AWOLNATION, Wallpaper Warehouse Live August 5, 2011
How can one appropriately describe AWOLNATION? Truthfully, we're still asking ourselves that very question this morning. And we haven't made too much progress since Friday night's sold-out show at Warehouse Live's studio.
Here's one thought we've come up with since then: Had Trent Reznor never outgrown his early poppy, keyboard-based rock music, perhaps Nine Inch Nails would have sounded something like this as he discovered synthesizers, distortion, etc.
But he did outgrow it, and Nine Inch Nails took a much darker turn in the late '80s. AWOLNATION, it seems to us, is happy to fill the void left in the wake of Reznor's progression.
Aaron Bruno, the captain at the helm of the project, created AWOLNATION as a reason to work at Red Bull studios, and since has crafted many distinctive sounds by overly distorting his vocals above an eclectic mix of synthetic, alternative and even indie rock. Sometimes he raps, too.
We know it sounds silly, but it all comes together surprisingly well.
The music isn't so listener-friendly that everyone will like it, of course. And to be honest, we're still not quite sure how we feel about it. What we do know is that Bruno put on a stellar performance, and most of the songs were either catchy enough or appealing in other ways that we have decided to look into the band's music further.
Some songs such as "Sail" and "Guilty Filthy Soul" were right up our alley, even though the two are drastically different. Others though, like "Burn It Down," felt like musical blue balls - the song just never got where we wanted it to go.
But the band, as a whole, is worth looking into. If nothing else, there's a lot of potential here, and we look forward to hearing Bruno's sophomore release, which he is writing on the band's current tour.
Before AWOLNATION, Wallpaper put on one of the most refreshing and energetic performances we've seen in quite some time. Two singers, one male and one female, were accompanied onstage by a drummer, where the three of them danced, sang and
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The female vocalist, whose voice sounded both feminine and raspy at the same time, especially got the crowd going as she danced around onstage to the beat of her drummer, coaxing the crowd into doing the same.
We didn't have quite as much room as she did onstage, but we all did our best.
One of Wallpaper's songs is called "FUCKINGBESTSONGEVER." And we love bands who don't take themselves too seriously. It's refreshing.
It was bluesy, soulful and, at times, even somewhat hip-hop. But similar to AWOLNATION, they put on such a strong performance that their genre couldn't have mattered less. Everyone in attendance just wanted to dance and have a good time.
And dance, we did.
Personal Bias: Leave your genre at the door, kiddos. At these kind of shows, you never know what it's really going to sound like song to song. And that's half the fun.
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Overheard In the Crowd (During Wallpaper): "He kind of sounds like Justin Timberlake."
Random Notebook Dump: AWOLNATION never planned to release "Sail" as a single from their first EP. A radio station in Austin specifically requested to play it and, a few weeks later, when the group visited Austin, there was a line wrapped around the venue waiting to get in. So, understandably, they decided it was a good idea to make "Sail" their single.