Excuse me, I’m having a D.A. Stern moment here. Sometimes when you’re clicking through hundreds of new tunes by all manner of artists something just jumps out as strikingly original and different, just a bit off the poprock beaten track. That would be the new album from D.A. Stern, Aloha Hola. Oh, all the usual influences appear –the Beatles, Beach Boys, 1970s mannered radio pop, 1990s indie, etc. But you get a sense from the execution here that Stern’s endearingly oddball personality makes all those influences different, without necessarily becoming eccentric. The album opens with some nice trippy pop numbers – “Am I Ever On Your Mind?” and “Bluegenes” – with ever so shoegazey vocals. But then Stern shakes things up with tracks like “In Pain” and “When I Said That You Were Right” that draw on different song forms and add more weight to the vocals. For instance, “When I Said There You Were Right” has a great Rubber Soul-era Beatles acoustic shuffle, artfully laying a load of bitter lyrics over a bed of musical pleasantness. “Spirit of New York” changes things up again with sunshiny pop quality that says single to me. There are other moments where Stern really does channel a lovely Teenage Fanclub vibe, like on “Miami” and “Isn’t It Obvious?” the latter from a maxi-single released a month after (and not included on) the album.
Ok, my Stern moment is drawing to a close (for now) but don’t let me stop you. Stern’s material rewards a close and enduring inspection, most easily accomplished after purchase from Bandcamp of course.