Aspiga /Hanalei – Split

  • John Ray posted
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Aspiga / Hanalei

Split - Jumpstart Records

Of the two groups contributing to Jump Start Records’ new Aspiga/Hanalei Split, Aspiga contributes both better tracks and more progress on the band’s sound. In presentation and production, the group is deeply Jersey; upgraded by sounds peeking into a higher registry in a tradition generally associated with the Midwest and other mid-Atlantic states, a possible nod to the recording time they’ve spent in Philly. Of their stated influences only Desaparecidos really seems to capture this interesting harmonic choice – I’d try to compare them favorably to The Weakerthans, but I seem to be the world’s only punk fan who would do so for anyone, and I don’t want to start any fights.

Kevin Day is the kind of vocalist who needs a strong guitarist to survive, and at times his smooth but short-range voice is wrung out by the demands of the band’s tonal choices. Each attempt to deviate from his strengths of loud and high or soft and medium is unsuccessful, both here and elsewhere in their work. At the risk of inciting further violence, the best moments of these two tracks call the Brooklyn scene to mind – is it okay for a Jersey band to be “kind of like Palomar” if it requires comparing them to be mentioned in the same breath as Palomar? Are those fighting words where they’re from?

Hanalei is harder to place. Compared to the advances Aspiga makes Hanalei hasn’t done themselves any special favors by contributing to this release. As the older band they must have more spare tracks and unsung songs to spare, and for many such groups split albums are where that work ends up. This is no exception. The imagery on “Get Gone” begins with that of a man watching, with gravity of course, the behavior of mice. Lyrical depth fails to develop from there. By simply trailing off on both counts Hanalei makes it clear these are both tracks that may once have merited serious attention, but no longer.

Both bands have clear internal logic for releasing the split – Aspiga has a vinyl re-release coming out, and Hanalei can treat One Big Night fans to a couple of bonus tracks with a similar sound, even as it comes time to get another album together – and neither has failed to provide something of value to their fans. This album however is no exception from the norm for the kind of split contribution made by both an upcoming and an established group.