Feature: Alyeska Debut with Crushing Weight and a Raw Energy

Crush EP - Alyeska

Our Rating

I remember when ‘meant to be’ became coincidence…

Everything has meaning, but some meanings are meaningless. Youth is fleeting, but you can make it last forever. Time has a funny way of changing us, for better or worse. And as much as we pretend to be in control of our lives, we’re helpless to the surrounding world; it’s all we can do to hold our heads above the rising tide.

Alyeska’s debut EP doesn’t come with any labels or preach any values. It won’t tell you how to lead your life, or help make you a better person. Rather, if music could be melted down to a core emotion, Alyeska’s debut would be a simmering restlessness. It’s a powerful, intoxicating feeling that permeates the airwaves and rushes through our veins, luring us deeper into the band’s heavily fuzzed-out dreamworld.

Crush EP - Alyeska

Crush EP – Alyeska

Independently released 4/14/2017, Crush is fresh and seductive – an intensely raw, vulnerable and vibing mesh of rock, folk and dream-pop that so perfectly captures the weight of the world as it falls on our shoulders. It’s a coming-of-age record, full of energy and excitement, hesitation and agitation. Sometimes, it feels like the diary of a jaded, agnostic nihilist; other times, it’s more like an overwhelming release of pure tension, a shaking-off of all of life’s dirt, dust and grime.

Always, it’s utter brilliance.

There’s just something special about Alyeska: The brainchild of LA-based Montana native Alaska Reid (alongside Ben Spear on drums and Enzo Scardapane on bass), Alyeska’s music is free-spirited and world-weary, confident and uncertain, youthful yet aware. The band is a beautiful dichotomy that embraces all life has to offer, while questioning everything in its right place.

Alyeska © 2017

Alyeska: Alaska Reid, Ben Spear and Enzo Scardapane © 2017

I remember when ‘meant to be’ became coincidence,” sings Reid on EP opener, “Ribs & Greens.” The haunting entrance paves the way forward as the band build a dark atmosphere, engulfing us in that sensation of having your fantasy ripped from you – think Dorothy and the man behind the curtain.

But it’s not all an illusion. The pulsing drive and hypnotic chorus of “Sister Buckskin” finds comfort in connecting the past with the present. Alyeska further lose themselves in warm reverie on “Tilt-a-Whirl,” crystallizing a special memory from youth in the timeless wonder of song.

Here I am,
talking to someone I left behind
It’s all stale ginger ale
And embarrassed smiles
Bleeding hearts
I always liked the look of bleeding hearts
They grow in my mind, twisting like vines
Around my thoughts
– “Ginger Ale,” Alyeska

Alaska Reid’s songwriting is true poetry, and when words fail her, the instruments take over. “Motel State of Mind” surges with a bombastic wall of sound, the band’s guitars building to a delicate, mesmerizing crescendo. Moments like these are few and far between for Alyeska – who would rather keep tension thick than gratify us every minute – but they’re indicative of just how in tune the members are with one another: This is not a live show you’d want to miss.

Though Crush ends far too soon, it nevertheless leaves a lasting impression on all who cross its path. Having already released two singles since their April debut – the standalone “Absaroka” and Crush B-side, “Stones” – Alyeska are a sure-first artist to watch this coming year, a dynamic outfit full of emotive energy and soul-crushing music. Dive deeper into Alyeska’s debut with Atwood Magazine as Alaska Reid provides her personal take on the music and lyrics of Crush!

:: Inside Crush ::

Crush EP - Alyeska

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Ribs and Greens

I just really ran with this idea of when you think something with someone is this “holy” “meant to be” moment, and it is actually just coincidence. I put a lot of trust in people, and sometimes that backfires. This is also the rare track where I used my limited piano playing ability on. 

Sister Buckskin

The inspiration came from when I was in Sax & Fryer (a store in my hometown) and I picked up one of the many books they have on the history of Montana. I opened to a page about a nun named “Sister Buckskin.” First of all, a name like that cannot be ignored. Secondly, she was known for trying to reduce poverty in Native American communities in the 1950s and even helped to change U.S. policy.

Tilt-A-Whirl

I was going for the MBV vibe at the end. But mostly it is an ode to the small county fair in my town. My friends and I would look forward to going every year. We’d see boys we had crushes on, and scream about the creepy carnies or the way your feet turned black with dirt in your yellow flip flops. We would giggle uncomfortably at the porno posters the carnies hung in their booths and the rotting state of their teeth. Then there were the rides — The Zipper, The Hurricane and my favorite, the Tilt-A-Whirl. The dirt in the midway was pocked with pools of vomit and discarded glow sticks and the carnies would spray you with giant squirt guns, trying to lure you into playing their game.… It was sort of a running joke, that it was your “coming of age” if you got squirted in the chest by the carnies. I just wanted to convey the sparkle and the excitement of when I was young against the neon glow of the county fair as well as the grit and the darkness lurking around the edges.

Ginger Ale

This is a loose response to Alex’s Chilton’s cover of “Motel Blues” by Loudon Wainwright. Everyone should listen to that song. I listen to it thinking of being the girl that these dudes are talking to, or that they need to sleep with in order to get away from their loneliness. I wanted to write a song from the girl’s point of view. No one really hears what it is like to be a girl and feel like that or to feel weird about what this song is saying.

Motel State of Mind

This song is about someone I knew and, at one point, I thought I wanted to be like. How the fuck I managed to use the word “linoleum” in my lyrics, I don’t know… Right from the start I was trying to emulate a Replacements song.

Lilacs

This song was inspired by one of my favorite poems, “Talking Richard Wilson Blues, by Richard Clay Wilson” by Denis Johnson. . I just wanted to write from the perspective of girls I’ve known whose lives have taken a tragic turn. There are things that can happen to you when you grow up because you started off so carefree and confident and then something tears you up.

Honest

This was the second song I ever wrote. I was so young, probably 14 when I wrote this. My uncle showed me this strange hillbilly tuning and that’s what I wrote it in. It feels like that stuffed animal you’ve had since you were a baby, something so personal and pure.

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:: stream / purchase ‘Crush’ ::

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Crush EP - Alyeska

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The Breakdown

Mitch is the Editor-in-Chief of Atwood Magazine and a 2014 graduate from Tufts University, where he pursued his passions of music and psychology. He currently works at Universal Music Group in New York City. In his off hours, Mitch may be found songwriting, wandering about one of New York’s many neighborhoods, or writing an article on your next favorite artist for Atwood. Mitch’s words of wisdom to fellow musicians and music lovers are thus: Keep your eyes open and never stop exploring. No matter where you go, what you do or who you are with, you can always learn something new and inspire something amazing.
Say hi here: mitch[at]atwoodmagazine[dot]com