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Aloha Hola

    D A Stern Aloha Hola CD      Aloha Hola is the solo debut of D.A. Stern, aka David Stern, onetime leader of New York indie rock group the Sanctuaries. Stern wrote all the songs on their one release (2012's Annette), and fans of the band will recognize his knack for '60s-style pop melodies as well as an '80s college rock that evokes names like Marshall Crenshaw and Elvis Costello. The latter style is more pronounced here as he dials down the dream pop component of his band's sound a notch, picking up the tempos and sharpening the focus on sunny melodies. Still, reverb, jangly guitars, and humming organ help maintain a certain dreamy quality that flows throughout the track list. Self-recorded in his mom's basement in New Jersey, the record is loose and spontaneous, and sounds like the work of more than a single pair of hands. Its most explosive track, "Diggin' for Something," for instance, passes for a five-piece captured live on-stage as it closes with guitar distortion and improvised feedback. That song is followed by "Home and Dry," a two-minute synth-and-flute lament that plays more like an interlude. Likewise, the penultimate track, "Sports Moment," is a minute-long hold-music instrumental. That kind of playfulness is also reflected in lyrics that mix earnest insight and wry humor, potentially catching listeners off guard with both. Sometimes despite the tone of the lyrics, the bulk of Aloha Hola is musically bright and buoyant, offering guitar pop anthems like "Am I Ever on Your Mind?" and "When I Said You Were Right I Was Wrong" among more than its fair share of earworms.

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