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Aloha to you ALOHA fans...

Aloha
Home Acres
Polyvinyl Records, 2010
Reviewed by Kent Manthie

Well this is a nice surprise. Aloha has finally come into their own, so to speak. Home Acres is the third CD I’ve reviewed, which is when I got hip to the band. On previous CDs, Aloha seemed to be searching for a niche, a subgenre they could settle into and call their own. On Light Works, for instance, they have a great cross-section of indie delights, a scattered but cohesive formula for great music.
Home Acres is actually their 6th full length CD and 7th album, if you count their first release, the Nonbelievers EP. All I can really talk about is the last few CDs, their newest one, Home Acres, Light Works and Some Echoes, all of which are fine, fine albums. The former two are a bit flowery and poppish (better than foppish!), with jingle-jangle rhythms and spacey atmospherics that make for great stoner music. Although, I’m not sure that’s what main man Tony Cavallario had in mind, but then again, that’s how life, in general is: when you’re striving on purpose to make something sound or look or feel like a certain je ne sais quois it almost never happens – at least not at first try; if you are perfectionistically, anally intent on capturing whatever spirit you’re after you can try a zillion takes until you find it. But in the end it isn’t going to be that satisfying. Just like what Krishnamurti said about meditation, “Any form of conscious meditation is not the real thing: it can never be. Deliberate attempt to meditate is not meditation. It must happen; it cannot be invited. Meditation is not the play of the mind nor of desire and pleasure. All attempt to meditate is the very denial of it. Only be aware of what you are thinking and doing and nothing else.” I quote all that because that passage, from Krishnamurti’s Journal (J. Krishnamurti, Harper Collins San Francisco, 1982) is a very apt analogy when it comes to making the best music that you can come up with. Writing or almost any other art form is the same way – it must come to you through a sub- or un-conscious (despite what Sartre says about the unconscious) method.
Back to the music – Home Acres really blew me away when I first listened to it – I had actually just finished listening to Tarkus by E.L.P. when I switched over to Home Acres on my MP3 player and the percussion, rhythm, keyboards, guitars all seemed to coalesce together in a way that wasn’t superfluous and actually turned out to be the perfect follow-up to my listening to Tarkus that particular day. Now, of course, that kind of perfect juxtaposition could probably never happen again between those two albums, but that essence, that perfect balance that took place there was like Krishnamurti’s pontification about meditiation: that you can’t just go looking for it or sit in a lotus position and expect it to come, it has to arrive on its own, when you’re mind and body are ready for it.
Besides Tony Cavallario on vocals and guitars, the current line up also includes: TJ Lipple, who dabbles on the Mellotron, marimba and percussion, Matthew Gengler, who plays bass and our friend Cale Parks – the Cale Parks that’s made some cool solo records and who also plays in the incredibly awesome Joan of Arc, more of a collective than just a band. Parks plays drums and piano in Aloha.
I can’t really pick any one or two cuts that I think are above the others, since the whole album is a real treat. This time around Aloha has a edgier, louder beat, less ethereality and more of a driven, up-tempo kind of vibe going, but I will say that the song that starts off Home Acres, “Building a Fire” is the perfect way to start off a record – it’s catchy, it has a softness that is building up to something grand, which will make itself evident on the next cut, “Moonless March” a song with a kickin’ rhythmic percussive quality and that fuzzy bass as well as a carousel-like (Ray Manzarek, anyone?) keyboard sound to it. But one other good thing about the first couple tracks is that it isn’t that breathtaking that it drains away the effectiveness of the rest of the album. In looking for other cuts to make mention of, I would posit: “White Wind”, “Blackout” and “I’m In Trouble” as being worth mentioning. “Ruins” has a great effectiveness in closing off the album; just one more instance of the high quality of not only the songs but the continuity that ensues in the way they are laid out.
After all these CDs and the busy-ness of members with other projects, Aloha has managed to stay afloat lo these many years, probably due to the perseverance of Tony Cavallario, who writes the bulk of the songs. But it’s the whole that make up the greatness of the band, a team effort, if you will. With that I’m going to let you go listen to it and let it blow your mind. – KM

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