RATING: (9 out of 10) RELEASE DATE: March 25th, 2009 LABEL: Independent REVIEWED ON: March 5th, 2011 REVIEWED BY: Brian MorrissetteREVIEW
Don’t Wake Aislin is a small female–fronted alternative rock band out of Dallas, Texas. They have been making music since 2004 and have slipped under the radar of most big name Christian music sites. I’ve known about Don’t Wake Aislin for a couple of years now, but up until recently I had never listened to them. I didn’t even know that their vocalist was a woman! For goodness sakes! They released Everyone Has A Story... back in 2009 to little or no support from any music sites. The only support they received was from new and long-time fans that they had garnered from the many tours they have done.
Some people describe their music as a mix between Paramore and Flyleaf, but that’s just not totally true. It’s immediately clear on “Clear Skies Are Hard To Find” that Deena Jakoub’s voice sets their sound apart from other female-fronted rock bands. Deena's sound is a bit rougher than your normal female melodic rocker voice. But the vocals aren’t Sarah Anthony (The Letter Black) whiny rough (though I do like The Letter Black); Deena’s voice is a good, unique roughness. Also, did I mention that she does some guttural screams (oh yeah!) on “Clear Skies Are Hard To Find." Additionally, the music on this track blends pop/rock with metal-like breakdowns that show off Brandon Brown’s sweet guitar skills. The lyrics on “Clear Skies Are Hard To Find” are about weathering the stormy seas of life, and they’re also about not judging people until you walk in their “shoes."
Next up is “I’ll Take On More Than One" about a girl (everyday person) giving in to God’s limitless love and compassion. It is more of a pop/rock anthem than an alternative hard rock song. Then out of nowhere, a sort of hardcore breakdown comes and hits the listener over the head. This track is led more by Joey Ramirez’s bass guitar than any of the other tracks, which gives it a grittier tone. Deena’s vocals drift more into sounding like Lacey Mosley (Flyleaf) than on the previous track.
“Our Voices are Vices” is the first of the slow songs on this EP. This song has a more laid back arena rock ballad sound, with Brandon’s electrifying lead guitar taking front and center in the musical background. Deena’s voice on this song resembles more of a Dawn Richardson (now Michele) melodic rock sound. Again a throaty scream finds its way into the mix; only this time it feels a bit out of place in this nice, peaceful song. The lyrics to “Our Voices are Vices” are poetic on how we need to be a shining light in a darkened world. This song is my least favorite song on this album, though, even with the nice lyrics. It feels a little bit out of place by neither being alt rock nor melodic rock, but somewhere stuck in the middle.
The next song, “Mighty To Save," is my second favorite song off this album. This track wonderfully shows off Deena’s high vocal range, which makes this song her best vocal performance on this album. Brandon’s guitar work on “Mighty To Save” reminds me a little of a mellower Dead Poetic (Vices era) mixed with Disciple’s high-pitched guitars. This track has a more worshipful mind set, with the lyrics pertaining to finding our strength in God and longing for the day when God comes to take His people home.
The last and by far my favorite track is “...How It Ends Is Up To You.” This song's name connects to the EP’s title, “Everyone Has A Story…." When the two names are put together, it says this: “Everyone Has A Story......How It Ends Is Up To You," and it is, at least I think, about taking charge of your life and deciding to choose to live for God and giving over your control to God. The unusual thing about this song is the acoustic pop ring it has (think Tal & Acacia, Anvue, and Poema). Deena’s voice fits perfectly into this role by being sweet and having this happy summertime ring to it. This track is stripped down to the bare bones with only an acoustic guitar and some drums, so an all-acoustic sound.
Note: When I listen to an EP, it seems to me that there is a smorgasbord of things to hear in one little package. So it makes sense to analyze it song by song, unlike an LP, where there are usually only a couple of differences in sound.
I am still amazed that I did not know that this band's lead singer was a lady for two years, but I’m a big fan now. Though there are numerous female-fronted rock bands out there that make it extremely hard for any band to stand out, Don’t Wake Aislin manages to keep things fresh. They stand out mostly by utilizing Deena Jackoub’s unique voice perfectly on all the tracks. There is, of course, room for improvement but only on minor things where they just need to grow as a band a little bit more. This album shows off what Don’t Wake Aislin has to offer; from hard rock to acoustic pop, this album rocks! I can see this band’s next album blowing people away and maybe finally getting them the attention they deserve.
4 ½/5: This album is totally worth picking up if you’re a fan of any of the bands I’ve stated in this review.
Also, go check out the interview we did with Don’t Wake Aislin’s guitarist Brandon Brown.
Posted on: March 5th, 2011 PST By: Brian Morrissette