Now We're Familiar
Naked Kids Doing Karate
By: Eric Greenwood
Yes, Alaska the Tiger's name follows the same convention as Pedro the Lion's, but any similarities to the Jade Tree sound end right there. This Columbia, South Carolina trio owes little to nothing to the modern day emo movement, harkening back further to the mid'90's post-rock of Polvo, the blistering intensity of Mission of Burma, and the dawn of the shoegaze movement instead.
While the dark undercurrent that pervades this debut EP betrays a fondness for post-punk's urgency and legacy, Alaska the Tiger doesn't rely simply on volume and speed or even political agitation for its familiar attack. The lyrics follow the politics of personal crises in strikingly oblique verses, avoiding both hardcore's one-dimensional fascism and much of indie rock's smarmy wordplay.
Guitars are splayed out dramatically with plenty of hooks in tow atop vulnerable vocal passages, but both ebb and flow intuitively, hitting the pressure points for memorable melodies and sustaining climaxes without sacrificing any immediacy. Perhaps, the EP's most memorable moment is "Honeybadger", an infectious mix of melodic bass leads, driving percussion, and a haunting, alluring double vocal presence.
The production is markedly indie in its DIY aesthetic, but the tones are distinct and cultivated. You get the feeling Alaska the Tiger would sound like this regardless of the studio. Now We're Familiar may not be familiar to you yet, but this band has a sound that finds a way under your skin and figures out how to stay there.