• Writer William A Mayer
  • Pub Co: Mailman Music
  • Admin: Non-cdbaby
  • Writer Steven Martin Stasny III
  • Pub Co: Mailman Music
  • Admin: Non-cdbaby
  • Writer Paul Elliot Callaway III
  • Pub Co: Mailman Music
  • Admin: Non-cdbaby
  • Writer James Allen Hillegonds Jr.
  • Pub Co: Mailman Music
  • Admin: Non-cdbaby


James Allen Hillegonds Jr., Paul Elliot Callaway III, Steven Martin Stasny III, William A Mayer


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United States - Indiana

I Fear
  • Performed By: Alison's Mailbox
  • Album: Highland
  • Album UPC: 889211722594
  • Album ID: alisonsmailbox4
  • Label: S & T Records
  • CD Baby Account: CDB04848949
  • CD Baby Track ID: TR0001711265
  • ISRC: QM4CZ1500019
  • Released: 07/03/97

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The band's first full length album, named after their hometown in a fitting tribute to their success. A 12 track set (and an 18 minute-plus hypnotizing hidden track) ranging in Alternative Rock genres and produced in a George Martin-like fashion.


Since they took first place in The Beat Magazine's first ever "Battle Of The Bands" a few years ago, I have watched this talented young Highland, IN band mature from a fledgling group of starry-eyed teens, into a serious rock "n' roll outfit with all the necessary elements to thrust them into the big leagues. Those elements being a strong sense of purpose, unerring determination, cool business savvy, powerful instrumentation, a charismatic vocalist and a natural ability for writing ear-friendly material. All of that gels well on Highland, their first full-length set, of music for public consumption. Twelve "official" tracks are listed (but I'd listen longer if I were you). Mailbox showed their potential with a self-titled cassette-
only release two years ago that promised better things to come. That promise is kept here.

College level radio play on these shores and some commercial radio exposure in Europe (via inclusion on an industry-only Album Rock Network compilation CD) served to fuel the band's creative fires. Highland, named for their hometown, is a mixed bag of styles. Weaned upon Seattle grunge and heavy alternative rock, there is a strong sense of both those musics in A.M.' s sound. Now add into that blend, elements of two stylistic extremes - industrial heaviness and poppy commercial rock hooks. The hybrid result is unique, but yet familiar. No particular sound dominates - thus giving the band a sound totally unto themselves.

For instance, a subtle industrial feel (via a megaphone-filtered vocal chorus) mixes quite well with blatant pop sensibilities on a track like "Gone Away," a natural first choice for a radio single. Other contenders for single success would seem to be "Reasoned, " "Quite The Man," and "Secrets." Paul Callaway has a voice that is indelible and stylistic for the way he phrases his deliveries. His penchant for accenting words at odd intervals and breathy pauses at seemingly unnatural breaks' in lyrical lines gives Callaway his own persona, even those elements of Layne Staley (STP) and Shannon Hoon (Blind Melon) seem to trickle through on occasion.

Another strength here is that the band employs a powerful sense of dynamics: knowing full well when to pull out all breaks and knowing when to let softness envelope the song. This is best noted on tracks like
"Straight" and "Hail Bop." Guitarist Steve Stasny has really good tones - clean and dirty - and he capably handles rhythm and lead chores comfortably given the context of a given song. It's no secret he loves that distortion pedal. Check out Stasny's intro to the opening cut, "Reasoned," simple yet rockin'. Or his sustained fades in "Hide", great headphone stuff! Stasny may lack rock god flash, but his quirky nuances make his contributions to the mix invaluable. His style is tattooed all over this album.

Much of Mailbox'S material carries a chunky rhythmic progression and frequently alternating tempos with abrupt changes. Jim Hillegonds' bass work is responsible for the infectious groove that permeates songs like "Reasoned" and "Gone Away” well and supplies harmonies to Callaway's throaty vocals.

Drummer Billy Mayer seems a personification of The Muppet's "Animal" - with his bridled bashing about. This is not to suggest Mayer's a runaway freight train on the kit, or that when he lets loose (and does often) - watch out!

Creative kudos go to the boys for the innovative introduction on the hard rocking, "No Sunday," with it's scratchy record overtones. Fans of "heavy" will also want to check out "Hide.”

For a band just barely out high school, the music on “Highland’ stands shoulder to shoulder with the best of white collar radio is spoon-feeding us.

Delightfully packaged – from the adorable front cover to the inner sleeve photos and a poetic verse about their hometown, perky innocence turns harsh by the time we get to the back of the jewel box. There we see a bleak and barren main street. The haunting visual capably captures the lyrical feel of much of Highland. This is a band that needs to be heard!

Thomas, E. (1997, August). Alison’s Mailbox is poised to. The Beat Magazine, p. 5-6, 9.

Excerpt from the Chicago Tribune:
Alison's Mailbox Finds The Right Slot For Its Sound (November 21, 1997|By Lawrence Johnson. Special to the Tribune.)

For a band whose youngest member is only 19, Alison's Mailbox has already seen enough changes to make Fleetwood Mac's lineup look stable.

Formed after a chance meeting at a high school football game, the heavy-metal rockers from Highland, Ind., faced a major crisis last year with the departure of founding member and lead songwriter Jason Tarka and his brother Jeff, the group's bassist. The band seemed in danger of losing their budding identity and creative wellspring -- that is, until joined by bassist Jim Hillegonds, an old-timer (at 30) and a George Martin-like studio innovator.

"The entire band changed once Jimmy came in," says lead singer Paul Callaway, whose vocals give certain Mailbox songs a Jim Morrison feel. "Once Jimmy joined the band, we went into the studio and it was like, `Let's try anything because something really cool could come out.' And a lot of things did."

With the current lineup of lead singer Callaway, guitarist Steve Sasny, drummer Bill Mayer and bass player Hillegonds, the band's current techy, experimental style is a departure from the early grunge and Alice in Chains influences, which is apparent on the band's debut private label CD, "Highland."

By Callaway's own definition, the band "went crazy" in the studio, and Hillegonds proudly admits that the band utilized everything at their disposal to "to try different effects, to get a different feel for each song."

In addition to offering a hidden track on "Highland," the band experimented with different drum and microphone setups, hanging speakers upside down and using a single mike to get a primitive studio-jam atmosphere. The band also incorporated bizarre amps, sound effects and even creative use of vintage World War II field gear. "Steve had these old World War II walkie-talkies at his house," says Callaway. "On one of the tracks, he held it up to the mike and I was in the other room and I sang it through the walkie-talkie."

Adds Hillegonds, "On one we actually had a scratchy 45 that we kind of mangled, stepped on it, scratched it with a needle. On a song called `Secrets,' we took every guitar pedal that we owned and every effect thing that we had and we ran them all together all on full blast. The lick at the beginning of the song we just played over and over through the whole song with all those effects on and it got the weirdest sound."

Yet despite all the studio razzle-dazzle, Callaway says the main focus of the band is trying to find its own style as the band continues to evolve. And Callaway, the 20-year-old singer, contrasts the group's current, realistic attitude with the heady, not-too-distant high-school days.

"Back then the thing was to become a rock star as fast as you can," says Callaway. "Write some big songs and let's be popular. But right now, it's calmed down and it's about music. Just having a good time and doing things right."
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