Artist: Arlo Aldo
Release Date: February 5, 2013
Sunday mornings are pleasant. After the fireworks and raucousness of Saturday night, the still streets and rhythmic bird chirps under the (after)noon sun are nature’s way of medicating the cobwebs out of your head. For those that want to add a bit of spice to their comedown, you can always accompany your eggs benedict with an overstuffed Bloody Mary and guarantee that a boozy nap will be in your future.
Arlo Aldo is a Sunday morning. Every note is perfectly pleasant, every harmony relaxes your eardrums, and every song breezes by, zephyr-like and cool. Arlo Aldo swims in the alt-country waters first treaded by bands like Blue Mountain and Drive-By Truckers. Arlo Aldo, however, puts the emphasis on the country side of the equation, employing boy/girl harmonies and never fearing to put a twang on every chorus.
Zelie opens up with “Lullabye,” which is more of a waking song than a sleeping song. The acoustic guitar and brushed drums evoke the sunrise shining through broken blinds more than the deep purple sky dotted with stars. On the third track, “Josephine,” Arlo Aldo asks for a Bloody, buddy. The drums pick up, the guitars suddenly awaken from their slumber, and the harmonies from keyboardist Ariel Nieland weave around lead singer David Manchester’s vocals like the prettiest morning fog dancing around the tallest oak tree in the park. Although the track lacks the edge of a Bloody Mary, it reaches Mimosa heights. Not quite as intoxicating, but still tasty enough to give your head a slight buzz.
From this point on, Zelie continues Arlo Aldo’s modus operandi with delicate guitars, sweet harmonies, and slow-to-midtempo tunes. Things pick up on “Ghost of the Union Pacific,” the album’s highlight, where the band does its best Johnny and June impression with freight-train-comin’ drums and boy/girl intertwining vocals.
When you gather with your buddies at the bar on Monday night, the question invariably will pop up, “What’d you get into this weekend?” The answers will revolve around the festivities of Saturday night with short shrift given to Sunday morning. This is not to denigrate Sunday mornings; in fact, most weekends Sunday morning is the underdog highlight. It’s just that Saturday night is so much sexier and more intriguing when shooting the breeze over a pint. Arlo Aldo can be an underdog highlight on your iTunes playlist, but they lack the edge that their alt-country forefathers Uncle Tupelo and Old 97s brought to the genre that make you stop and pay attention. The songs are pretty, the harmonies are sweet, and the band is tight, but can someone pour a PBR into their complimentary Mimosa?