Animal Liberation Orchestra (ALO) Fly Between Falls

While improvisational jam band fare is anything but generic, the music that has been permeating within its walls often succumbs to an internal plague of sameness, where all the bands who try to be different end up sounding exactly the same. That is my problem with San Francisco’s Animal Liberation Orchestra (ALO) and their major debut, Fly Between Falls. There is nothing particularly problematic at work here, except for a few songs plagued with immature lyrics ("Girl, I Wanna Lay You Down” and "Possibly Down”). The problem is that there is not one discernable moment where I can differentiate ALO from the usual improvisational-laced fare, including an appearance from fan, label-head and tour partner Jack Johnson. The musicianship is, as per usual, top-notch and the songs lovingly flirt with quirky folk, plaintive pop, Caribbean melodies and bluegrass; yet, the end result is an average at best effort that will resonate well with the Dave Matthews Band and Brushfire Records crowd. It seems the more bands like these emerge, the more they all sound the same over time. Blame it on the rest then. (Brushfire)