With the Ex and Thee Scarcity of Tanks. Saturday, December 16, at the Grog Shop.

It's an ironic achievement that Some Echoes, Aloha's most fully realized disc in its nine-year history, came after the members of this former Cleveland quartet scattered hundreds of miles apart. The succinct opener "Brace Your Face" as well as the strutting "Big Morning" are informed by the jazz-styled rhythms of Aloha's past efforts, but the group has stripped 'em bare of all unnecessary flourishes. Plunky marimba and Wurlitzer accompaniments stand in where there was once a wash of vibraphone, giving room to the subtlety of the songs themselves. When "Between the Walls," the record's best, moves from a delicately harmonized opening to a cowbell-banging triumph (think Macca's Wings), the fact that there's no one wanking reveals just how much the band has matured. Maybe the distance allowed this to happen: Conversations between small-talking neighbors ramble far more than letters between separated lovers.
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