Saturday, June 11, 2011

Alright Alreadies-s/t EP (2010)

 So, a few years into the second Bush term, we all went a little too far with that whole drone/ambient noise thing, and the corrective (chastisement?) is this beach-surf-garage-revival we're weathering right now.  It's hard to stay awake for most of this stuff. Beach House doesn't count, for several reasons, while Best Coast is a bad joke that only native Californians can be excused for taking seriously (did anyone else notice how they stole the opening drum fill of "Boyfriend" from The Boss' "Badlands"?). Tennis squandered the immense potential displayed on the "Marathon/Baltimore" demo with the well-nigh-comatose "Cape Dory" LP. This wave will no doubt crest while we're at the beach in July and August, after which we'll self-correct for an appropriately somber September, with a little Tuvan throat singing.

  Which brings us to the Alright Alreadies, a lean mean surfin' machine outta, you guessed it, Chicago. One of the saving graces of the Windy City is its lack of pretension: we're stuck in the midst of corn fields, the weather sucks, and no one's gonna notice us anyway, so why get too highbrow? The Alright Alreadies just rock out, and manage to make beach music fun again. This tape opens with "Deep End," a charmingly rambunctious surf tune that begins with a perfectly succinct dual-guitar line. Maggie, the singer, sounds fuckin' tuff, like Shangri-Las tuff, and can handle the syncopated vocals, a welcome surprise that are sprinkled throughout the EP.

   One of the things that sets this tape apart from most garage rock I've heard is the balanced mix: the band knows how to construct a rock tune, and whoever recorded it knew what they were doing. None of the instruments takes precedence for very long, and they flow together very well: the drums introduce the vocals, which are offset by the guitar, which open on a little bass bump.... If you listen to the EP on headphones, the drums really jump out at you, especially on "Freak Out" and "Aquarium:" the sound is big not abrasive, huge not aggressive-very Phil Spector.
The last and longest song, "Aquarium," is the peak: it opens with a romping drum roll that segues into a sweet guitar riff  that surfs along above the rhythm section. One of the weird things about many of the recent beach groups is their heavy use of distortion: even on a stand out tune like Tennis' "Marathon," the guitar in the chorus is so distorted and tinny that it mars the song. Dust off your Dick Dale vinyl, though, and the guitar is clean-same with a group like the Ventures. Alright Alreadies seem to have remembered this, and it really pays off on "Aquarium." The guitar is there, but in the background, so that the surf notes cascade around the rest of the band, instead of washing everything out in a quagmire of distortion. The band is so tight, you can imagine them playing in one of those 60s music videos where the band bobs their heads in unison.
"Rage it with the Alright Alreadies, bro!"

  Give it a gander, and I think you'll agree with Mr. Spicoli: "Awesome! Totally awesome!..."
Then, use the change from that bag of schwag ya just bought, and pick up the cassette from Priority Male Tapes.

No comments:

Post a Comment