Sunday, July 18, 2010

Aloha Proves Once Again They Can Do No Wrong (Review of Home Acres)

Why more people aren’t worshiping the members of Aloha as our true musical lords and saviors is beyond me, but I suppose I can understand why they’re not for everyone. Nobody’s perfect, right? Well, nobody outside of Aloha, that is.

This is the mindset I was going in with for Aloha’s latest release in years, Home Acres. Granted, this is probably not the best mindset to go into for any kind of media unless you’re gearing for disappointment. So after years of waiting (and demanding an early copy from Polyvinyl Records that never came), this Holy Grail of the Gods of Modern Music arrived at my doorstep (if I had a doorstep). And it was…good. It wasn’t great, but it certainly was good. While I can’t hold it in the light of earlier releases such as Sugar or Here Comes Everyone, Home Acres still proves Aloha know what they’re doing and simply do not know how to make a bad record or even a bad song.

The album goes in a “heavier" direction than usual with louder, lower-pitched guitars and more driving bass lines and drums, as its original intended purpose was to be a companion to the band’s previous softer release Light Works. In this sense, the album works. It reaches for new fans with instantly catchy and memorable upbeat riffs and hooks on tracks like “Searchlight” and “Blackout” while still retaining Tony Cavallario’s signature thought-provoking dark lyrics.

As for the rest of the band, they’re as amazing as ever, with Matthew Gengler bringing back memories of John Entwistle whose bass is just as bright as any of the other instruments as long as you’re looking for it. Cale Parks is still the Cale Parks we’ve all come to know and love, an unstoppable tour de force whose drumming skills can hardly be topped in today’s music scene. Peoples’ ears should truly be drawn to the budding genius that is T.J. Lipple, though, as he invents even more new instruments and equipment such as a distortion device for the vibraphone heard throughout the album’s second single “Waterwheel.”

There is a definite welcome familiarity to the album as well. Influences ranging from Sonic Youth to the lesser known 80s group Felt dip bits of their sound and influence into tracks. Nothing ever feels like a rip-off or anything like that, mind you. Rather than feeling slightly peeved at the prospect of the band trying too hard to sound like someone else, these tracks felt more like a nod-of-the-hat to earlier influences, with the solo at the end of “I’m in Trouble” instantly coming to mind as a way of Cavallario channeling and thanking Lawrence Hayward for his ingenuity.

So was the album worth all the wait and rising tension in anticipation of its release? After another few months of listening, I can safely give a resounding “yes.” While it didn’t blow me away like I was expecting at first, its catchiness has safely found a spot sitting equally beside the rest of Aloha’s catalog. From the opening repetition of “Building a Fire” to the closing anthem of “Ruins,” Home Acres is a well-constructed album from start to finish deserving of praise that has a fair shot at being the best album 2010 has to offer.

P.S. - You can check out my interview with drummer Cale Parks over here.

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