Way Out West: Alien Boy

Posted: by The Editor

FFO: Alkaline Trio, Sculpture Club, Happy Diving

Alien Boy

As someone who is a self-proclaimed weenie wimpy emo music listener, I’d be lying if I said the word “goth” doesn’t strike me with at least a little bit of fear and distaste. Musically, I associate the term with darker, more abstract and obscure sounding music, accompanied by spooky subject matter and often distorted and haunting vocals. While this often isn’t quite my cup of tea, Portland, OR’s Alien Boy has taken “goth”, turned it on it’s head, and made it more than palatable. Creating their own special brand of what I like to call “goth pop” – Alien Boy pulls from elements of both goth and pop to create subtly heart-wrenching masterpieces. Vocalist and guitarist Sonia Weber has mastered detached monotone 90’s shoegaze vocals, and they fit seamlessly into the overwhelming and engrossing instrumentals. Guitarist Caleb Misclevitz brings a distinctly pop element to the band without compromising their signature distorted and delayed shoegaze quality.

Alien Boy Stay Alive

Single “If We Don’t Speak” is arguably their finest work yet, incorporating a fun chorus into a soul-fulfilling riff that’s bound to get stuck in your head. Unlike a traditional shoegaze band though, the bass and percussion are what carry the songs along, keeping them from sounding too dreamy, monotonous, or uninvolved. Keeping the pace up and driving tracks forward are dream duo bassist Mac Pogue and drummer Derek McNeil. The unique upbeat approach is what sets this band apart from their traditional 90s ripoff peers. The opening track to their EP Stay Alive, “Swell” is a perfect example of this, as it includes familiar repeating, wailing,  delayed guitar notes yet it has a speed and undercurrent of energy to it that keeps it from getting boring or predictable. Following track, “So Three Years Ago” sounds more like a heartbroken 90s goth dance party track than anything I’ve ever heard that isn’t actually from the 90s. This band is a unique take on the 90s revival happening right now, making the once obscure, now overdone goth trend poppy and palatable.

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