Sound — 8
ALO (Animal Liberation Orchestra) is like a new generation of soft-pop and college-rock. Coincidentally, the four members met while attending the University of California Santa Barbara. Originally a 9-piece college jazz band, ALO (alomusic.com) was slimmed down to Zach Gill (keyboards, guitar, ukulele, vocals), Dan Lebowitz (guitar, lap steel, vocals), Steve Adams (bass, vocals), and Dave Brogan (drums, piano, Wurlitzer, vocals), with all members being able to sing lead and harmony vocals in addition to playing their instruments. The band's latest release Roses & Clover on Jack Jackson's label Brushfire Records offers folk-jazz slides recalling The Band, soft-pop melodies reminiscent of Shawn Mullins, and soul-funk that can be liken to G. Love and Rachel Yamagata. The jangly, upbeat tempo of Maria has wicked piano verses and the reggae hooks on Plastic Bubble are sweetened with funky ukulele strokes. Shine is a smooth soul ballad that radiates a Rachel Yamagata-glow and the folksy reggae molds on Try are catchy and have a sing-along attraction. The soft-pop keys and light funk rhythmic steps on All Alone have a groove with a similar traction to Califone and Lady Loop is propped with some wicked folk-rap ensnares that match G. Love. ALO's songs emblazon smooth funk along soft-pop tendencies. Produced by ALO, Robert Carranza, and Dave Simon-Baker, Roses & Clover is rich in soul-funk and soft-pop chambers and lightly sweetened with wicked interludes.
Lyrics — 7
ALO's lyrics are personal and personable so they not only relate to the band but also to people in general. Their lyrics are part of the reason why music fans are attracted to them. Their lyrics are positive and meant to lift peoples moods, like the song Try where all of the band members sing the lead vocals in harmony with each other, I appreciate her modesty/ It's positive, I know it's true/ When her modesty's talking negatively/ Everybody feels negative too/ Why she got to give in, a little bit of confidence/ Just believe in what she do/ You've got to try just a little bit harder/ And let it shine just a little bit brighter/ We've got to walk just a little bit taller/ 'Cause I could feel the sound and it's bringing me down. I could hear Barney the big purple dinosaur made for kids singing these lyrics. There is a simplicity to ALO's lyrical thinking and surprisingly it's an attitude that works.
Overall Impression — 8
ALO's tunes will add a little spring to this summer's music. They are a modern version of The Beach Boys with soft-pop melodies that are comfortable to drive along to and fun to listen to while lounging by the pool side. Their music puts images of romance in your mind and encourages you to enjoy life. There isn't one type of person that Roses & Clover is made for, it is generally for everyone who wants to feel good and not just for the summer time. The band's good nature is contagious and pretty much lasts all year round.