Review: AARON KUSTERER – EP A Little Louder /2023/ self-released

January 8, 2024

Original post (Czech language):


There was a time when American-style hard rock got on my nerves. He blended in with the hair metal wave that was very trendy at the time, and he got a rather undeserved thumbs up from me according to the principle of collective guilt, fall to whom fall. The truth is that commercial and diluted pop metal irritates me to this day, honest hard rock has undergone a thorough rehabilitation in my ears. The first step to reassessing my radical attitude was getting a taste for EXTREME's second album called "Pornograffitti". I'm not talking about him by chance, "A Little Louder" reminds me quite strongly of him with its stylistically free concept and natural playfulness.

Aaron is not a beginner's ear, in addition to making music, he has been in the music business for over twenty years as a producer, studio engineer and manager, so he knows very well what the LA hamburger is. "A Little Louder" is a technically flawless affair, a superbly performed as well as produced EP. On the other hand, it's nothing that breaks established stereotypes, which I don't mind at all. Rock professorship, the unmistakable influences of greats like VAN HALEN, WINGER, Joe Satriani, the already mentioned EXTREME (I'm sure I've forgotten some, but that's normal for me), practically cannot disappoint, even if one never knows. Sometimes there may not be as much to find behind technical perfection as it seems at the beginning. However, "A Little Louder" also scores in terms of content, the quartet of songs contains a considerable amount of various stylistic influences, organically connected with a solid rock base and does not avoid elegant pop moods with a jazz flavor, as we know from TOTO, for example. "A Little Louder" is definitely not rock fast food or a couple of hastily and effect-glued ideas of a low level. The spontaneous "Only Be Me" provides the start, the sharpened passages intertwine with rolling, rounded choruses and energy-filled solos. "Learning To Feel" is more about groove and dance vibes (which is a stretch to say for a rock piece, but in this case it fits like a casserole lid), underpinned by a hit chorus and an infectiously upbeat vibe. "Your Road" takes its mood all the way to AOR, and the velvety-elegant plane of Aaron's songwriting gets the most space. "Leaves" puts it under the hard rock cauldron again and without unnecessary frills and manages to wrap the listener around its finger with an effortless elegance.

They say that perfection and boredom are very close to each other. "A Little Louder", however, although it is extremely sophisticated in terms of craftsmanship and thinks about every production detail, it successfully avoids bored yawning. Each of the songs is a little bit about something different, while they perfectly complement each other to form a short, yet very varied and very nourishing collection for the listener. I'm not one of those people who wear this style a lot and are immersed in it for several hours a day, but I'm in the mood for it quite regularly. And if, in addition, I come across a skilled and, above all, talented musician, as Aaron undoubtedly is, there is nothing to solve.