Dosta, the new album by Alien Music Club, is a playful-dark exploration through jazz, pop, rock and lyrics that project whimsy, acrimony, wit and oddity, funhouse-mirror style. Songs are written and performed by guitarist Jonathan Pearlman (stephaniesid) with an array of guest artists. And, while the nine tracks are wholly unique, there are hints of The Goodies’ art rock and Hellblinki psych-cabaret.
“Mama in a coma near a cobra tree, methadone clinic refugee. Screaming like a banshee wolverine,” Pearlman chants, low and raspy over a snarl of bari sax (Jacob Rodriguez) and slinky trumpet (Justin Ray). The song, “Jesus Was an Alien” dances a sharp edge between playful surrealism and twitchy darkness — and the music supports and enhances that experience.
“Who Are the Jazz Police?” showcases Pearlman’s jazz guitar styling. The melody rises and fall in cool waves, opening into a velvety expanse of background vocals, bells, clarinet (Rodriguez) and flugelhorn (Ray) explorations. The song evokes a prohibition-era cool, filtered through modern sensibilities, tempered with paranoid charm.
“Ways To Die” (with Will Mitchell on strings and Pearlman’s son, Jaron, on backup vocals) is among the album’s more psycho-sideshow offerings. It creeps and stalks with haunted carnival piano parts, atonal and rattling like dry bones. It’s a song that was either inspired by or deserved an Edward Gorey illustration. At the one minute mark, the song scape changes, smoothing out like a steam punk flying machine taking to the fog-thick sky. It’s a delightfully imaginative track.
There’s a thread of darkness that runs through, even at the album’s brightest points. On the breezy “Another Perfect Day,” Pearlman sings, “Who cares if the masses are brain dead, who cares if the planet explodes? Who cares if all the windows are painted? That’s just the way it goes.”
Opening track, “Beam Me Up, Scotty” poses the question, “When did I become so jaded?” And that’s an apt theme. There is a revisited cynicism throughout, though it’s layered among the crisp instrumentation and upbeat melodies. And, as the band’s website says, “Alien Music Club is an eclectic blend of alternative music in diverse musical genres ranging from all forms of rock to jazz to funk to anything in between with intelligent lyrics and a playful sense of humor.” So what if it’s hard to tell if the ire is slipped in between bouts of fun, or if the cheer is snuck into the snark? In the end, it makes for an entertaining and engaging collection of songs.