Album Spotlight: AWOLNATION - "Angel Miners & Lightning Riders"

>>From the Electropop mind of Aaron Bruno comes the next installation of stadium rocking anthems from AWOLNATION. The band has been releasing major label albums for about ten years and their experience and veteran status is on full display in a short album bursting with catchy melodies and interest piquing lyrics. Angel Miners and Lightning Riders has a cinematic quality to it, a musical montage modus operandi to every track.

A few tracks had previously been released from the album including the Best, which serves as a duet between Bruno and No Roots Singer Alice Merton. In an isolated time for the world it’s interesting to see the duet come from across the world in different countries, in different studios. Their voices work well together, blending a well-balanced melody with Bruno’s falsetto practically matching Merton’s natural tones. Merton is not brought to the front of the track and production keeps the singer's side by side. You could almost miss her completely if you weren’t familiar with either singer.

When the band originally announced the release of Angel Miners and Lightning Riders in February, they released Mayday!!! Fiesta Fever, a bouncy dance track that keeps your head bobbing. Notable is the odd minor key melody during the chorus. “Fiesta Fever running through my veins” has a middle eastern, Moroccan sound, not very typical of American pop music. Middle Eastern Music hardly uses the traditional harmonic sounds of western music, but somehow effortless AWOLNATION has slipped this into the song, almost completely unnoticed. It fits the track and maybe comes from joining forces on the track with Alex Ebert.

The track California Halo Blue is the most cinematic and radio friendly track on the album and was released Last November. It’s modern and classic at the same time, with lyrics that everyone can easily remember and sing along to. The chorus is appropriately backed by an angelic sounding church choir. It’s one of their most catchy songs on any of their records and with the release of the complete album that fact is further backed up.

Right after California Halo Blue is Radical. The line that sticks out is “I’m not gonna die on the 405, I’m a radical” and it sounds like a track that should be played in every vehicle traveling the 405. It’s a freeway that carries hundreds of thousands daily, making it one of the busiest highways in the United States and it played a crucial role in the development of hundreds of suburbs. The anthemic dystopian tune accentuates being a unique and interesting individual amongst the hordes of similar ants throughout California. The screaming of “I’m a radical” with a voice breaking open with anger is cathartic.

There are so many ways that AWOLNATION can be described from Electropop to alternative and throughout their catalog of music they seem to fit into all of them. In the mainstream music world that is merely impossible to do, most casual music fans simply stick to one sound that they like best. But after ten years of AWOLNATION defying categorization and continually writing catchy and relatable music they have become part of the popular tapestry of American music. Angel Miners and Lightning Riders signifies their pop dominance, a radio friendly album that music fans of different categories can get into.