CD Review: Klessa--"Aloha Demons" | Music | Hudson Valley | Hudson Valley; Chronogram

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CD Review: Klessa--"Aloha Demons"



Klessa, Aloha Dreams
(2010, Independent)

If Klessa had formed in, say, an upscale neighborhood of Brooklyn, the band’s peculiar mix of instrumentation—piano, clarinet, bells, and accordion are prominent; the drums are softly hammered or whisked; guitars are an afterthought—would likely come clad in preppie corduroy and bourgeois pretension. As it is, this charming New Paltz quartet projects earthy sincerity and a deceptively ramshackle DIY sensibility; just because the 10 songs on Aloha Demons clatter and shuffle and proudly show their seams doesn’t mean they haven’t been painstakingly arranged (for example, all four members sing in constantly varying combinations and intensities).
The welcoming tone of the title isn’t ironic: Aloha Demons finds Klessa engaging ghosts of all sorts—wrestling with the past, filling houses with poltergeists, and dancing with the layers of personality we all wear around like clothes in winter. Midway through the rhyming lament “Song Never Sung,” the tune falls away, leaving the group to solemnly intone, “You pushed your head under pillows in your bed / Screaming: ‘I want back what has been made dead.’” As carefully crafted as each song is, however, the energy level slumps in the second half, as too many of the band’s songs follow similar pacing and a (novel, at first) refusal to build songs along a standard verse-chorus-verse structure. As a first effort, Aloha Demons has oodles of spirit; in time, expect Klessa to find better ways of showing off its low-light magic.

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