On the Verge: ALO

California natives ALO (Animal Liberation Orchestra) took some time off from ruling the west to join us here on the east coast in the WERS studio. Over their ten year span, the funky, jammy, poppy, rocky band have released eight studio albums, the latest four under Jack Johnson’s Bushfire Records. Their music features a great mix of styles and influences which can be heard through Dan “Lebo” Lebowitz’s guitar playing which can sometimes mix a funk, blues, and electric-pop types of sound. Zach Gill’s rough, yet somehow smooth, voice can be heard singing over Steven Adam’s bass and Dave Brogan’s drums to form a very complete and full sound.

ALO released their newest album this week, Sounds Like This. The guys are extremely excited to see what the feedback of the album will be, especially to see which songs people will be drawn to. “Storms and Hurricanes,” which they performed in studio at WERS during their visit, has been getting most fan’s attention so far. The song certainly is one of the high points of the album, featuring Gill on ukelele and sweet, loving lyrics like “As long as I got you/I can take what life gives out,” and “So when you hear these chords/know that I’ll be yours forever.” It’s easy to tell that ALO have been playing together a long time by how well all their sounds and instruments blend together so seamlessly.

The band is very well known for their incredible live shows and they tried to incorporate that more into Sounds Like This than they have on their past albums. Their name, Animal Liberation Orchestra, is drawn from their skill to play live, as one of their main goals as a band is to free people’s inner animals through music during their shows, “without wanting to sound too cosmic.” Many of the songs were written with the idea that they would be played live. They recognize this album as kind of coming “full circle,” and they “let the freak flag fly a little, let the songs be longer, and not trim it down as much.” This can be seen from the lengths of songs on the album, nine of eleven which are over five minutes, and three of which are over seven minutes. On this record “the jams flow and the songs are crafted… with a lot of sections.” They cite that they brought back some of the “electronic sounds, keyboard sounds, and dance grooves” that makes their independently released 2002 album Time Expander a fan favorite, which also helps bring the album full circle.

After taking a short break to prepare for the album release after February, ALO was quick to get back on the road and tour through the country while hitting some major festivals. They played South by Southwest in March and New Orleans Jazz Fest in April and will be playing Bonnaroo in Tennessee, Gathering of the Vibes in Connecticut, and the Life is Good Festival here in Canton, Massachusetts. The very friendly and personable guys will continue to tour the east coast throughout the year, jokingly comparing it to “running it like a war campaign.” ALO, a band On the Verge, may soon be well past that.

By Anthony Cantone Heinze

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