I didn't know anything about Alaska when I downloaded their debut release, a seven song e.p., from their bandcamp. In fact, even if I wanted to know anything about the band before I downloaded their debut release, it would have been dang near impossible becuase a google search of "Alaska music" takes you to a wiki page of the music of Alaska... The state. Not the band. So when I unzipped the band and added them to my ever diverse itunes library, all I knew was as follows:
- Alaska. That' a cool name.
- Their e.p. has a nice font and a rustic looking bear on the cover. That's pretty cool, too.
- It's late at night and I need somethign new to listen to. And hey, if it sucks, it's not like I spent money on it.
I wasn't expecting much of anything out of Alaska but within moments, I found myself thoroughly impressed. It's a ballsy move to start out your debut release with an instrumental track but it works in Alaska's favor greatly because, after the instrumental opening track "Introduction", there's really no place to go but up. That's not because "Introduction" is a bad composition but rather because Alaska has so much to offer, both vocally and lyrically, that once more elements are introduced, things start to get quite impressive. Imagine M. Ward's ragged vocals leading the multi-instrumental indie pop band Ravens & Chimes, with delusions of Arcade Fire's grandeur. And that'll give you a good idea of what Alaska is all about.
Like I said, I found myself thoroughly impressed. I found myself so impressed, in fact, that I e-mailed the band directly via their bandcamp all but begging for links, news, a press kit, anything! Who were these kids and where did they come from and how were they making such grandiose folk music without me knowing about it beforehand!?
The answers are as follows: Alaska does not have links. Nor do they have a press kit. They do, however, have a facebook. Who is Alaska and where did they come from? Well, they're a band of fairly-young'uns, by the looks of things, and hail from New Zealand. Why the heck are they called Alaska if they come from New Zealand? I don't know! But I'm not going to argue because guess what? The music they're making proves to me that New Zealand has a heck of a lot more to offer than Lord of the Rings and Flight of the Conchords. To be honest, aside from Little Pictures' ace cover of Weezer's "Buddy Holly", I wasn't so sure music existed in New Zealand and I'm glad to have Alaska to shatter that misconception.
I reviewed the band's EP for sister site Mezzic recently, raving about how the band's 2009 free EP has all the markings of a future great band. And even if you disagree, let's face it: The music's free. Did I mention how free it was? Come on, folks: This might be the only free trip to Alaska you ever get!