ANIMAL LIBERATION ORCHESTRA
"Fly Between Falls"
It's hard to take Animal Liberation Orchestra all that seriously, but then it's not as if this West Coast quartet sounds as if it's struggling to achieve something greater than what it delivers on "Fly Between Falls" -- namely, some jam-happy, blue-eyed, college-bred funk.
Strip away the occasionally reflective or intentionally ponderous lyric ("As I attempt to unravel the web / By traversing and rehearsing and perversing / Along the doubt-laden extension chord thread of my life"), and what do you have? A breezy amalgam of jam band sounds that most Jack Johnson fans won't have any trouble enjoying -- and not just because Johnson, who signed ALO to his own label, makes a cameo here, adding his voice to the rapturous love song "Girl, I Wanna Lay You Down." Johnson has covered that tune in concert, and it's not hard to imagine him adding several other songs from "Fly Between Falls" to his repertoire.
Since ALO clearly takes pride in its eclectic tastes and malleable sound, with its echoes of bicoastal Dead-to-Phish influences, "Shapeshifter" turns out to be the album's most emblematic lyric: "I am so supple / Bend my legs back around my head / I'm the kind of guy you want in your government / And I'm the kind of guy you want in your bed," boasts singer-songwriter and keyboardist Zach Gill, who is chiefly responsible for preventing the album's ample supply of grooves from turning into ruts. Ultimately, though, whether this is the sort of band you want on your iPod will depend on your tolerance for road warrior genre-blending and lyrics that are witty, goofy and routine by turns.
-- Mike Joyce
Appearing Sunday at the State Theatre and Tuesday at the Recher Theatre.