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Chapel Hill, North Carolina, United States

Chapel Hill, North Carolina, United States
Band Rock Soul


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"Troika Music Festival: Thursday, Nov 5"

One of the most exciting bands to emerge from Chapel Hill during the backside of this decade, the young four-piece Aminal brims with a potential only matched by its abundant hooks. Pairing a bit of early Rolling Stones swagger with an interest in the composure and cool of later Spoon, Aminal sashays through would-be rock 'n' roll anthems with high harmonies and clean riffs - Grayson Currin - Independent Weekly

"The guide to the week's concerts"

Released in May, the dual EPs from Carrboro quartet Aminal, A Will to Fight and A Face to Fight, are two of the year's local treasures. Pop enthusiasts with rock aplomb and soul swagger, Aminal is equally capable of nuance and bombast, leaping into infectious hooks only to settle surprisingly into rich pockets of steel guitar and piano texture. "Emotions Rule Me," for instance, is a keyboard-and-drums anthem mixing Tom Petty and The Walkmen. It erupts and exclaims but changes keys and directions before it has the chance to become cloying. Like The Honored Guests, who open tonight, Aminal suggests an interest in re-creating big production on the cheap, lending their songs a sort of probated commercialism. San Francisco's Low Red Land join Aminal at The Cave on Sept. 23. $5/ 10 p.m. —Grayson Currin - Independent Weekly

"Aminal's A Will to Fight/ A Face to Fight (self-released)"

With as many hues and varieties as there are in music's stylistic box, why are there so many trite, unimaginative releases? Why not mix it up? Try something different? Take a chance?

That's exactly what Aminal (formerly Aminal Music) does on its introductory pair of five-song EPs. Of the two EPs, one, A Will to Fight, is a free download. Its counterpart, A Face to Fight, is available for purchase. Picking the better of the two is a fool's errand, though: Taken together they explore commitment, dissolution and self-determination, though while they fit together nicely, they don't adhere to a central concept. Still, these songs would make a fine album, if anyone even concerns themselves with such things these days.

Instead of confining themselves to one set of genre conceits, Aminal mixes and matches, touching on art rock, garage, roots and pop across the eminently listenable 10 tracks. To wit, I've listened to each of them at least a dozen times, and I'm not done with them yet. In all fairness, Aminal's members are hardly musical freshmen in these parts: Singer/ guitarist Patrick O'Neill (Honored Guests) and Cameron Weeks (Comas, Black Skies) are scene vets, which helps explain the quality of these releases to an extent. This is much better than anyone should have a right to expect the first time around, though.

A Will to Fight, the free disc, leads with its strongest and titular track: Opening to a loping, finger-picked country-twang, O'Neill confides: "All my lines are well-rehearsed/ All my sins are fully endorsed ... I'm no damn good at keeping friends, you say the race is long, well, I'm going to win." A traditional tale of a troubled relation, O'Neill eventually gives in as the song builds to a tremendous, ringing climax. Its counterpart in temperament, "Last Breath," alternates rootsy guitar and harmony vocals with a driving, buoyant chorus ("It feels like home," O'Neill shouts), before emerging fully formed into an organ-driven garage break.

Based upon the sharper guitar, increased keyboards and backing vocals and generally bigger arrangements, A Face to Fight feels like the more recent, developed effort: Opener "Drag Me Away" boasts a jaunty melody with a vaguely prog air, reminiscent of early Genesis. Keyboards and vocal harmonies drive the subtly insistent "King of Cross Words," which shines with a bit of '60s flower power warmth. Again, though, it's the title track that steals the show. Pedal steel gives a shimmer to the lithe, folksy rave, while Weeks works the ride cymbal, maintaining the understated vibe of resplendent '60s pop. The wonder is in how well everything coalesces, well-balanced and without a hemline. Without showing off the hook like cleavage, Aminal's engaging manner easily disarms you and sweeps you in with a multitude of charms. - Chris Parker - Independent Weekly

"Dive Recommends (for FallFest)"

First up, Chapel Hill's mighty Aminal will take Stage One at the corner of South Road and Raleigh Street. Though the band might come off as tame and controlled on record, live they rip through dirty southern-fried indie rock that lends considerable power to Patrick O'Neil's brokenhearted anthems. And though there's always a sense of the downtrodden in his music, both the melodies and the words are alive with the belief that anything can be overcome if you just believe enough. - Jordan Lawrence - The Daily Tar Heel

"Music shorts for Aug. 27"


A Face to Fight/A Will to Fight


3.5 of 5 stars

The purpose of this review was initially to write only about A Will To Fight, the free-download EP from Chapel Hill’s Aminal that UNC’s Vinyl Records is supporting on its VR Presents Web site.

But in listening to it and its physically packaged counterpart A Face To Fight, it became obvious that the two are too closely related not to be talked about together.

The two EPs together constitute one complete collection, a statement of post-adolescent angst built of roughly hewn, stripped-back indie rock. Leaving behind the barreling barroom rage of its powerful live shows, Aminal lets its insistent melodies and moving thoughts on life in limbo do the work.

“A Will To Fight” is the best example. Dropping such irresistible lines as “Situation normal, I f--cked up” and “You don’t need stand there and be my crush because I’m going to love you way too much,” lead singer Patrick O’Neill wavers between fighting and giving up as he faces the trouble of his life.

It’s this conflict that consumes these two EPs. Using guitar, keys, bass and drums with very few instrumental freak outs, Aminal’s exploration of its existential crisis is by turns delicate and defiant. But no matter which gear the band finds itself in, it never ceases to tug on the nerves in the bottom of your stomach.

And while not every song will stay with you forever, there are moments that crystallize the fear of where life is heading in a way most bands can only aspire to.

It’s a great game to play in a place such as Chapel Hill, one that should win over both townies and college kids alike. Looks like Aminal is just our kind of beast.

-Jordan Lawrence - The Daily Tar Heel


A Face To Fight EP,
A Will To Fight EP,
The Fight EPs (re-release)



Born from barroom conversations, North Carolina-based Aminal has evolved from a two-piece side project to what Raleigh’s Independent Weekly now refers to as “one of the most exciting bands to emerge from Chapel Hill during the backside of this decade.”

Founders Patrick O’Neill (The Honored Guests) and Cameron Weeks (Jennyanykind, the Comas) sought control of their own sound with Aminal. Following the addition of Joe Caparo (the Doleful Lions) on bass, Aminal has grown in its complexity, with luscious sounds, instantly engaging beats and a high-energy live show.

Infused with country twang, garage energy and blues lamentations, the band’s gritty timbre creates a strong sense of locality without losing sight of its pop sensibilities. Through hooks that build and drive with an urgent, frenetic energy, Aminal is at once instantly familiar yet irresistibly complex with multi-layered approaches that the Indy Week said, “easily disarm you and sweep you in with a multitude of charms.”

From softly sung verses to horsely-growled declarations, Aminal attaches the members’ personal experiences to songs of love, frustration, resentment, regret, loneliness and boredom. O’Neill displays a vulnerability that, when coupled with the explosive rhythm section of Caparo and Weeks (drums), shows confidant ownership of problems that once seemed so tough.

This past December, the band re-released its first two EP's—A Face to Fight and A Will to Fight (spring 2009)— as a single record, The Fight EPs. Aminal now approaches the release of their first full length record, Bang All Our Drums, in 2010— a mature and sonically complex record that still manages to retain the stripped down feel that makes it all so damn charming.