I don’t know about you, but I’m extremely sick of the term Neo-Folk. Especially when it’s applied to bands like Mumford and Sons that force there way into the Folk genre by simply adding a banjo player to the band. Folk music never really went away, so how can it make a resurgence? It’s just become harder to find bands that actually FIT into the genre these days.
However, bands like Milwaukee’s Animals In Human Attire (Jack Tell, Myles Coyne) give me hope for folk music today. AIHA’s songs don’t always fit perfectly into the folk mold but they manage to channel its spirit and attitude while also drawing heavily from indie-rock, alternative, and even noise rock.
Last May brought about the release of their latest album Ourmegadawn, 8 new songs that cement their eclectic style but don’t stray too far from their folk roots.
The album kicks right into the extremely catchy “Antfarm”. Singer Jack Tell’s vocal delivery is equal parts Jack White and Neil Young. It grabs your attention and before you know it the song has built to a raucous jam session of electric guitar, drums, and folk instruments.
“South Pole Mountain Song” is an upbeat song with some brilliant instrumentation. Tracks like this show off the noisier rock side of the band. Around three minutes in the track builds to a wall of noise then comes back down for a minute and a half long jam, eventually ending in bits of tape noise and feedback.
The noise rock influence continues into the next track “Sun Machines” another that defies the band’s “folk” sound in favor of a more atmospheric indie feel. Lyrically, the song mirrors the album’s cover art and title by painting a compelling story of robot domination and destruction. It’s a landmark of the album, and a hard track to ignore.
A crunchy distorted guitar leads the intro of “Windwaker”, a song title I can only hope and assume is a reference to the Legend of Zelda video game. The Math-rock guitars do evoke a certain fantasy-like imagery.
Flipping to the B-side is “Hell” a more down-tempo number that has a jazzy saunter to it that builds into an alt-country rocker by the half-way point.
“Breaking Point” is another slower tune that will most likely have you tapping your foot a bit more than banging your head.
Here’s the point that you remember that these guys do play folk music from time to time. “Cathexis” is led by a catchy bit of banjo that carries the song forward and eventually explodes into a fast-driving instrumental bridge. It became an instant favorite of mine the first time I heard it.
The band puts everything they have into in the final track on Ourmegadawn. “Sleep Talking in Uneven Dreams” is a straight-up pop-rock hit. It’s fast, it’s fun, it’s bouncy, and it has layers upon layers of instruments that create a wonderful soundscape that demands your attention.
It’s hard to find a negative thing to say about this album. I’ve been told my reviews are often too positive but I’d like to think of that as a good problem to have. AIHA have built upon their 2011 self-titled release in such a way that I can’t help but love every minute of it. Ourmegadawn succeeds on many levels. The band has become stronger songwriters, arrangers, and musicians in the three short years between albums. The resulting album is something that is accessible for almost any music fan regardless of your musical tastes.
Stream and download the album via bandcamp and pick up a Limited Edition Cassette Tape or CD copy for only $7.