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Aloke’s “Alive” Sees the Light of Day

Album artwork by Hannah Hooper

After nine years of keeping fans waiting, rock band Aloke released its sophomore album “Alive” on July 17th through The End Records.

Aloke, made up of members Christian Zucconi, Paul DeCourcey, Alex Charpentier and Alex Walker, recorded the album in Chicago under the guidance of legendary producer Steve Albini.

Zucconi, the band’s lead singer, said using Albini allowed them to create the sound they were after.

“Steve Albini has a distinct, live, raw, honest sound; he knows how to capture a band live in their essence.” Zucconi said via message. “We’ve always recorded live, but working with Albini gave us the ability to get the ‘Albini sound,’ which we know and love. He’s just a legend.”

The band went into the recording process – which began in 2007 – seeking to capture that sound.

“Alive” is a testament to those intentions. The ambiance and chemistry of the room envelop each song with vocals that chase after severity and attention. There is a certain willingness to let each subtle and human imperfection shape the gritty, yet crisp sound of this album.

“They have such raw talent, they don’t even need anything…they just really know how to connect with the crowd and get people off their feet even if you don’t know who they are,” said fan Hannah Eisen, who recently attended an Aloke show.

Beyond capturing its intended sound, “Alive” contains a glaring contrast of lyrics, style and speed showed off in songs like introductory track “Head on a String.” With such an intimidating lead in, it’s surprising how much of a shift occurred from Zucconi’s soft and youthful falsetto that drove into the song and left in an instant as it transitioned to spoken word.

The delicate push – pull relationship between its tragically haunting and in-your-face nature is what makes this album stand out.

When comparing it to the band’s previous releases, it is clear “Alive” is a far more dynamic album. With a combination of spirited screaming that effortlessly transitions to soothing reverberations and almost distant vocals, this record contains an everlasting wave of heartbreak and vulnerability.

“This album is a truly cathartic release of emotion…a haunting aura of beauty and pain,” said long-time fan Samuel Ramsey.

Heartbreak is a constant theme in the album’s 12 songs. Whether it’s the wails of isolation in “Unforgettable Mess” or the regretful and self-loathing portrayals on “We’re Strangers Now” and “Married on a Farm,” each song tugs violently at the tear ducts.

The second track, “Old Lady,” channels the likes of Rage Against the Machine and the Beastie Boys with its punchy beats, fat guitar riffs, call and response, fists-pumping-in-the-air type anthem sound.

All these attributes make the case for “Alive” to be considered as a truly dynamic and well-layered piece of art.

Zucconi is also the lead singer of indie-rock band, GROUPLOVE and while it is obvious both bands have inevitably similar vocals, they still manage to produce different sounds.

“I pull from the same creative place for both bands,” Zucconi said.

“’Alive’ was written when I was in a darker place in my life, so the songs reflect that…I always write from an honest place so what you hear is what I’m feeling.”

Several GROUPLOVE songs were actually birthed from Aloke songs, including “Gold Coast,” which is featured on “Alive”- a different approach to the song with a melodic guitar intro that builds up with subtly and encompasses all your attention.

Zucconi said all the band wants is to have a platform to express their ideas and survive as artists regardless of how “Alive” is interpreted by the world.

So with that, what you do with the creation is yours.

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