Airiana (Candy-Ass Records)
By: Alex Steininger
With the early 90's over, and Sub Pop's Portland signing frenzy over as well Hazel is back on an independent label. Jody Bleyle, their drummer's, label Candy-Ass Records to be exact. Although now defunct, this powerful Portland power pop quartet (Pete-guitar/vocals, Brady-Bass, Jody-drums/vocals, and Fred-Dancer. Yes, a dancer!) released "Airiana" before the demise. This five song EP shows that they went out on top.
The CD starts out with "Airiana," a blistering, head-on power attack of bright pop melodies, hard beats, and choruses that will ring and sing in your head even while the CD is not playing. Jody does a great job vocally on this track with her sometimes fast, sometimes smooth, and always slightly rough female vocals. Her vocals can translate from powerful melodies, to slow numbers that capture feelings deep inside you. "Title Track" is not only the weirdest title I have ever seen, especially when the album is named "Airiana" and the first song is "Airiana," but also a very infectious trip through your heart and sole. "A checkerboard or a time bomb/conversation or a love song/but no matter how right I am/I am always wrong/once again..." comes from Pete's emotionally powerful vocals. All of a sudden the music picks up a bit and adds some power to the melody. The chorus rings through your head with it's catchy male-female combination vocals, as the music drives its way straight to your core. It then slows down a bit to let your body feel more emotion. Soon the chorus comes back and gives your world some rock, but the emotional, slow paced part will always come back and give you a twirl. "Mr. Magazine Man" is the most original song I have heard in a long time. The pace is fast and full of action, all the while both Pete and Jody are singing their own parts. Both are clear and understandable if you follow along with the lyric sheet. It gets very confusing if you try to pay attention to both of the voices at one time, but if you concentrate at one voice at a time, and then rewind it and hear the song again you'll find the song most enjoyable. These guys know how to rock and have fun, as well as make a point and grab the emotions deep in your heart. The CD ends with "My 2nd Chance," a very soft song that will leave you soul searching.
After hearing this album tears will role down your cheek. Not only from the power and emotion of this album, but from the fact that the band has gone on to other projects. One listen all the way through and you'll want to see these guys live. The album gives off so much emotion, you can't help but wonder how powerful they are live. Visit Candy-Ass' web site (listed above) and order this CD. You will be amazed over and over again by their talent. A definite A+.
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