All things Aloud
April 1, 2009 § 2 Comments
by Anthony Pilgrim
photo by Mick Murray
“It’ll only get worse in the coming days
I might as well say what I been meaning to say”
Aloud- Fan The Fury
If there’s ever been a true statement made about the times, it’s that they are a changing. This counts, if not doubly, for the status of popular music. Now, in what may be the golden age of free exchange and the stuck-pig bleeding out of all things wicked and major, rock and roll has been handed over to the unwashed masses and put through filters of digital shimmer, effect pedal fuzz, and mash up remixes. But through the evolutions and abortions of the sacred songs, the fact remains solid that the first time the young split the pop culture bill with the squares of the generation before them can be traced back a four piece – two guitar, bass, and drum set up that caused riots in Germany and a series of swooning epidemics. Throughout the decades there has remained a thin line of defense for this tradition, and set up in our very own city by the bay is one of the finer modern examples: Cambridge-based Aloud.
The band, now eight year veterans of the just-under-the-surface scene, show their progress in their catalog of recordings and in their live performances. Though the band has gone through different incarnations, the main stead of Jen de la Osa and Henry Bejuristain tag team vocal/guitar/lead vocals have kept the focus through the years. Founded in a one-bedroom apartment on Beacon Street the band began their recording profession with their premier EP The Sooner it Comes. The 6 song polished garage album shows the band’s evolving potential slightly buried under first-try guitar mud, drum echo, and fuzz vocals. The influence of the 90s glory days is heard in the Nirvana/Weezer hooks, and no one song really sticks out as a single. But despite the tell-tale freshman signs, the album is better than your average first shot. de la Osa has a voice that cuts through the mix in the good times, and in the better times mixes into the fuzz for a Distorto de Melodica. The album is good show of the band’s roots. It’s solidly listenable, at times heartbreaking, and as good of a starting line as a band could manage.
2006’s Leave Your Light On, takes a step up in recording quality and shows that the band had the chops to come out of the cover of garage feedback. Jen’s voice still holds its quality but the album gives Bejuristain a chance to show what he can do. He cuts through the best on the tracks “Palm of Your Hands” and “Bleeding Heart”, with his voice taking on a Jacob Dylan quality. The rest of the album steps up with the vocals; with the distortion used more to fill up the empty space rather than cover the tone and the drums volume increased but beat remaining steady. The album in all has a heavy Oasis feel to it, without faux-British accents. The album also shows the definite single with the vocal driven “Beaches”, a confident straight rock ‘n roll song with de la Osa’s power points including some soul to the mix.
Whatever happened between 2006-2008 remains slightly vague. But whether it be personal problems or the grind felt by the country in general, it seemed to break de la Osa and Bejuristain’s hearts. With these broken hearts, the once self-confident and strong-backed musicians bled out their latest release, 2008’s Fan the Fury, a dire, angry, desperate, and beautifully somber collection of songs. From the albums begging self-loathing track “Sometimes I Feel Like a Vampire” to the Generation Y call for vengeance in “When the Ants Attack the Queen” the album loses the youthful confidence of the previous two releases, gaining a truly heart on the sleeve feeling that a rock album must have to get deserving recognition.
This album has been the focus of the band’s latest East Coast tour of college pubs, in-studios, and dive bars including Worchester’s Ralph’s diner, a geek/freak retro establishment where platinum cards are no good and the background track consists of songs in the I-heard-that-one-band-cover-it-but-this-is-the-original-that-was-the-B-side-that-never-reached-the-states-persuasion. The bands live shows are the true testament to the hours they have spent grinding the indie scene. There is no hesitation, stage jitters, or missed notes from the band. Jen and Henry lean back to back at times and when not singing swagger around the stage and cause minor property damage. Backing them up on this tour is temporary rhythm section Jonathan Schmid on drums and Ryan Majoris on bass, who are true pros who shoulder the weight of the rhythm and allow the two leads to do what they do. The set list consisted of strictly Fan the Fury tracks and explanations such as the memorable and empathetic “When five dollars is a high cover charge…this one’s called ‘Hard up in the 2000s’”.
Though the band is straight-as-arrow rock and rollers, they are in no way paranoid of the new ways of promotion and presentation. De la Osa and Bejuristain are avid bloggers on subjects pertaining to band activity to the newest Youtube/Family Guy gags that have been keeping their spirits up. The band also is one of the few local acts to add a true flair to their live shows, with the for-now one time “I Just Want a Witness” performance. The performance is a live concert production that re-imagines Fan The Fury created by Jonathan Carr, which includes the band playing the album to a synched up original movie. The production shows that the old guard can still have new tricks and proves Aloud’s worth in the brave new world of music.
Aloud is, through all the experiment, mood swings, and live shows, a rock band by the Webster’s definition. Their trick is that they’re aware of where and when they are and embrace the warts as well as the gold of the times. They are a statement that through all the bells and whistles at work on music, the heart of American youth remains in the 4 piece, verse-chorus-verse, kids in their mom’s basement and under furbished practice space, rock and roll ideology.