It’s strangely fitting that the band who created the album Some Echoes chose the name Aloha, widely known as a word which means both hello and goodbye in Hawaii. The Cleveland-formed, yet now living in various locales, four-piece has gone from post-rock to crafty pop over the course of its history with ease, culminating in one of the finest compositions of their career. But, just like their name, even this single album has multiple facets within itself. Upon the release of Aloha’s last album, Here Comes Everyone, my brother expressed feeling guilt over not liking Aloha enough, noting that he was a fan of the band, but until that particular album he hadn’t given them overdue end-of-the-year kudos. With Some Echoes, again employing the mastering expertise of Chad Clark, Aloha ups the ante yet again.
No one single influence can be isolated on any part of Some Echoes. Songs are complex mosaics, mixtures of sounds that very nearly make possible single references unrecognizable. At times, you’ll tend to scratch your head at wondering who Aloha remind you of, only to go away more confused than when you started. Tony Cavallario’s voice is so naturally soft and beautiful, he would easily fit right in with either today’s folk singer / songwriters such as Elliott Smith (R.I.P.) or Sam Beam, or in the ’60s with Colin Blunstone or Arthur Lee. That dichotomy of sound is evident in the music of Aloha as well. Specific songs can reflect the chamber pop glory of Matt Pond PA, the intricate hooky sound meets muddled lyrics of the Shins, or the delicate emotional depth and breadth of Sebadoh while also finding psychedelic roots in the music of the Zombies or the Kinks.
Drummer Cale Parks, formerly the skinsman for Cex and Joan of Arc, stretches out in the six and a half minute opener, “Brace Your Face.” The percussion almost overtakes every other sound on the song, including the staircase climb and descent of the keyboards and Cavallario’s breathy vocals. The longest song on the record is then followed by the shortest, “Big Morning.” Echoes of Supertramp abound on “Your Eyes,” with the band’s patented marimba perfectly complementing a Yes-inspired vocal performance, which then leads into “Icestorming” making a perfect combo. “Icestorming” is like Zach Rogue fronting Death Cab for Cutie covering a Rogers Waters Wall era tune. The result is summed up in Cavallario’s own lyric, “The deer and I stay to witness the beauty / Suspended in still life, no matter how scary.” Another stunner, “Between the Walls” is like Iron & Wine doing Neutral Milk Hotel, especially with the fantastic lyric that echoes both, “Are we dying as in dead, or are we born again?” The Zombies really make their influence apparent on “Come Home” with ’60s percussion and “Time of the Season”-like vocals. More psychedelia pervades with the magnificent “Summer Lawn” with piano and keyboards intertwining to great effect.
Now on their fourth album, it seems the name of the game for Aloha is consistency. That’s not to say that the band is stuck in a rut, just the opposite. With every succeeding album finding Aloha in new territories of rock compositional mastery, the band finds itself pushing the limits of what is `their sound.’ What is consistent is that each album is reliably good. At this point, based on their recent history, I would venture to say you could pick up a future album from Aloha, songs unheard, and undoubtedly be satisfied with the result. Some Echoes is a heady brew; a beautiful concoction of masterful percussion, feather-light vocals and elaborate song structures that are sure to please even the hardest-hearted listeners.