Saturday, October 30, 2010

A Little More Dark with Tai Tai Alibi

Hey guys, it's great to be back! I've been searching for a while now for a new group whose sound captures what I think of when I hear the words alternative and grunge. I feel like I haven't been focusing on this genre as much as I have on others in the past couple months, and though I've written about some great metal and hard-rock groups, there's a certain alienated twinge missing from the mix.
Though it's not 1992 anymore and many would argue that the whole alienated grunge thing was over the top, and just hyped to sell more albums after the Seattle explosion, the term nonetheless expresses a certain reserved feeling and detachment that still resonates with me, if not with many others too.
So it is on an excited note that I share with you all this group, Tai Tai Alibi, an alternative-grunge foursome from Hong Kong, China. Composed of lead vocalist/guitarist Tim Hills, lead guitarist and vocalist Chris Collins, bassist/vocalist Rafe D'Aquino, and drummer Matt Cartwright, Tai Tai Alibi are a dark and brooding force to be reckoned with. With a particular sound and swagger that I haven't seen in a while, Tai Tai Alibi's songs are simple, melodic, hardcore, and almost romantic in their innate alienation. Maybe that's what these guys were going for when they wrote these tunes, maybe not. That's just what I get from the music when I listen to it, and it's a feeling I really dig.
I see that these guys only have a few plays in their Myspace, and that's definitely something that confuses me. Even if they were to break up and move on to new projects tomorrow, I would most definitely want these songs on my iPod. There's just something that's excellent about them. But enough of this, I'll just pick from the lot and let you guys do the rest.
"A Little More Empty" is a song that has the perfect intro for this entire setlist. A song of a grunge nature with a metal-like buildup, "A Little More Empty" clearly showcases Tai Tai Alibi's mighty rhythm section that rests just behind their melodic stage. Cartwright's drumming is indiscriminate and soldiers on through D'Aquino's bass notes with a resigned intensity that makes the base of the song strong and forceful. D'Aquino, meanwhile, is solid on his bass, as his lines carry quickly, but altogether romantically right to the chorus. Collins' guitar notes are eery and almost resigned in nature, but still strong and sharp enough to rip right through me. A nod, no doubt, to Jerry Cantrell's technique of making the guitar mesh with the vocal undertones in a haunting, yet beautiful sonic bid. To add to the haunt and chill behind the guitar notes, though, Hills' vocals fit just right. An asset on his guitar just as much as with his unique vocals, Hills takes these guys higher, and it wouldn't surprise me one bit if Tai Tai Alibi sparked a whole new post-grunge revolution.
Things are harder-edged and more intense with TTA's next number, "Lost in You." With a reserving drum intro by Cartwright, I'm immediately impressed with Collins' guitar notes. They're hot while at the same time not burning through me in too much of a metal way. Perfectly alternative and grunge in their planning and execution, the guitar notes are only furthered by Hills' chords. D'Aquino, meanwhile, is on the side, in a sort of secretive place, preferring to add to the song without taking over and making things too bass-heavy. While Hills continues to impress me with his peculiar vocal dynamics, I'm struck the minute that Collins lets go with a beautiful solo. Maybe this sound isn't pure Pearl Jam or Soundgarden, but it's a beautiful mix of the two with a tasty Alice in Chains polish on top. A song you definitely don't want to miss, "Lost in You" is a fantastic number, fit for any live performance or album release.
"Strawman" is a song reveling in creepy awe and dripping in eery self-awareness. Most certainly a perfect song for any Halloween or haunted house occasion, "Strawman" showcases just how versatile Tai Tai Alibi can be. Though I'd love to hear this song blasting loudly at me live, in a funny way it also would work for an indie flick. The chorus just has one of those guitar progressions that draws you in while the rhythm section surrounds you in crashing waves that fill your senses. Tai Tai Alibi outdo themselves here, and impress me again and again. "Strawman" is definitely one of my favorite songs on their setlist, and a song I would hardly be surprised to see on any demo recording. Oh, and the solo by Collins is just sick.
It still remains a mystery to me why these guys have so few plays on their Myspace page. True, grunge and alternative-rock seem to have taken a backseat to emo-punk and pop-rock in the last few years, but still there can be no denying the talent when a group like this emerges. The spirit of '90s alternative lives on in group like Tai Tai Alibi, and that's something I'd glad for. I have no doubt in my mind that these guys will find their audience, and that when they do, they'll be an underground phenomenon. It's just something I can feel in my bones. Brilliant.

Sounds Like: Alice in Chains, Bush, Collective Soul, Candlebox

Key Tracks: "A Little More Empty," "Lost in You," "Strawman," "Cycle"

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