April 20, 2009

"What A Shame About That Pier"

Operation Aloha - Operation Aloha
My Thoughts: Like ()

The story behind OA is that 14 people got the notion to fly out to Maui and spend some time in the sun and record an album. Those people were Olly Peacock , Dajon Everett & Ian Ball (Gomez), James Valentine & Jesse Carmichael (Maroon 5), Sam Farrar (Phantom Planet), Fil Krohnengold (All Spots To Black), Nadav Kahn (Kahn Brothers), Charles Danek & Will Nash (producers), Christopher Wray-McCann, Maureen Wray-McCann , Mathew Chaney, & Saam Gabbay (Photographers). Holy smokes there are a lot of big names on that list. Super groups really are "in" for 09.

Anyway, their goal was to capture the free spirit and tranquility of Hawaii itself. Using what sounds to be like a quite a few traditional Hawaiian instruments (there are certainly a few things on Rain that I don't think I've heard outside of the stuff by the Yoshida Brothers), these musicians craft their best efforts at ... well I'm not entirely certain what they've done here.

To be perfectly honest the whole thing sounded, and still does kind of sound, like something that I just would not be interested in at all. You talk about Hawaii, and I think of beaches, which makes me think of things like Jimmy Buffet and uncouth American tourists, which instantly turns me off. I also don't really like anything other than the song "Harder to Breathe" by Maroon 5. I'm a skeptic. I didn't want a rock album with some ukulele thrown in a la Adam Ant in episode 42 of Northern Exposure (i.e complete lack of cultural respect w/ a touch of egotistical move that is a thinly veiled attempt at trying to seem world-savvy). Thankfully that doesn't appear to be what we've got.

I would never claim to be an expert in traditional Hawaiian music, so as to whether or not they touch on that aspect of the tranquil spot that is Maui, I do not currently know, but, over all, the album doesn't seem to be as soothing as I think they may have wanted it, which is honestly fine with me. I'm not really one for ambient music, though I respect it, and I really think that is the kind of music that would really capture the essence of the musicians' goal.

So, after all that, because I can't really attach to the concept, I have to just put everything aside and look deep into my ears (ick, terrible mental image), and figure out whether or not I actually enjoyed the music. The short answer is: after a little while.

The album awkwardly reminds me of the Walkmen, in that it has these floating, spacey atmospheric sounds ambling about the edges of the album, which is helpful in the soothing sense, but its overall effect can sometimes be that it makes some of the songs sort of bleed together, and, in the end, I'm thinking the artists would prefer their songs to stand out. This is really only on a few tracks, and if you sit and pay attention to the tracks, you can get what the artists are going for. There are certainly more than a few songs that very much to stand out, for their own, interesting, reasons.

Some songs stick out because they don't, to me, seem to fit the theme of attempting to get out to Hawaii and do something new (that means I think some of the songs sound a little plain for the things they're trying to attempt) (Failure), or that the songs go to the level where I think they were really trying to go (Rain), or the lyrics really don't seem to fit the theme at all (Elephant Pharmacy). These things are not necessarily bad. The plain-ish ones are not really my type of music, but I can tell that other's will probably really attach to it. The ones where I feel they're really getting to what they want are the songs that I actually attach to most of all, so yeah, good on ya. And the ones that have perplexing lyrics are just kind of off putting, but still catchy.

So, what does all that mean? It means that not all of the songs were really up my alley, but that's because they sounded a little too standard-modern-rock-ish for me. But there were songs I really freakin dug. All of it was very masterfully composed and produced though. I recommend listening to many more songs from the album than what I'm providing below, because, as always, only you will really be able to tell whether or not it's for you.

There are a few songs I'd like to post (like Phone Booth and Rain), but I've been asked not to, but you can stream "Failure," not my favorite from the album but still a nice track, here right now:

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