The Alrights
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The Alrights


Band Alternative Rock


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"EP Review 2008. "Meeting of... ""

Published Friday, February 15, 2008

Ladies and gentlemen, the Alrights have landed.

What was once one of Duluth’s most aptly titled bands is now one of its most potent forces.

Though the “Meeting of the St. Louis County League of Volunteer Astronauts: Excerpts from the Keynote Address” EP is a brief affair (track-wise, not title-wise), it will go into the archive as an artifact of what Toby Churchill, Danny Cosgrove and Chad Amborn were up to right before they became megastars — that is, if there is any justice in this world.
The Alrights'
The Alrights' "Meeting of the St. Louis County League of Volunteer Astronauts: Excerpts from the Keynote Address" EP (City Canyons, 2008)
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Matthew R. Perrine's Review-O-Rama
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“Meeting of…” launches with the ubercatchy “When I Get Born,” which continues the group’s fascination with Kara’s Flowers/

Maroon 5 that was so evident on “High School.”

But where that debut disc sounded like nothing more than an unnecessary (though pleasurable enough) retread, this fantastic track reinvigorates the stale radio-friendly power pop genre with a certain, indefinable spark that’s more “The Fourth World” than “Songs About Jane.”

Not to be pigeonholed, the EP continues with “Happy Birthday Universe,” a triumphant number that’s equal parts “Abbey Road” and “Yoshimi”-era Flaming Lips. It rides a warm sound, with all of the group’s exquisitely polished elements (Churchill’s piano lessons, in particular, are really starting to pay off) coming together in beautiful harmony.

The golden hum of “All This Time,” and “All I Know is Rock ‘n’ Roll,” in all of its eccentric glory, continue on in a similar fashion.

The EP’s only real hiccup is “Love Love Love Love Love.”

While there’s nothing inherently flawed about the song — the only one not written by Churchill — its hard-charging (relatively speaking) execution doesn’t really flow with the rest of the tracks.

Granted, on a full-blown album Cosgrove’s composition wouldn’t have stood out so much — in fact, I probably would’ve said it added depth or something, but yours truly prefers EPs concise, sticking to a central theme (music geeks can argue the merits of this position…).

Irrelevant digressions aside, the five tracks that compose “Meeting of…” make for 19 of the most consistently entertaining minutes to ever emerge out of the fertile Twin Ports music scene. - Matthew Perrine Budgeteer News

"Alrights Album Review"

The Alrights’ NEW Album Release: Meeting of the St. Louis County League of Volunteer Astronauts: Excerpts form the Keynote Address.

Andrew Olson

Reader Weekly

Mark your calendars folks, Saturday at the Tap Room one of the best albums that you have heard in your life is being released, with the acronym of MOTSLCLOVAEFTKNA.

“The main point of the album title is a funny way of suggesting the longing we all have to understand something we could never understand,” Toby Churchill said. “The graphic on the EP is a boy reaching out for the moon, which is smiling back at him, so I think that sums up the feeling.”

Usually in a music review I will go through and try to sound all cute with quotes and descriptions of songs using big words like “saturnine”, “verve”, or “pinnacle”, but this album is just too good for that. It is the album I have been waiting for.

It restores your faith in rock that was being toyed with in front of our faces with bands like Jet, The Strokes, The Hives, etc.

This is that one CD that everyone MUST own. It is not a “want” item in life, but a “need” that you cannot live without.

Most of the time when I drive or am at work I listen to the classics of rock, complaining in my head that today things are just never as great as they were back in the old days of rock and roll. This album makes me change my mind and see that maybe bands the likes of The Beatles are alive today, and that perhaps we live in a very cold version of Liverpool.

Best of all is that we get the greatest band in the world right here in our town, and no one else knows about it yet.

I know I am gushing on this CD, but I will stake my career as a music writer on this one. If it isn’t one of the greatest CDs you have heard in years, write back to me and call me a liar. If I get mail back I will quit writing music reviews for the rest of my life.

Bands like Trampled By Turtles are like drinking beer, an “acquired taste,” usually from the friends you hang out with or an exposure to a new form of music at some point. The Alrights are more of a serious drug than beer though... like injecting heroin (Not that I have done it, or condone its deadly use). From the moment the CD starts, the music hits you like the ear equivalent of when Ewan McGregor falls into the floor in Trainspotting. As Ewan, or “Renton,” said, “Take the best sex you’ve ever had, multiply it by thousand and you’re still nowhere near it.”

If you don’t know, The Alrights consist of Toby Churchill (Vocals/Guitar/Keyboard), Danny Cosgrove (Vocals/Bass), and Chad Amborn (Drums/Beat). They are a three-piece group that has been working their butts off with regional tours and local shows while recording their album in Minneapolis with Ben Durrant at Crazy Beast Studio. That’s the same studio that recorded Chicago’s Andrew Bird’s latest album Armchair Apocrypha.

The first song on the Alrights CD, “When I Get Born” is catchy, and has a beat that drives into your soul. A xylophone sound from the keyboard accentuates the infectious feel in the changes, and Amborn bangs away on the skins into the next verse. The sound at times is like a bubble floating to the surface, only to be greeted by an “ahh” being sung like in those old Coke commercials.

The next song, “Happy Birthday Universe” reminded me of Sgt. Pepper’s by the Beatles. Soft piano, intricate lyrics, and an almost fatigued voice from Churchill highlight the tune. Then an organ resonates in the background and the choruses drag out with little accents and splashes of various sounds. A circus feel can be felt, mixed in with a sluggish slowness that plays with the listener’s ears. It’s almost as if The Beatles had reunited in the mid- to late-seventies.

“All This Time” comes next with a modern feel that is the farthest away from what you would expect in an Alrights song. Lots of accents and timed out perfection rings throughout the tune. For the people who don’t like the rock or pop side of the band, this one has the depth and sound that you would love.

“Love Love Love Love Love” steals the CD, however, and should be playing on a radio near you very soon. This song is Danny Cosgrove’s and it turns the album on its head. He sang and wrote the infectious ditty and repeats the chorus, “Love Love Love Love Love” again and again until it worms its way into your mind.

Maybe because Danny has fallen in love with my now former neighbor Cheryl?

Sometimes falling in love can create some great art; obviously Danny has something special going because he wrote a hit song. I didn’t really care that much for his song, “The Sickness” off of their previous album High School, but the crowd always loved it. With “Love…” he has redeemed himself in my humble opinion, and stolen the entire CD in the process.

The end of our short trip is “All I Know Is Rock ‘n’ Roll” and has a really strong Beatles “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite” kind of feel. It is like that - Reader Weekly- Andrew Olson

"High School Album Review"

Throughout the often tumultuous and storied histories of the Hard Rock and Heavy Metal genres, the state of Minnesota has produced numerous highly talented (if not historic) artists and groups. With acts ranging from American Head Charge, The Jayhawks, Prince, and Soul Asylum each offering an unnervingly diverse (and in some cases, significantly skewered) take on their own often widely varied influences, the possibilities, it seemed, were endless. However, despite this, few of these artists have effectively delivered music that could (in my ever so humble opinion, at least) be truly described as “pure” or “straight-up” Rock ’n’ Roll, a factor that has left many ultimately unsatisfied.

Fortunately for all parties involved, the Duluth, MN-based trio The Alrights have at long last arrived with a solution to the madness at hand.

On the brilliant High School, an expertly assembled thirteen song collection of impossibly spirited Hard Rock, each track, beginning with the rollicking, fuzz-tone-laden “Call Her Name”, and the tongue-in-cheek (albeit maddeningly infectious) “Heaven Sends Her Regards”, immediately commands the undivided attention of even the most jaded and unimaginative of listeners (myself most definitely included) with a seamless, mostly mid-tempo barrage of soaring vocals, thought-provoking guitars (trust me!) and imaginatively soulful rhythms that (despite being somewhat geographically isolated) are, without a doubt, quite easily worthy of the highest of critical and commercial accolades.

Continuing with the simplistic (yet oddly compelling) “In A Way”, and the lilting quasi-ballad “If It Is A Dream”, the steadfast (to say the very least) combination of vocalist/guitarist Toby Churchill, bassist/vocalist Danny Cosgrove and drummer Chad “Chavo” Amborn steamrolls forward at an occasionally feverish pace, effectively capitalizing on the grassroots momentum of the groups often-troubled (albeit much-celebrated) past, further solidifying an already burgeoning (and undoubtedly hard-earned) reputation as a creative force not to be ignored amid the hopelessly inbred (anyone remember the Black Eeyed Snakes or Puddle Wonderful?) Twin Ports “scene”.

Co-produced and engineered by the acclaimed Dave Hill at the now infamous Superior, WI-based Inland Sea Studios, other standouts, including the utterly stunning “Validation”, and the equally impressive, Jazz-infused “Alright By Me”, offer further sonic evidence (though at this point, with the inescapable presence of such an impressive pedigree, none is actually needed) in support of the almost unbelievable wealth of lyrical and musical wizardry at the smoldering epicenter of each breathtaking composition. Thus, even the inclusion of arguably marginal material such as the uncharacteristically dark “Jump For Joy” fail to subtract from the overall festive mood within.

Even if you somehow find yourself unable to openly embrace the groups refreshingly unique (if not completely unparalleled) blend of retro Rock ingenuity and pure Pop sensibilities (think The Beatles meets “Mama Said” era Lenny Kravitz), one must, at the very least, sincerely admire the dedication, enthusiasm and integrity each track has obviously been so painstakingly crafted with. If you are looking (and we sincerely hope that you are) for a user-friendly alternative to the painfully mindless “Nu Metal” and Rap-inspired insanity that invariably surrounds us all, then this little guilty pleasure might just be the cure for what ails you. Trust me, my friends, you won’t be disappointed.

- Todd Newton


*EP Release - Meeting of the St. Louis County League of Volunteer Astronauts: Excerpts from the Keynote Address (2007 City Canyons Records)

*LP Release - High School (2006 City Canyons Records)



The Alrights delve into a lot, musically speaking. Toby Churchill, the group's frontman and singer/songwriter, incorporates various styles, often times, co-mingling genres. Inevitably, the band's "sound" can vary from song to song, sometimes a great deal. One tune may be the band's take on a modern folk sound, while another is driven by distorted guitars and heavy beats. Some tracks are more ambient and ethereal, others, raw and exposed. Amidst this broad amalgamated sound, however, lyrics and melody are often the stand-out feature in any given song.

The band formed in the summer of 2003, although its members have known each other and played together for much longer. In the fall of 2005, after extensive gigging, The Alrights signed a record deal with City Canyons Records in New York City. The band has since begun to tour more extensively, are in the process of building a national audience, and has shared the stage with many many fine acts including Retribution Gospel Choir (featuring Al Sparhawk of Low) and Motion City Soundtrack.