Alchalant has released a disc that’s really two discs in one. The first half of the album consists of new recordings by the artist known as “alchalant.” After some silence mid-disc, a second album, a recording of the band Nonchalant (with alchalant as lead singer) is presented. Where the first half seems to be very DIY in terms of production (and sometimes sound) the second half is more classic punk rock.
After a short rhythm section intro, “Better Off Dead” powers out into a hard rocking, punk cut. Although the central song structure is set in an old school punk motif, there are some bits of keyboards that lend a different sound and a guitar solo movement is almost art-rock in style.
While the arrangement on “Control” seems more stripped down and DIY in terms of production, the anger and power of the cut stands above the previous number. There’s a real crazed feeling with some of the spoken vocals later. It feels very psychotic in some ways. There’s a killer instrumental section later, too.
“LL” is the title of the third track and it stands for “Loco Land.” It’s a fun and very short piece. It’s less punk rock and more just weird. “Binary” follows and has a real indie rock texture to it. It still retains some of the odd charm of the previous number, but is more accessible. It’s also a lot longer. There are even bits of space rock in the arrangement.
“National Blues 2011” is like hardcore punk. It’s a real screamer both in terms of the vocals and the pace. “Nightmares” is closer to an emo sound. It would be easy to imagine this getting airplay. The bass line is killer in the way it wanders around in the backdrop and this one feels more polished than a lot of the other stuff.
The bass guitar is really out front and impressive on sections of “Dawn.” Although a lot of the album is set in a punk rock motif, this tune feels almost like a progressive rock number. It’s got some intriguing keyboard sounds and fairly complex arrangement. Acoustic guitar meets a real punk rock sensibility on “Bronchitis.”
Now, “Lyle’s Song” is more like old school punk rock. There’s a short little intro jam and then they launch into some smoking hot punk from there. It definitely has more of a “professional” mix. That makes sense because it’s the first piece from the Nonchalant album.
“Bandaids” is one of the coolest tracks on the set. It pounds in with an alternative rock kind of jam before launching into an angry punk rock arrangement. It’s high energy and extremely tasty. “Our Dreams” continues in the same basic vein, but it doesn’t have the same energy or charm. Still, it has a more accessible, nearly emo, chorus.
The next cut is here is the original version of “National Blues.” It still has all the hardcore punk energy and oomph and it’s a great. “No Fight No Win” has a real punk sound, but it also leans towards emo. It’s certainly not up to the same level as the previous tune. It does have a cool, more melodic, instrumental section.
The fast paced vocals on “Neglect the Heartbreak” are particularly noteworthy. The song has a solid punk rock sound that’s not as high energy as some of the others stuff, but is still strong. It’s got some seriously melodic elements to make up for any lack of energy and an interesting vocal arrangement. “Fee for Free” is full of punk fury to close this thing in style. It includes both an almost Black Sabbath-like grind and a tasty melodic interlude.
Punk rock can be a limited musical endeavor in terms of scope. The music here stretches the limits beyond punk, but still manages to remain consistent. Certainly fans of punk rock and emo are the most likely target audience for this set, but alternative rock fans could find a lot to like here, too. If there’s a problem, it’s with the production on the first half. Then again, with this kind of music, that can be a plus, adding charm and credibility.
Review by G. W. Hill
Rating: 3.5 Stars (out of 5)
The history of alchalant dates back over 10 years to the band Nonchalant, the first punk rock band helmed by guitarist/vocalist Alex Matijow. Nonchalant had some minor success before going dormant and coming back to life as alchalant. The new name derives from a combination of Matijow's first name and the word nonchalant.
The band plays a diverse brand of poppy punk rock that fairly bounces off the walls with energy and spirit. The major drawback to alchalant's material is that it has all been done before many, many times. One doesn't need doses of space rock, polka, bagpipes and dubstep to make punk rock work, but a little innovation wouldn't hurt.
The first eight tracks here comprise alchalant's new material for 2011-2012, while the generous helping of 7 bonus tracks is actually the first Nonchalant record released back in 2002. The newer material is smoother sounding and a bit more melodic, but there's no real drastic difference between the old and new material.
"Better Off Dead" is quirky pop punk with the emphasis on the pop instead of the punk and some odd touches of electronics around the fringes. "Control" has a leaner, sparser sound with more punk energy and very strong hooks. It sounds like its being played by an altogether angrier band than "Better Off Dead" and these more aggressive songs are really where alchalant shines. The album's diversity becomes apparent on the next track "LL", which is almost a ska/cowpunk mixture and very brief in duration.
The remainder of the "new" material flies all over the map. "Binary" and "Bronchities" are very snotty, melodic punk with rather trite and overdone vocals from Alex. He sounds much more natural and less forced on the thrashy rager "National Blues 2011" and bouncy "Nightmares". Then "Dawn" is a stripped down, smoky cut with appealing melody
After 12 CD tracks of silence, the older Nonchalant material shows a rawer version of alchalant that is not quite so diverse but perhaps more appealing to the straight up punk because of that. "Bandaids", "Fee For Free" and the earlier version of "National Blues" are all fast, rough and ready, sounding like a band that just wants to plug in and rock out.
It's all delivered efficiently and with a lot of passion, but so many bands are already treading the same territory as alchalant, it's going to be hard for these guys to really make a mark.
Review by Mike Korn
Rating: 3 Stars (out of 5)
LONG FORM BIO: alchalant
By Nick DeRiso
Before alchalant set about trying to revitalize the “rock” part in their hometown’s famous nickname of Detroit “Rock” City, before the new album, before leader Alex Matijow even began working with the band’s other two members, he had a moment of clarity.
All of those goals were set back in 2008, amidst a moment of blinding pain. Riding home after a night of drinking, Matijow suffered a near-death experience after crashing his bicycle. He walked away, but just barely, with a broken nose, five cracked teeth, an upper lip split up to his nose … and a brand-new grasp on what his goals should have been all along.
Alex refocused on what was important to him, and that started with rock music and alchalant. The band, a muscular mix of 1990s rock and punk, will begin touring the Midwest in the summer of 2012 behind a new self-titled record, available now on iTunes and through the alchalant.com site.
Compared favorably to Social Distortion, the Clash, Green Day and Offspring, the Detroit-based outfit mirrors its frontman’s steely intensity. The goal is to push, and push hard, on the boundaries of rock by mixing in hardcore, metal, even elements of improvisational music.
In a way, Matijow has been doing just that from the very beginning. Like most kids, the young Matijow listened to Disney soundtracks – in his case, “Aladdin” and “The Lion King” – as well as John Williams’ resounding score for “Star Wars.” Later, Matijow’s parents took him to see a number of rock concerts, and he grew to admire Detroit legends like Alice Cooper and Iggy Pop. By the age of 8, Matijow had immersed himself in the Clash and Nine Inch Nails.
The guitar followed at age 12, and Matijow formed a punk-rock band called Nonchalant three years later. As a 16 year old, he’d help oversee the band’s debut, Break the Lamp with producer Eric DiBerardo – who’d previously worked with Sheryl Crow, as well as sidemen for Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson. A solo effort called nocturnal followed, again with DiBerardo producing.
By then, Matijow had already picked up the sarcastic nickname “alchalant” – a combination of his first name and the word nonchalant, meaning to act with indifference. Of course, the aggressive stage presence of this ambitious teen was anything but indifferent. But Matijow chose to embrace his peer’s sarcastic criticism, appropriating the name and then using it for his band in the manner of Alice Cooper, Marilyn Manson, Iggy Pop and David Bowie.
At first, alchalant was simply an umbrella description for Alex’s complex but completely solo musings. A deeply talented musical force, Matijow has already earned a bachelor’s degree in music production and jazz guitar from Wayne State University, where he is now pursuing an MBA. Along the way, he had played trumpet in the Michigan State University marching band, and undertaken formal voice training with Dennis Tini at Wayne State, as well.
So, composing and recording alchalant’s self-titled eight-song 2011 debut – along with arranging, mixing and mastering the project – all alone came naturally. The project also served as a template to be developed further once Matijow finally decided to construct a working band.
Matijow was eventually joined by bassist and vocalist Todd Errion and drummer Chris Hobbs, who got together through social networking circles. Alex knew Hobbs from grade school, and the two had played together in the school symphony. Todd met Matijow in 2005, but had worked previously as a lead guitarist in the metal band Glutton For Punishment. Errion switched to bass for this new project with Alex, after discovering new challenges in the jazz-influenced grooves Matijow had already laid down on the album alchalant. Hobbs, who found youthful inspiration in Tom Everett Scott’s performance in the film “That Thing You Do!,” brings in influences from a lifelong passion for Sublime. Errion’s edge comes from his own deep appreciation for Slayer and Metallica.
Together, they have uncovered new wrinkles to Matijow’s initial vision for alchalant.
There’s the dark sarcasm of “Better Off Dead,” an anti-love song; and the brutal honesty of “National Blues” – a fan favorite that Matijow wrote in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. But there’s also the fun-loving “LL (Loco Land),” a tribute to alchalant’s libation of choice – Four Loko; and the geeky romanticism of “Binary,” a ballad build around computer code.
As cutting and deep as they are outgoing and approachable, alchalant has quickly found a brawny new intricacy. Still, the band’s most complete statement of purpose is probably “Dawn,” a track about making the most of your talents – and always living life to the fullest. It’s a concept Matijow confronted on that scary bike ride four years ago, and something he’s now fully realizing alongside Errion and Hobbs in alchalant.
Four songs from the band’s new self-titled recording are available at alchalant.com, as are selected other songs from Matijow’s past catalog. The group also has feature pages at
For more information, contact Matijow at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Nick DiReso