Sounds Like This
Brushfire Records, 2012
REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 06/25/2012
I think we would all benefit from being more versed in California genre-defying rockers ALO. Having released critically praised albums every two to three years since 1998, the band, though mainstream success has eluded them, has never enjoyed a stronger bond with their cult following. After being aligned with friend and label owner Jack Johnson since 2007, they broadened their fanbase remarkably and began to see college radio play. Endless touring has solidified them as one of the most respected experimental bands that exists today.
Here, the band moves towards a more jam-based sound with plenty of pop flavor. Their work is always laid back and the heavy use of keyboard really adds to the songs, often in a throwback to the ‘70s fashion. Though the disc is nearly an hour long, because ALO are so skilled at blending so many genres into their songs, the tracks vary so much in texture that the duration of the disc never has you checking your watch.
The retro influence is probably the most apparent aspect here, with “Speed Of Dreams” sounding as if it could easily be penned in the ‘60s. “Blew Out The Walls” has the band cultivating a groove from the ‘70s, containing a memorable disco beat throughout. But there’s still plenty of trademark ALO to be found here: “Dead Still Dance” and “Combat Zone” are their textbook style with high energy and flow, and the disc closes on two long songs that do a great job of encompassing the band’s live, impromptu stylings.
ALO has come a long way since their original name Animal Liberation Orchestra in the early ‘90s. Though the list of similar bands is getting longer, ALO is and always has been among the most sophisticated and relevant of the genre. A career highlight here, this is grab bag of funk, pop, and rock ‘n’ roll that you can dance to.