ALO: Roses & Clover

By: Brian Heisler

This Santa Barbara-San Francisco quartet has become one of the fastest growing bands on the scene in the past couple years. With a little help from friend and colleague Jack Johnson, Animal Liberation Orchestra (ALO) has risen to the forefront of the live music scene and has taken the reigns as a national festival staple. Roses & Clover is ALO's second album on Johnson's Brushfire Records and it follows suit of the previous effort, Fly Between Falls, with great songwriting and catchy, funky tunes.

Roses & Clover kicks off with ALO's signature bright sound of keys and Zach Gill's voice on "Maria," a perfect way to begin the album. "You fill my cup and my body, too," Gill sings, reflecting the effect ALO's music has on the listener. With ALO on the box you really can't miss, any way they go. Their music is bound to be entertaining and likely offer a melody you walk away humming with a genuine smile.

"Try" is another gem soon to be sung by happy faces in a club near you. At times the synthesized vocals are hauntingly similar to Smashmouth's Steve Pederson, but fear not, it's a great sound that won't haunt you on adult contemporary radio. The simple guitar riff makes the song easy to follow and allow the keys to build between choruses. Horns accent the chorus, which rolls through smoothly with a bit more force than the rest of the song.

Just as "Barbeque" was a fan favorite on Fly Between Falls, "Plastic Bubble" is another bouncy, road-tested audience fave that made it onto Roses & Clover. So in between the hip new tracks, old fans can grasp a polished recording of an old favorite. Zach Gill offers up a ukulele part that forms the base of the song. Again, it's a feeling reminiscent to listening to ALO, as the world seems to stop while one is happily stuck in the band's groove as Gill sings, "Living in a plastic bubble and it's good."

The album gets "funky like JB" on "All Alone" and "Lady Loop" and levels out with the bittersweet "Water Song," which has a slow, somber feel that tuggs back and forth with a climbing jam and joyful middle verse.

While the jams are there, ALO revolves around creative songwriting and unique melodies that are upfront, obvious and never bury the story. ALO is great simply because its sound can be conducive to just about any mood. Whether joyous, remorseful, sad or any other mood ring shade, ALO somehow makes the difficult craft of hitting the right nerve seem very simple.

JamBase | California
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[Published on: 6/25/07]

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