Review Summary: It's a box of chocolates, but luckily there's no coconut in any of them....
Eccentricity for an artist, musical or otherwise, is normally a well received and very marketable trait. People are always looking for something different to broaden their horizons and artists possessing this attribute have always been good avenues of approach. Todd Smith of Dog Fashion Disco fame has been making his bid for the eccentric artist hall of fame (very exclusive club) with his multitude of experimental, avant-garde projects. Aloha
, Smith’s latest from his El Creepo solo moniker is a strange creation. An eclectic, spastic collection of songs, Aloha
demands your attention and with the sheer variety of music on display here, you’d be hard-pressed not to listen through at least once.
Fans of Dog Fashion Disco should be able to see the congruences between that and El Creepo in terms of the experimental nature of both groups but make no mistake, Aloha
is its own animal. Save for a short bit in “Arabian Rose” nothing that could be called metal is shown here. The kind of music that is displayed however includes (wild) western, Arabic, Hawaiian, even big band. That is not to say Aloha
merely incorporates these styles into its songs, nay, it goes beyond that by having entire songs being written in these styles. Despite the ambitious nature of the album and sheer variety displayed here, the instruments are all surprisingly tight and well played. The guitar, horns, drumming, synths and every other nuance all seemingly convey the mood intended with Smith’s voice morphing nicely to match the style of each song. The songs themselves are nothing to laugh at either. These aren’t cheap knockoffs or imitations but well thought out, catchy and well executed works
The lyrics also were written to match the songs and they do the job well. In fact it matches so well that on more than one occasion they’ll venture into corny territory as evidenced from the western “Cottonwood River”. Honestly cheesy lyrics have never been a detractor for this reviewer but it will indeed be noticeable for some listeners. The strict adherence Smith displays in writing in the styles he does also can come off has artificial. One could easily see Smith checking off a list as the songs progress and this leads to a distinct lack of continuity for the record as a whole. Earlier it was mentioned that Aloha
was a collection of songs for a reason. Going from an Arabian sounding tune into a big band sounding one can turn the listener off very easily.
Most of the things wrong with this album are however, purely conceptual as the music itself is top notch, catchy, varied and above all good. Mr. Smith has an eccentric mind and the special talent to bring his thoughts into fruition. Fans of the experimental, avant-garde sound would do themselves a huge service in giving this a try.