“A to Z” is the new single from Hawaiian power trio Executive Order is urgent rock music for modern audiences. There’s none of the posing and predictable idiosyncrasies of a glorified tribute band present in the band’s stalwart mix of bass, guitar, drums, and vocals. They touch on familiar notes and themes, yes, but dispatch those long-accepted qualities with singular style. It’s the difference between acts pandering to the lowest common denominator and those attempting to reclaim time-tested forms as vehicles for personal statement. Front man and lyricist Joseph Olson, guitarist Rich Elg, and bassist James Anthony Hewahewa Christian possess genuine chemistry from the beginning and keep it going for the entirety of the track.
Olson’s words and vocals give “A to Z” much of its character. The lyrics are a fluent cut alive with intelligence and possibly underestimated wit; it fits the arrangement as well thanks to word choice. The band’s songwriting obviously places importance on percussive words that help underline the song’s musical qualities. There are some minor flaws in the way they approach the performance, but none are grievous or compromise the listening experience. It is likely the album All Bleed Red measures up overall with the quality present in this track.
You can hear a whiff of their environment coming through in the music. “A to Z”, despite its rough and ready sound, is a relentlessly upbeat track reflective of Hawaii’s sunny climate. Elg’s guitar work is the best musical part of the song. He moves with sure-footed balance between rhythm guitar with a sturdy backbone and blistering lead guitar. Christian’s bass matches much of Elg’s guitar but he makes it an equal priority to sync in with the drums.
Listen to All Bleed Red on Spotify. Executive Order · Album · 2020 · 10 songs.
The up-tempo pace doesn’t take much in the way of a breather. There’s never any feeling, however, of Executive Order rushing things. The fast pace they adopt is a natural fit for the track and never challenges the band to keep up. Olson, in particular, matches it with particularly effective and varied phrasing. “A to Z”, as well, never comes across as self-indulgent. It has a near-perfect running time.
Intelligence and passion are present throughout each part of the song. The “future” for rock music hasn’t ever been how to build a better mousetrap, how to “evolve”, but instead find an ever more perfect union between the head and heart. It is the abiding faith of any dyed in the wool rock fan that three chords and the truth remain the ultimate musical vehicle for conveying a message and anyone who loves Executive Order believes, to the core of their being, in that idea.
Executive Order is a seasoned act with the band members boasting many years playing music. They play, though, with a sense of discovery. There is rambunctiousness in this song that’s tempered by the years and artistry and it sits side by side with a vibrant personality that comes through from the first. Executive Order’s “A to Z” is bright, a blast, and an ever timely reminder of rock music’s enduring power.