I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for Aloha. Just like The Poster Children, Quasi and The Pernice Brothers, they’re a band whose newest record I’ll always buy and whose songs I’ll consistenly enjoy. Yet, they never make my year-end lists or compel me to spout feverish hyperbole when describing their albums. I feel guilty for not liking them enough, even if I do enjoy them and have paid for their records.
But that might change. Aloha’s third album, Here Comes Everyone, just might be the one to push them a tier or two higher in my own personal “favorite bands” hierarchy. One of the things I’ve always liked about Aloha is their uniqueness. Nobody really knows what to call them, as they tend not to adhere to one singular category. “Post-rock” is the term that most throw around in describing them, for lack of a better term. And similarities to bands like Tortoise and The Sea and Cake would lead one to believe in its accuracy. But there’s so much more to Aloha.
The first immediately stirring moment on Here Comes Everyone is the opening track, “All the Wars,” one of the most “rock” sounding songs on the album. The trademark marimba is present, as are the jazzy textures with which Aloha laces their sound. And yet, it seems to rock just a little bit harder. This pattern holds true for the duration of the album. While Here Comes Everyone is clearly an Aloha album, there’s just a little bit more of everything. Maybe it’s the complex harmonies of “Summer Away.” Or, perhaps it’s the ethereal ambience of “Be Near.” Or, by chance, it just might be the bluesy drum stomp and heavy rhodes treatment of “Boys in the Bathtub.” And perhaps it’s all of these. Every song sees Aloha taking their music to a higher level, one that sees them shedding their “reliable old standby” tag for that of “compelling, artistic genius.”
It’s up for debate, of course, but my opinion of the band is leaning strongly toward the latter. Though the first five songs all show definite growth within the band, the longer you listen, the better it gets. “Water Your Hands,” in particular, is a remarkable piece of music. The ringing keyboard and marimba almost replicate the sound of water in their harmonic opacity. “I Don’t Know What Else to Do” is also outstanding, compressing a Dave Brubeck-like melody into a waltzing four minute pop song. All of these tracks will probably do little to shake the “post-rock” tag that typically follows Aloha around, but at the very least, it may finally see them recognized as artists who are among the best in the genre.
Aloha has never been a band to stick to the conventions of any particular genre and that hasn’t changed with Here Comes Everyone. Though it may have made them an underdog in underground music, Aloha has consistently broken the rules and done their own thing. But it’s finally paid off. By refining their own unique sound, Aloha has created the best album of their career.
Stereolab – Cobra and Phases Group Play Voltage in the Milky Night
The Sea and Cake – Oui
Karate – Unsolved
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.