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Austin Sound - The Independent Music Source for Austin » Featured Story Sound Reviews » The Alice Rose - All Haunt’s Sound (SR)

The Alice Rose - All Haunt’s Sound (SR)

By Marc Perlman • May 7th, 2009 • Category: Featured Story, Sound Reviews

The Alice Rose, one of the tens (if not hundreds) of power-pop bands currently floating around Austin, pose an interesting dilemma for fans, promoters/booking agents, and critics alike. Live they cross over to some of Austin’s seediest punk clubs where a great bar band playing ferocious power pop is welcome while also still being accepted in more innocuous haunts serving up adult modern rock. The quintet isn’t apt to cater their set or sound to the club and other bands on the bill; they just have enough edge to be welcomed into the dark or perhaps they lack enough edge to be invited into the light. On their sophomore album, All Haunt’s Sound, this conundrum has never been more evident and – for better or worse – the band chooses to shoot out of the dive bars and aim for radio stardom.

From the get-go on the album opener, “She Did Command”, the decision to appeal to the masses and make a tight studio album is completely evident. The album starts out less with a bang and more with a whimper. When JoDee Purkeypile sings, “C’mon join the party/4 am against the wall,” it’s hard to want to be at the party. Where as Cheap Trick got your ass shaking, your fist pumping, and the beer flowing, The Alice Rose seems content to just chug along like wallflowers at a cocktail hour. Sadly, throughout the album, this lack of energy and spook (for lack of a better description) is consistently missing. To be completely honest, maybe it’s just the beer and hazy nights clouding this critic’s memory, but live there were a lot of blistering guitar solos, pounding drums, and ferocious vocals. The album on the hand, is laced with moments like on “Waste Away” and “Agony Aunt” where the backing vocals and harmonies sound great, but the band never swaggers and soars. Instead, it just rolls over until “Maybe A Rise,” where Brendan Rogers’ keyboards and Sean Crooks and Greg White’s guitars finally lock in and provide the album’s best moment.

With every track solidly around the three to four minute marks, it’s hard not to appreciate The Alice Rose’s radio rock attempts on All Haunt’s Sound. Austin has a lot of bands that are good on the stage and horrible in the studio or vice versa. The Alice Rose is, fortunately, one of the few who actually succeed on both fronts, but the dichotomy is jarring. This band should appeal to fans of The Shins, Spoon, and Coldplay among others; it should also excite fans of the aforementioned Cheap Trick, Squeeze, Sloan and legions of new power pop rock groups. Instead, the album documents a band that is trying so hard to create a perfect studio gem that it lost what makes its live sound so invigorating. The drums snap, the guitars jangle, and the vocals soar on songs like “I Know Your Ghost” and “Easter Anne,” but it just feels a little too flat, a little too friendly, a little too nice – the short and long of it is the rock and roll seems to be missing. In its place, the listener is left with a solid album of potential; a band that with a few more hooks or a few more risks would go from good to great; an album not quite fit for blasting in the car with the windows down yet not quite ripe for a lazy hammock day. It’s not every day that a band shows the potential, so there’s hope that The Alice Rose move the dial slightly one way or the other and figure out how to transfer the studio to the stage or the stage to the studio. Until then, it’s hard not to wonder what if.

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11 Responses »

  1. Mr. Perlman’s review is hardly a hatchet-job on the Alice Rose or their record. I think it is fairly sympathetic. His assessment of their dilemma is not far off. However, the band’s creative aims are evident and have been consistent from their debut onward. No written manifesto should be needed to understand that a certain purity of song is and has been the desired end. The “power pop” tag is misplaced. None of those genre-specific trappings are present. There’s no gimmickry at all, and so the sheer density of some tracks may be lost on the layman. No matter. The Alice Rose records are models of pop certitude. (Incidentally, I’ve never seen a band more adept at duplicating their own records live).

  2. i think this person is in the band!!!

  3. I think it’s a very good album. Maybe not as memorable as Phonographic Memory, but it’s still full of great songs. You don’t even mention the songwriting. It’s no good just rambling on about how the album doesn’t have blistering guitar solos or pummeling drums- gimme a break. Motley Crue probably has a new album out- that’s more in your league, buddy. Oh, and who the hell are Brandon & Sam? Last time I checked their names are Sean and Brendan. Too bad you were too busy trying to rock out to than to read the credits. My 15 year old daughter can write rings around this amateur.

    3/5

  4. I think the second poster is the author!!!

  5. Steven,
    For what it’s worth, Doug (the editor of AustinSound) did update the names of The Alice Rose for me. I got careless and would love to blame it on the tiny font in the liner notes (or because I was looking for more rock), but I won’t.

    On a related note: I did talk about the song writing; I said I thought it was a little too flat, a little too nice, a little too friendly and that I thought the songs needed a few more risks and hooks. If flat out stating that the album is solid and has potential doesn’t put it in the 3 stars out of 5 range that you’re suggesting, I don’t really know what does. Maybe you construed my review to be a 1 star, but we’re not asked to provide ratings and — if I had to — I would have suggested 2.5 out of 5. Like everything in my album review implies: It’s good, but not great. So, what exactly are you complaining about?

    Finally, we *are* amateur critics here at AustinSound. If your daughter can write, have her get in touch. I just hope her reading comprehension and knee jerk reactions are a little bit better than yours.

  6. @Steven: A 3/5 album moved you to write a comment negatively comparing a critic (of an admittedly mediocre album) to your 15 year old daughter? Usually a 3/5 album moves me to delete it from my iTunes two weeks later.

    Also: “Too bad you were too busy trying to rock out to than to read the credits”? I hope your daughter’s command of the English language fell further from the tree than did that sentence. Last time I checked, it’s difficult to “rock out to the credits” - get them prepositions under control, boss.

  7. Wow….mean folks on here.

  8. @Pastor: They’re downright saintly compared to most internet commentators.

  9. That’s frightening:) Thanks, Evan.

  10. I do have to say that the first poster is not in this band. Mike Molnar is a member of The Jungle Rockers. They have an archived interview here on Austin Sound. Great group!!

  11. Hey Alice Rose. Don’t change a thing. Don’t cater — and I’m sure you won’t:)

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