Alas, Alas’ debut self-titled LP is evocative and full of imagery, worth the listen
[UPDATE: Live audio of Alas, Alas' "Whiskey Town" by Jeremy Kleider]
by D. Sykes
Alas, Alas offers a kind of music now very familiar to Twin Cities audiences, a traditional Americana sound that embraces the ragged edges common to hardscrabble traveling musicians. Like many groups you can find at quieter basement shows and stages like the Acadia, they adopt a loose, living-room jam feel, like a bunch of hipster kids who got a hold of their granddad’s fiddle collection—however, Alas, Alas set themselves apart from the vast run of these groups through sheer songwriting quality and musical talent, as evidenced on their debut self-titled LP.
Alas, Alas forego the minimalism of much anti-folk for a ramshackle, wall-of-sound approach, reminiscent of a hung-over Beirut playing in a living room somewhere in Arkansas. At more intense tempos, as on “Whiskey Bound,” they remind one of the alt-bluegrass of Duluth’s Trampled by Turtles. At times the similarities border on appropriation, but there’s only so many chord progressions and picking patterns in the traditional Americana idiom.