Alaska! - Rescue Through Tomahawk (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


Rescue Through Tomahawk (2005)


The state of Alaska screams desolation. A sparse, bleak landscape that offers little more than snow and cold, it's really not the ideal place for inhabitance. Alaska! on the other hand, well that screams just the opposite. A warm, inviting indie rock record that's great to just sit down with, and sink in to. That's just what Imaad Wasif wants: He wants the subtle nuances of Rescue Through Tomahawk to embed themselves into your subconscious.

I don't think any descriptor better suits this album than honest. These 10 tracks, spanning a little over 50 minutes, fully encompass the trait of honesty, from Wasif's voice to the bass of Russ Pollard and the drums of Lesley Ishno. All ten songs have their own unique identity, while retaining the central themes and ideas that were prevalent at the outset. Wasif's contributions are as strong as they are sincere, using his voice to guide rather than overpower. He never over-asserts his place, and fits snugly just like an old baseball glove. He makes the lyrics relatively easy to comprehend, all the while maintaining at least a slight air of mystery in it all. Best exhibited in "Real Is Your Control," where he's able to work at both a slow and upbeat pace in the same song, his voice takes strong command when his guitar does not.

Another admirable trait in Wasif's corner is his superb work on the guitar on the album. Whether it's the quick pace of "C the Shape," or the far more mellow, morose efforts in "Through the Years," the tones and pace are always spot on. The discordant textures and mellow tones offer a stark contrast, without ever losing sight of the song's direction. The structures allow for some extended instrumental sections, but they come right back down before things ever get too far off the beaten path. Both "Through the Years" and "The Light" come close to ten minutes and duration, but they're also two of the best songs on the entire album, proving they've no problem keeping a listener interested.

The lyrics follow a pretty solid theme of urgency, a sense of confession, that drives them though the often unorthodox structures, the structures that value rhythm and feeling over the conventional three-minute rock song. It feels like a lot less than 50 minutes, once the album is finally over, after being carried out by the wrenching, acoustic "Stay."

There's just simply a lot to like about this release. And as I sit here, listening, trying to think of some negatives to balance this whole review out, I just can't find any. No matter the approach they take, Alaska! hit the mark in every facet of the album. From rock‘n'roll stylings to real strong indie rock songwriting, there's no holes to be found. Great rhythms and melodies, with the vocals and instrumentation to match, Alaska!'s latest effort is a warm, inviting foray into music that will keep you away from those cold nights, with nothing to look at and nothing to strive for.