Sometimes I think our beloved editor and all around swell dude, Michael, doesn't even bother giving our promo records a listen. Case in point: Awake and Alert’s Devil in a Lambskin Suit. So Michael sees a plain CD with the name "Awake and Alert" and he thinks to himself, "This is probably another positive melodic straight edge hardcore band that Jason sadly seems to live on, I'll just throw this into his package and he will love me for it." Michael sits back for a moment sighs and once again muses, "Some days, all I need is Jason's love."
Arizona's Awake and Alert is a positive melodic hardcore band...if we lived on the Bizarro planet. Or maybe I forgot to mark my calendar and its opposite day. Awake and Alert are mellowed out poppy indie rock band that would probably find a decent home on Equal Vision Records or Jade Tree Records. The opener on Devil in a Lambskin sets the tone of the album with slow atmospheric ditty ripe with jangley guitars, a piano, and soulful vocals provided by one Maya Peart. I am reminded of Radiohead at their worst or Saosin at their best as Maya's vocals propel the rest of the twelve tracks that run to gambit of snail paced ballads to mid-tempo slightly 90's Dischord rockers. If you said Awake and Alert sounded like Denali, I would not fight claims of that either.
Everything on Devil in a Lambskin Suit is meticulously laid out as nothing on the album seems out of place. All its pristine sheen is a bit much for someone to stomach as I hear a dancey drumbeat here, some violins there, and oh look a Hammond organ. It looks like Awake and Alert put on this album to garner some attention from some bigger labels, which I'm sure was the game plan all along. It sometimes feels forced and overplayed. There are no mistakes on Devil in a Lambskin Suit but there are also no stabs at excitement either. Devil in a Lambskin Suit makes you content like a good bowl of soup, but it's the same bowl of soup you've had since you were four years old. It's hearty, warms your soul, but sometimes you mom would just toss in some pepper into the pot.
Awake and Alert are good at what they do. I'm sure people into female-lead indie pop rock hoping to grasp that brass ring would probably be more into this than I. I tend to like my music a bit more racy, a lot more heavy, and of course more, uh, hardcore. I would probably only listen to Alive and Awake to impress my Uptown girlfriend because she couldn't stand an hour of Lifetime in her car. And since it's her car...yeah we've all had that argument before. If you expect me to give this the token, "this isn't hardcore" review then you might want to stop reading now because I enjoyed Devil in a Lambskin Suit. I wish Awake and Alert took more chances with their music; nevertheless I like what I'm hearing. The music ebbs and flows over me like a warmest of baths as the wonderful vocals cajole me into a relaxed state. Everything in the world is okay right at that moment, even if it is on planet Bizarro.
6.8 / 10
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Posted July 26, 2007, 2:36 a.m.
Awake and Alert have posted two tracks from their upcoming full-length, Devil in a Lambskin Suit, online here. The album is due out September 11th via Five One Inc.
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