Sailing with AWOLNATION

5 Mar

Monday may be coming to a close but since it is the beginning of the week I want to provide you all with a spark to get you through the rest of it. If you haven’t heard “Sail” by AWOLNATION, you will now and might also be left humming this infectious heavy indie/electro piece until the weekend. I know I couldn’t get it out of my head when I first heard it. So instead of delaying my insertion of the song, let me just provide you with the music so it can help make the rest of the post seem that much more awesome.

“Sail” is unlike any other song I have posted on this blog. Yes, Aaron Bruno, the frontman and leader of this project, does fuse familiar indie elements into this 4:20 bundle of paranoid energy, the song is still quite heavy and I think far more soulful and angry than M83, which can be looked at as a potential comparison. It first appeared on the band’s introductory EP titled Back from Earth, a worthy EP title because the top track, “Sail,” is inspired by a fictional extraterrestrial visit (or maybe it is all true!). The band released their debut album, Megalithic Symphony, in March of 2011. The band also features:

  • Christopher Thorn – lead guitar (formerly of Blind Melon)
  • Kenny Carkeet – rhythm guitar, keyboards, backing vocals
  • David Amezcua – bass guitar, backing vocals
  • Hayden Scott – drums

The best song on the full-length and EP is “Sail,” so let’s see why this untraditional song reached #82 on the Hot 100 charts and #5 on the alternative charts.

The song draws listeners in from the beginning with its simple staccato chord progression. The initial notes are catchy and this is important because right when you are being oddly lulled by this choppy progression, your ears meet a heavily distorted electronic factory noise that just explodes over a more complex version of the initial riff. Add in some percussion and this indescribable soulful yell of “Sail” and we have ourselves a song. Bruno’s voice is a true strength. A passionate rhythm can often drown out a vocalist, but Bruno’s reverbed voice is more powerful than the melody. It is also soulful. That is an element of this song that cannot be forgotten. While heavily distorted soul is not an established genre, Bruno pushes genre boundaries. His voice brings back the memory of blue-eyed soul singers.

The song itself infuses some neat elements I’d like to explore. At around 2:05, after the drums lead into a well-placed bridge, we get a traditional guitar echoing over the distortion and both background rhythms. A calm piano and harmony is then delicately placed over the hard-hitting rhythm. In a way, this reprieve is the calm before the storm. If you are following the video, you can see Bruno’s character hiding out from an inevitable abduction, and well, listen on.

We fall right back into it. All of the layers mash together in a composed mind-screw. Voices are placed over each other and the rhythm beats into you like a hammer. The elements fall off and Bruno starts to fly. The initial riff is heard above the distortion and drums. The song fades and ends.

“Sail” is a song you want to listen to a few times to appreciate all of the parts. I give it a big seal of approval for being revolutionary and so damn catchy! For more information about the band visit their website

One Response to “Sailing with AWOLNATION”

  1. John Phillips March 5, 2012 at 11:09 pm #

    This is a great song.

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