenneth Mount. Recording took place at Treesound Studios in Atlanta in May and June 2005. Chroma released through The Militia Group in September 2005. The album sold 3,000 copies in its first week and charted at number 140 on the Billboard 200 chart.


Cartel formed in August 2003[3] in Atlanta.[4] The band consisted of vocalist Will Pugh, bassist Ryan Roberts, drummer Kevin Sanders, and guitarists Joseph Pepper[4] and Andy Lee.[3] The members had known each other since high school and have played in various bans prior to Cartel.[3] Cartel self-released The Ransom EP[4] in March 2004.[5] Half of the songs on the EP were written by Lee.[6] Pugh, Roberts, Sanders and Pepper considered themselves a "tight-knit group".[3] The band thought Lee didn't fit in with the rest of them.[3] Pugh explained that "With someone like Andy, [...] it's gonna lead to peoples' feelings getting hurt."[3] Lee was replaced by Nic Hudson.[3] Hudson nearly joined the army before the band asked him to join.[3]

In July 2004[5] the band played at the Atlantis Music Conference in Atlanta.[6] Rory from The Militia Group saw the band's performance.[6] The band signed to The Militia Group, who re-released the band's EP.[4] A month after the signing, the band recorded a demo of "Honestly" as a "kind of trial thing" with Zack Odom and Kenneth Mount as the band were looking for producers.[6] In September, the band toured with My American Heart, A Second Chance and All Rights Reserved.[7] In January and February 2005 the band supported As Tall as Lions and The Receiving End of Sirens on their tour of the U.S.[8] The "Honestly" demo was posted on the band's PureVolume account in March.[9] In April, the band went on the Family Affair tour alongside label mates Brandtson, The Rocket Summer, and Umbrellas.[9]

Composition and recording[edit]

"Say Anything (Else)", "Honestly" and "Settle Down" were written in summer 2004.[6] All three songs featured new riffs compared to their earlier versions.[6] Cartel had planned out all of the songs before they went to record.[6] Pugh mentioned there was "pressure" due to Lee not being a member of the band, despite him being "just one small part" of the band, "he definitely brought riffs".[6] For the majority of the songs, Pugh would come up with the basic form of a song, "a verse, chord progression, chorus, melody, things like that."[6] Pugh is credited with writing all the lyrics, while the songs are credited to the band.[10] Demos were recorded in five hours.[6] The band co-produced the album with producers Zack Odom and Kenneth Mount.[10][nb 1] The pair also engineered and mixed the album.[10] The album was recorded at Treesound Studios, located in Atlanta, Georgia,[10] over the course of eight days[6] between May 18 and June 21, 2005.[10] The drums were recorded in a room called The Cave.[13] The album was mastered by Gavin Lurssen at The Mastering Lab, located in Hollywood, California.[10] Pugh later thought the band "didn't really have a lot of time" to record the album.[6] He called the recording process "really strained" and filled with "a lot of stress".[6] Pugh considered the album "a big step up" from the band's EP.[6]

Pugh was dating a girl while they were in college and shortly afterwards Pugh went on tour.[14] The pair broke up due to Pugh not knowing how long he would be on tour for.[14] A year after they broke up, the girl started dating another guy, much to Pugh's annoyance.[14] It "just ate at me so hard" and as a result Pugh wrote "Honestly".[14] While the band were working on "Honestly" Pugh thought that "it just wasn't quite sounding right" and instead lifed the vocal track from the demo on to the album version.[13] "It matched up perfectly, which was sweet!" explained Pugh.[13] "Burn This City" is about the band getting out of town and having other people telling them they couldn't.[6] "Save Us" was the first piano song Pugh wrote.[6] The melody for the song came from Pugh messing around with a piano at Pepper's house.[6] The song was originally in the key of C but the band moved it to the key of G "in order to keep as little black keys out of it as possible".[6] Odom plays the strings on the song and also "The Minstrel's Prayer".[10]

"Luckie. St" was originally recorded for the band's EP, but was re-recorded for Chroma.[15] "If I Fail", according to Pugh, "was kind of the same thing" as "Honestly".[14] For "The Minstrel's Prayer", Pugh played all of the acoustic guitars.[6] With "A" the band knew what they wanted to do with the track.[6] "A" features choruses of other songs on the album.[6] They wanted the album to end "with an ellipsis, where you can be expecting other things and not just really closing it off."[6] The inspiration for this was Jimmy Eat World's "Goodbye Sky Harbor".[6] "A" features programmed drums that were taken from André 3000 MP3 player, which he had left at the studio.[13] All of the programming was done by Pugh.[6] The band were "messing around" with the MP3 and the programmed drums that the band found on it were "good so we were like, 'Cool, let's just use this!'", according to Pugh.[13] Mount provided additional programming on "Q" and "A", while Julia Kugel recorded additional vocals for the two songs.[10] David Webers plays trumpets on "A".[10]

Artwork and packaging[edit]

Art direction was handled by Randall Jenkins[10] from The Militia Group[6] and Cartel.[10] Jenkins created the artwork for the album.[6] It was initially going to be printed on vellum, similar to what Copeland had used for their Beneath Medicine Tree (2003) album.[6] Due to cost issues this was not done.[6] Pugh said that "it really didn't reflect the overall idea of the artwork we had in the long run."[6] The band then scrapped this and went for "hi-res photos and things like that."[6] The concept for which came from Chris Donahue, Pugh and Jenkins.[6] Jenkins produced all the photographs needed and compiled them.[6] Jenkins also did the design and layout.[10] The band photograph was taken by Zack Arias for Usedfilm.[10] The Militia Group edition of the album was a jewel case with a slipcase while the Epic edition was simply a jewel case. The vinyl edition was a gatefold sleeve in a die-cut slipcover.[16]


Before Cartel's album was released the band attracted major label attention.[6] On September 6, 2005 the album was made available for streaming.[17] Chroma was released on September 20 through The Militia Group.[18] In December,[19] the band toured with The Working Title, Terminal and New Atlantic.[20] The band went on a co-headlining tour with Copeland with support from The Starting Line and Gatsbys American Dream[21] in February, March[22] and April 2006[21] titled the Screaming Is for Babies Tour.[23] On February 6, 2006 the band released a video for "Honestly".[23] The idea for the video came from some of the band's old high school friends.[14] The band featured in a live portion of the video.[14] On March 6, 2006 it was announced the band had signed to Epic.[24] Epic wanted the band to re-do their live portion for the "Honestly" video.[14] It ended up costing $20,000 to reshoot the scene.[14] On June 8, it was announced that Roberts had left the band.[25] Jeff Lett filled in his position.[25] On June 6, Chroma was re-released through Epic.[26] The re-release included slightly altered artwork,[26] access to their online fan club,[27] and a three song live EP entitled Live Dudes.[28] The band played on the 2006 edition of Warped Tour.[4] In September, the band headlined several shows, before supporting New Found Glory in October and November.[29] The band went on a headlining tour in February and March 2007 with support from Boys Like Girls, Cobra Starship, and Quietdrive.[30] On March 3, the band released a music video for "Say Anything (Else)".[31]

Reception and legacy[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AbsolutePunk (86%)[18]
Allmusic 3.5/5 stars[1] 4/5 stars[2]
Spin Favorable[32]

Chroma sold over 3,000 copies in its first week, becoming The Militia Group's most successful artist release.[21] The success of the album had been due to the band's online fan base and their use of Myspace, according to the vice president of marketing at Epic.[33] By February 2007 the album sold 183,000 copies.[33] By October 2009 the album sold over 250,000 copies.[34] In an interview with Alternative Press in May 2015 Pugh reckoned that album sales stood around "280, 290 thousand copies [sold]".[14] The album charted in the U.S. at number 140 on the Billboard 200,[35] number two on the Heatseekers Albums chart[36] and number 38 on the Independent Albums chart.[37] "Honestly" charted at number 31 on the Pop Songs chart,[38] number 65 on the Digital Songs chart[39] and number 89 on the Hot 100.[40] "Luckie. St" was included on Alternative Press‍‍ '​‍s "Windows Down - 11 summer driving songs" list.[15]

On February 2, 2015, Cartel announced a headlining anniversary tour was to take place between April and May in the U.S.[41] This was the band's first headlining tour in four years.[14] The band was supported by Hit the Lights, TEAM* and Driver Friendly.[41] The band played one London date in May as part of the tour.[42] It was also announced that an anniversary vinyl of Chroma would be available for pre-sale.[43] The vinyl was released by Field Day and limited to 1,000 copies.[16] On April 16, "Honestly" was certified gold for selling 500,000 copies.[44] To celebrate this, the band have released a 7" vinyl with an acoustic version of the song as a B-side.[44]

Track listing[edit]

All lyrics by Will Pugh. All songs by Cartel.[10]

  1. "Say Anything (Else)" – 3:51
  2. "Honestly" – 3:30
  3. "Runaway" – 2:53
  4. "Matter of Time" – 3:22
  5. "Burn This City" – 4:22
  6. "Save Us" – 4:39
  7. "Luckie St." – 3:45
  8. "Settle Down" – 3:05
  9. "If I Fail" – 3:42
  10. "The Minstrel's Prayer" – 4:41
  11. "Q" – 2:37
  12. "A" – 9:45


Personnel per booklet.[10]

Chart positions[edit]

Charts (2005–6) Peak
U.S. Billboard 200[35] 140
U.S. Billboard Heatseekers Albums[36] 2
U.S. Billboard Independent Albums[37] 38


  1. ^ The band would later with with Mount and Odom on Cartel (2007)[11] and Collider (2013).[12]
  1. ^ a b c Anderson, Rick. "Chroma - Cartel - Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved May 30, 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c d Scatton, Barry (October 14, 2005). "Cartel - Chroma". Retrieved October 30, 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Ortenzi, Rob (September 8, 2006). "Cartel: Unstuck From A Moment You Can't Get Out Of". Alternative Press. Archived from the original on October 20, 2006. Retrieved July 26, 2015. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Loftus, Johnny. "Cartel - Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved July 26, 2015. 
  5. ^ a b "Old News". Archived from the original on August 27, 2004. Retrieved July 26, 2015. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag Kohli, Rohan (August 25, 2005). "Cartel Interview - 8.25.2005 - Interview". Retrieved July 26, 2015. 
  7. ^ "BreakingCustom v1.0". Archived from the original on August 15, 2004. Retrieved July 26, 2015. 
  8. ^ brian (January 13, 2005). "Tours: As Tall As Lions on tour with The Receiving End Of Sirens; Cartel on most dates". Retrieved July 26, 2015. 
  9. ^ a b brian (March 18, 2005). "Cartel posts new demo, going into studio in May". Retrieved July 26, 2015. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Chroma (Booklet). Cartel. The Militia Group. 2005. TMG033. 
  11. ^ Cartel (Booklet). Cartel. Epic/The Militia Group. 2007. 88697098352. 
  12. ^ Collider (Sleeve). Cartel. Cartel Music. 2013. 01. 
  13. ^ a b c d e Slessor 2015, p. 56
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k McGuire, Colin (May 25, 2015). "Will Pugh of Cartel looks back on 10 years of 'Chroma,' "Honestly" going Gold". Alternative Press. Retrieved July 26, 2015. 
  15. ^ a b Heisel, Scott (May 15, 2013). "Weekly Playlist #25: Windows Down - 11 summer driving songs". Alternative Press. Retrieved June 21, 2015. 
  16. ^ a b "Field Day Records — Cartel | Chroma | 10 Year Anniversary". Field Day Records. Retrieved August 11, 2015. 
  17. ^ brian (September 6, 2005). "Media: Full stream of Cartel's 'Chroma' online". Retrieved July 26, 2015. 
  18. ^ a b Tate, Jason (November 20, 2005). "Cartel - Chroma". Archived from the original on September 29, 2007. Retrieved July 26, 2015. 
  19. ^ "Cartel post Christmas song, live footage; on tour right now". Alternative Press. December 7, 2005. Retrieved July 26, 2015. 
  20. ^ Kohli, Rohan (November 12, 2005). "Cartel / TWT / Terminal / New Atlantic Tour Dates". Retrieved July 26, 2015. 
  21. ^ a b c "Official Cartel Press Release". Archived from the original on 25 March 2009. Retrieved July 26, 2015. 
  22. ^ aubin (December 9, 2005). "Tours: The Starting Line / Copeland / Gatsbys American Dream / Cartel". Retrieved July 26, 2015. 
  23. ^ a b "New videos from Cartel, the Rocket Summer posted". Alternative Press. February 2, 2006. Retrieved July 26, 2015. 
  24. ^ Kohli, Rohan (March 6, 2006). "Cartel Signs To Epic". Retrieved July 26, 2015. 
  25. ^ a b Kohli, Rohan (June 8, 2006). "Ryan Roberts Leaves Cartel". Retrieved July 26, 2015. 
  26. ^ a b Kohli, Rohan (April 13, 2006). "Cartel Re-Release Date". Retrieved July 26, 2015. 
  27. ^ Giaramita, Frank (June 2, 2006). "Cartel To Launch Fanclub, "Luckie St.", On June 13th". Retrieved July 26, 2015. 
  28. ^ Kohli, Rohan (May 24, 2006). "Cartel Live EP Track Listing". Retrieved July 26, 2015. 
  29. ^ Kohli, Rohan (July 28, 2006). "Cartel September Tour Dates". Retrieved July 26, 2015. 
  30. ^ Kohli, Rohan (November 22, 2006). "Fear Not, More Cartel Headlining Dates Will Be Announced". Retrieved July 26, 2015. 
  31. ^ Kohli, Rohan (March 3, 2007). "Cartel Music Video For "Say Anything (Else)"". Retrieved July 26, 2015. 
  32. ^ Futterman, Erica (September 28, 2005). "Cartel, 'Chroma' (The Militia Group)". Spin. Archived from the original on February 4, 2010. Retrieved July 26, 2015. 
  33. ^ a b Walsh 2007, p. 60
  34. ^ Jones, Evan C. (October 5, 2009). "Cartel Mounts Comeback After 'Bubble' Bust". Billboard. Retrieved July 26, 2015. 
  35. ^ a b "Cartel - Chart history (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved July 26, 2015. 
  36. ^ a b "Cartel - Chart history (Heatseekers Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved July 26, 2015. 
  37. ^ a b "Cartel - Chart history (Independent Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved July 26, 2015. 
  38. ^ "Cartel - Chart history (Pop Songs)". Retrieved July 26, 2015. 
  39. ^ "Cartel - Chart history (Digital Songs)". Retrieved July 26, 2015. 
  40. ^ "Cartel - Chart history (Hot 100)". Retrieved July 26, 2015. 
  41. ^ a b Sharp, Tyler (February 2, 2015). "Cartel announce 'Chroma' 10-year anniversary tour". Alternative Press. Retrieved June 21, 2015. 
  42. ^ Biddulph, Andy (February 3, 2015). "Cartel Are Going To Play Classic Album ‘Chroma’ In Full On Tour This Spring". Rock Sound Magazine. Retrieved July 26, 2015. 
  43. ^ Pierangelo, Hannah (February 3, 2015). "Cartel announce ‘Chroma’ 10 year anniversary tour". Retrieved July 27, 2015. 
  44. ^ a b Sharp, Tyler (April 16, 2015). "Cartel's "Honestly" certified Gold". Alternative Press. Retrieved July 26, 2015. 
  • Slessor, Dan (May 23, 2015). McMahon, James, ed. "Gigs". Kerrang! (London: Bauer Media Group) (1569). ISSN 0262-6624. 
  • Walsh, Chris M. (February 24, 2007). "Breaking the Bands: Who's Next?". Billboard (London: Nielsen Business Media, Inc.) 119 (8). ISSN 0006-2510. 

External links[edit]