(Lemon Merchant Records, CD)
What is it with Boston bands these days? Not to take an entire scene to task, but it seems what was once a town brimming with groundbreaking acts such as Morphine, The Lemonheads and The Pixies is now a milquetoast shadow of its former self. To be sure, there are exceptions. Pretty & Nice and Rubblebucket Orchestra spring immediately to mind — but then again, they’re both kinda from Vermont. Perhaps it’s the relatively small sampling of acts heading north on I-89 that unfairly paint Beantown in a vanilla shade. I mean, they can’t all be as bland as Roots of Creation and Girls, Guns & Glory, right?
Maybe. With their second effort, Fan the Fury, indie-rock outfit Aloud attempts to buck the dubious trend of flavorless Hub exports. The verdict: a rousing “meh.” (Cue shrugging shoulders and upturned palms.)
Though not for lack of talent, Aloud’s latest fails to inspire the sort of fist-pumping “fuck, yeah!” sentiment they’re seemingly going for — and are likely capable of. Lead vocalists and childhood pals Henry Beguiristain and Jen de la Osa share songwriting duties and make for well-matched musical sparring partners. But de la Osa wears the pants in this Sonny & Cher relationship. And to borrow a line from Wayne Campbell, “She wails.”
However, “wail” appears to be her primary setting. There’s no question the girl has monster pipes. From the moment she takes the reins on “The Last Time” through the bulk of the disc, she howls like the lost love child of Kim Deal and Patti Smith. That’s certainly not a bad thing. But a little contrast would add heft, as it does on the album’s standout title track.
Beguiristain is similarly saddled with a lack of vocal variety, but in a markedly different way. Too frequently, he comes off as a well-adjusted Evan Dando. Anyone who’s heard the head Lemonhead’s aptly titled 2003 solo album, Baby I’m Bored, knows what I’m getting at. Where de la Osa is guilty of delivering too many haymakers, Beguiristain delivers too few, jabbing his way to a sonic split decision.
Musically, Aloud suffers from a similar affliction. Though solid players, they scuffle between Strokes-ish retro rock and anthemic, U2-cum-Coldplay, reverb-washed jangle. Lacking true grit, Fan the Fury does anything but; it’s polished almost to a fault.
Aloud received a bit of blog buzz for a recent CMJ showcase performance. And I could believe they are better suited to the stage than the studio. Find out this Saturday at Burlington’s Radio Bean.