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Aloha: Also Means Hello

 story by tim mcmahan



Lazy-i: Feb. 14, 2007

w/ Sparta, Mewithoutyou
Thursday, Feb. 22, 9 p.m.
Sokol Underground
13th and Martha

Very rarely does a critic get a chance to apologize for missing the mark in a review.

Two or three years ago, one local music critic who shall remain nameless discarded Aloha's Here Comes Everyone as a limp version of Dismemberment Plan. "…Things get lost in the complicated changes, and suddenly you wonder if there is a plan beneath the melody or if it's just noodling. Nothing vocalist Tony Cavallario sings so tunefully catches my ear or interest enough to either remember or want to listen to again."

And with that, he moved on. But he never deleted the album's tracks from his iPod, and that's how Aloha crept back into his psyche -- as random track after random track dropped into shuffle mode. Who's that? Huh. It's Aloha. Thought I deleted that. A few days later. What's this? Aloha again. And again and again, as if the iPod were trying to tell him how wrong he was. Over the course of two years of listening to the record, he realized that he'd blown the assignment. Here Comes Everyone turned out to be one of the better CDs of 2004.




Saying I was sorry (yes, it was me) was easy. Cavallario graciously accepted the apology. "I can tell you that you're not the first reviewer that has reached out to us and said, 'I misjudged you,'" he said from his home in Rochester, New York. "It's happened a lot over the past four years, and it really says something about our band. For some reason, our music doesn't hit people right away."

It might be because Aloha's music isn't easy to grasp on first listen. The four-piece's sound is deceptively simple, but repeated plays pay dividends, thanks to their intricate counter melodies and almost proggy sense of structure that recalls classic art rockers like Genesis and new indie turks like Karate. The thread holding it together is Cavallario's breathy, lullaby coo, reminiscent of Dismemberment Plan's Travis Morrison . Some Echoes, the band's latest album, released last April on Polyvinyl, continues in the same vein, but with more tuneful results.

I couldn't help thinking that maybe my apology was unnecessary. After all, what were the odds that Cavallario actually read the original review? Turns out that he had. He reads a lot of music criticism. "I don't live in a vacuum. I read Pitchfork and Dusted and Coke Machine Glow and blogs and try to read every review I can," he said. When it came to the new record, his only concern from Pitchfork -- the bible of indie rock criticism -- was that its rating eclipsed Here Comes Everyone's 7.2 out of 10.

"My wife called while we were on tour and told me the score was 8.0. The number was important to me -- I just wanted it to be higher than the last one. I don't want to sound like a sap, but it's a privilege to do music and have someone give a shit enough to think about it to write a review. Most people who have everyday jobs never get any feedback."

Cavallario said ultimately it doesn't matter what a critic in New York City says when your playing Columbia that night, and having a good time. "I know a lot of bands that can sell out 1,000-capacity theaters who haven't received a good review in five years."

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Published in The Omaha Reader Feb. 14, 2007. Copyright © 2007 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.










"I don't want to sound like a sap, but it's a privilege to do music and have someone give a shit enough to think about it to write a review."