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Record Reviews

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Marvels of Industry: CD
I’ll be honest; I’d hear friends of mine talk about how much they love The Arrivals, but then I’d watch them at The Fest, and I just couldn’t get into it. Down the line, I even heard a few more random songs, thought they were pretty good. So I decide to really sit down with this record, and I get it now. These are melancholy anthems, not poppy songs about milkshakes—a record to help you take solace after overcoming daily struggles (making me realize why seeing them for the first time at a show like The Fest may leave you a little bummed). Plus, it kind of made me feel like a pirate. –Joe Evans III (Recess)

Marvels of Industry: CD
I have such high expectations for this Chicago band, so I was a little nervous about hearing the new songs for the first time. I was not disappointed, not even a little. The first track on this album, titled “I’m Sorry for Saying I’m Sorry,” is one of those songs that gets crammed into your head when you’re at work and you have to very sneakily listen to it from your mp3 player while you act like you are not listening to one of the best rock songs out this year. If you have the chance to see them play any of the songs from this album live, you need to skip whatever it is you are doing to go see them. They not only made a great album, but they know how to execute a stupendous show that will leave you with all those honey-dipped little feelings you hope for when you go out on a school night. I feel nothing but glory from this album. Nice job, gentlemen. C. Marie –Guest Contributor (Recess)

Marvels of Industry: CD
Top ten of 2007. There can’t be ten other records that eclipse it. No fucking way. The Arrivals have been flirting with making this LP for a long, long time and they hit the bull’s-eye. (And their first two LPs didn’t slouch in the slightest. See cover of Razorcake #12.) You see, in a different time and place, they’d just be known as a well-loved, hard-rocking band. Their talent and passion is obvious. But in this modern world where people want their music to come through robotic filters and PR firms, to fit into a microgenre that’ll be praised then reproached in the span of a year, they’re an anomaly: a band who can just as easily play blues and blaze through covers of “Hot for Teacher,” but have chosen the strongest voice—their own. With Marvels of Industry, both Isaac and Little Dave’s voices seem more strident, the words blooming and booming from their throats, distinct and electric. I still contend that Ronnie’s one of the best drummers I’ve ever seen; he’s like a gorilla who both mauls and protects his kit; I swear he’s got an extra arm tucked away somewhere. And with the addition of Paddy Costello of the perpetually “we’re recording soon” Dillinger Four on bass, I think the Arrivals have written and performed America’s next national anthem in fourteen verses. Well, for me at least. Wow. –Todd Taylor (Recess)

Northern Hospitality: 4 Song-CDEP

The Arrivals are, without question, my favorite band that I’ve heard in the past year and a half, if not longer. You probably have no idea who they are. You’re not alone. In that time I’ve met two people who have heard them. Two. I was just lucky enough to have someone play them for me after playing with them in Chicago. I was extremely nervous about listening to Northern Hospitality, since to say their full length, Goodbye, New World has been in more than heavy rotation would be so much more than an understatement. I should’ve known better. It kicks my ass for a good solid eight minutes and I keep going back for more. They actually pull off being a band, in the manner that they feed off of one another. Each member is integral to what they create, and what they create is some of the best music out there. Live, you can see how they play off one another, whether it’s their own material or a Van Halen cover thrown in for fun (Say what you will, Van Halen is hard to play!) The lyrics (when you can fully decipher what’s being said) are both intelligent and written to work perfectly with Isaac and Dave’s cadence, but the balance between vocals and music is done so well that the vocals become just another instrument in the equation. “Hearts in the Right Places” is a bittersweet love song done acoustic, but somehow it’s still rough. Two of the tracks will be on their next release, Songs in the Key of Obligation, which hopefully frees them from Thick so they can get a label who knows how to promote them even just little. Get your hands on anything you can find by these guys. Your life will be better for it, well at least your record collection.

–Megan Pants (Thick)

Exsenator Orange: CD
I kept hearing about how good this band was so I decided to crawl out of my hole in the ground and check them out. "Good" is the understatement of the year. Most people use the n-word (Naked Raygun) to describe the Arrivals, and that sound is definitely there, but I actually hear more Radon than anything else. Using the least geeky terms possible, both bands make real music for real people, people who don't give two shits about trends or popularity and play their music like it's the most natural thing in the world. This is everything that you could want in a band: honesty, sincerity, creativity, and truckloads of the rock and roll. –Josh (Thick)

Goodbye New World: CD
Hell yeah. These ears are always thirsty for great music that rocks in new ways. The Arrivals amaze me. Their lyrics are whipsmart, heartfelt, and honest. The instruments crackle like unharnessed lightning and contain an untraceable chemical that has me reaching for the repeat button again and again. What gets me is how catchy they are without being either too simple and boneheaded about it, and the songs are relatively complicated, but they make the music flow so easily and forcefully. With bands like The Arrivals, I get the feeling that it’s four guys playing the exact same song for the exact same reason at the exact same time. That may seem like a real obvious thing, but it’s not. How many bands do you see or hear, and it sounds like they’re going for an effect or are aping an already stripped sound, or they endlessly tinker, or the individual members can’t wait to boost themselves in the mix? Far too many. Not only are The Arrivals technically tight, they’re seamless. The result is pure propulsion, complete charge, a completely new take on punk that jettisons cliche. Take the solid fuel rocket boosters of Naked Raygun, bolt it through an honest sounding voice (a strong, sure, non-mimicking one), structure the songs so they sound instantly classic, yet couldn’t have been made ten years ago (fuck if I know how they do it), and dash in a little Dillinger Four (I’ll never say that lightly), and let it all sizzle and pop. Don’t let the emo-y, bulb-setting blur-fest picture on the cover steer you wrong. This is crystal clear explosion. Snatch this fucker up. It’s fantastic. –Todd Taylor (Thick)

Volatile Molotov: LP
One of the Grand Punk Paradoxes for me is this: I have loved punk rock for the past twenty-five years on a continual basis. I continue to love punk rock. Yet the music, the form, the approach, the culture, the intent, the delivery—practically everything about it—has fundamentally morphed away from its origins somewhere in the late ‘70s. So, if the Ramones, The Bags, The Weirdos, and the Clash are punk, and punk died, what’s left? (Punk’s death is something I don’t believe. I do believe that punk dies in people and that if you repeat something enough times, regardless of truth, people start believing it.) Are punks in their late thirties—too young to surf the first wave, but old enough to put a lifetime in—delusional? Merely hangers-on? Leeches attached to ghosts of nostalgia? No one seriously talks about a wide-scale punk music revolution anymore. Almost every lifer punk I know doesn’t even look like what when someone from the outside shuts their eyes and imagines a punk rocker. But no other term has come along, no other label’s ever stuck. Saying that it’s “music” is too broad; like the term “world music” is just fuckin’ stupid and racist (because I don’t know any bands that have recorded in outer space yet, all music is world music). Digging into smaller and smaller subgenres doesn’t do anyone any good. Parts further isolated will eventually be mocked, suffocated, and destroyed. The Arrivals bring all of this thinking to the forefront. Bar none, they are one of my favorite bands, and have been since their debut Goodbye New World, in 2000. So, I could say, “They’re so much more than punk,” but why divorce them from my favorite form of music so some squares will have fewer wrong preconceived notions and may actually give a wonderful band a chance? I want to celebrate it, bar none, not serve it on a clean plate to fancy, fickle people who mostly suck anyhow. So I came up with a quick, personally helpful device. If someone calls any band that I like “punk,” and they mean it as a compliment, I’ll take it. If someone dismisses music as “just punk,” and they mean it as a slag, that they’ve got the entire enterprise figured out and it’s now a waste of anyone’s time, they can go fuck themselves. With all that mind, The Arrivals have just made one of the best records—and have one of the strongest catalogs—of any band in the past ten years. Punk or not. It’s a big, fat fuckin’ paradox. –Todd Taylor (Recess)

Split: 7”
The Arrivals are one of the best bands in the entire world. They make music so good you can cry to it and, when the song ends, you have a smile on your face. Sometimes I forget how weird they are, but then they do something really weird and it’s pure magic. If you’re not familiar with this band, don’t start here. Get your hands on any—and all—of their full-lengths. Doing a split 7” with the Arrivals is a ballsy move, but The Arteries bring it with their two songs. A little more of the EpiFat sound than I’m used to, but it’s heartfelt and energetic. Mandatory tracks from both bands. Hunt this one down. –Daryl Gussin (All In Vinyl)

Split: 7"
I picked this up for The Arrivals and wound up a big fan of The Arteries. Go figure. It’s not at all as if The Arrivals’ songs aren’t rad, because they are. It’s The Arrivals, man! I’d never heard The Arteries and was instantly impressed. The two bands aren’t unlike. In fact, seeing them play together would be pretty great. I might have to go looking for the other volumes in the split 7” series. –Ty Stranglehold (All In Vinyl)

ARRIVALS, THE: Volatile Molotov: LP:
Volatile Molotov: LP
If the last record made me feel like a pirate (because of songs for the working class through eyes that are both brutally honest, yet romantic), this one feels like I’ve come ashore, only to find that all that’s left is a post-apocalyptic wasteland. There are a lot of songs about the end of the world, and coping; musically ranging from thrashers like “Two Years” to the more anthemic and beautiful “The Last Testament” that feel like they’re slowly building up to something really big. I say it’s a masterpiece. If this is what’s going to be playing as the world comes to an end, I say bring on 2012. –Kristen K (Recess)

All the Little Ones Are Rotting: CD
Just your run-of-the-mill ska-punk outfit. What points they may have earned by maintaining their DIY status they lost the moment the first song started. There was an “enhanced” portion to this disc, but I wasn’t feeling masochistic enough to subject myself to it. –Jimmy Alvarado (www.asobrock.com)

All of Them Witches: CD
I was going to call this “anarcho-flamenco punk,” but I don’t think what Arroyo Deathmatch plays is technically flamenco. There’s a definite Spanish feel to it and there’s a lot of flute work and there are moments that made me think of The Spirit of the Beehive. But, really, this is just a standard, excruciating folk-punk record—ostensibly radical/populist/authentic, though in truth it’s contrived and ridiculous and completely at odds with what people actually listen to. You get one singer who sounds like Chuck Ragan and another who sounds like John Darnielle, basically a lumberjack and an accountant screaming at you about straight edge and voting over acoustic fast-core with prog time shifts. I groaned and rolled my eyes, even when the band did something sort of cool like make an album without the use of electricity (you wonder how they manufactured the CDs and the answer is naturally occurring forest disc-burners running on syrup and good vibes). Another bohemian punkhouse vanity project, light years away from Wallace Berman or any of the real cool outliers.  –Matt Werts (Self-released, arroyodeathmatch.bandcamp.com)

Through the Fear of It: CD
Besides a ukulele, drums, and three vocalists, this band is comprised of a flute, a washboard, and an instrument they created (a bejota) that kind of looks like a banjo but doesn’t sound exactly like it. They describe themselves as anarcho punk folk and belong to a music collective. Do I really need to spell this out for you?  –Kurt Morris (Goathead, goathead.record.collective@gmail.com)

Self-titled: CD
Dark and gothicky. Imagine, if you will, the screwed-up offspring of Glen Danzig putting together a band, but they’re a bit more sensitive to human relationships than their Father of Doom. These could be some really interesting songs (I particularly like “The Part that Hurts”—less gloom and a bit more rock on that one), but as it stands the band just isn’t all that tight. I suspect that they might be a much better live band than this record indicates, but the recording is held back by juvenilely simplistic drumming of spotty quality. With time and practice AOTR could be an innovative and enthralling band—they’ve already achieved a level of subtly layered complexity—but the sloppiness of certain points is too much to ignore. –The Lord Kveldulfr (no label: www.myspace.com/arsenicontherocks)

Too True to Be Good: CD
Comprising the bulk of this is really annoying pop punk filled with just enough market demo targeting and emo pretense to make the whole thing feel about as “real” as Justin Timberlake playing a tough guy. The lyrics, which try to be relevant but really don’t succeed in being anything other than a vapid attempt at being conscious yet unthreatening, don’t help matters much, either. –Jimmy Alvarado (Mad at the World)

Bridges Down: CD
After many years of listening to a variety of bands, you can’t help but instantly peg a band to sound like someone. Thirty seconds in, I assumed immediately that I knew this is what it sounds like to me. A band that I have been a fan of since their first 7”, this band sounds so much like Good Riddance that I almost thought I was listening to one of their CDs. Beer can do that to you. If you need another band to compare this to, I would have to say Only Crime. –Donofthedead (Mad at the World)

Bridges Down: CD
Boy howdy, do I like the Arson’s first record, Full Life Crisis. Anthemic, melodic, and almost flawless in a Strong Reaction Pegboy sort of way. With Bridges Down, there are flashes of their early work, but two elements have put flies in the taffy. 1.) Guitar solos all over the fucking place. Ungh. Go Yngwie Malmsteen on your own time. 2.) The desire to mix hardcore tempos into Jawbox-like breakdowns and prettiness. Both of these elements drag the songs out, dilute the initial impact, and ultimately give off the impression of a band not quite sure what they want to do as a cohesive unit. Unfortunately, my lasting impression of Bridges Down—which I listened to fifteen times over two months to see if it’d grow on me—was this: it’s just boring. I wanted to like this. –Todd Taylor (Mad at the World)

Degeneration: CD
A truly pathetic aping of mid-period Megadeth packaged as some sort of new direction in heavy metal. God, this sucked bad. –Jimmy Alvarado (www.arsyn.com)

Degeneration: CD
A truly pathetic aping of mid‑period Megadeth packaged as some sort of new direction in heavy metal. God, this sucked bad. –Jimmy Alvarado (Arsyn)

Screaming over the Dull Roar: Cassette
I’ve listened to this live demo countless times since it showed up in my mailbox, but still don’t know how I feel about this band. Their sound is a fusion of early ‘80s post punk and new wave, which sounds—on the surface—like something I’d be into. Many of the songs on this though, felt almost mind-numbingly monotonous. Thankfully, flipping the tape over to Program Two offered some refreshing changes of pace, including faster tempos and more interesting riffs, as on the track “The New Math.” The closing track “Pills & Alcohol” was also quite good, featuring some of the best riffs and a healthy dose of guitar wankery. Ultimately, I think what made it difficult for me to like this as much as I might have was the terrible quality of the live recording. With a proper recording fleshing out this band’s sound more fully, I might be into it, but my feelings about this live recording are lukewarm at best. –Paul J. Comeau (artinstitute.bandcamp.com)

People Like It When You Fail: LP
The band name is apropos—a lotta “art” pumped into the sound of a band that isn’t afraid to dive into the post-punk pool and do their best to avoid coming off like yet another Gang Of Four tribute band “addicted to the drug of nostalgia.” Tunes are sophisticated, diverse, and only a wee bit pretentious at times. The singer occasionally sounds reminiscent of Lee Reynaldo. –Jimmy Alvarado (Artificial Head)

Self-titled: CD
This is one of those instances when one can’t help but wonder if the person responsible for sending the discs out has ever bothered to look at a single issue of any of the mags he sent them to. Mostly mellow stuff that sounds like Stephen Bishop trying vainly to be Tom Waits. Nice musicianship, snoozy tunes.  –Jimmy Alvarado (www.theartofwalking.com)

The Law: 7”
A very little bit of history about this Boston band, based on the info contained on the insert: The two tracks here date back to a cassette compilation released in 1981, which looks to be the only release they were involved with back when they were active (the two songs here and two more also appeared on 2007’s Boston Underground 1979-82 compilation, according to the Kill from the Heart website) and this release is dedicated to one of the members, who died in 2010. “The Law” is a whip-smart slice of sophisticated pop brilliance that recalls a less abrasive Mission Of Burma. “Something in Your Eyes” is a bit slower, more experimental and akin to 100 Flowers, maybe. Both, however, retain a sense of freshness and vitality that often eludes the lion’s share of their peers, which I guess translates to the fact that this has that much-ballyhooed “timeless” factor to it and I’d bet dollars to donuts that folks would shit their pants if this were a contemporary band. Looks like this is limited to three hundred copies, but it’s definitely worth the mad dash. –Jimmy Alvarado (Ride The Snake)

Texas Idiot: CD
Oi-ish mid-tempo punk tunes covering Bush, Jehovah’s Witnesses, “anorexic princess of pop,” and skateboarding. Songs are pretty good for what they are, but the mix leaves them sounding a tad flat. –Jimmy Alvarado (www.afs.me.uk)

New Normal Catastrophe: 12” EP
Bit of a surprise finding this in the bins. For those not in the know, this revered Chicago hardcore band hasn’t been active in at least twenty-five years and this recording shows they haven’t lost that spark that made ‘em so special. While the thrashing’s a bit tempered compared to the full-bore days of Buy This War, the righteous anger, topicality, and intelligence are still very much in evidence, and they can still mix it up quite nicely when they see fit. The real treat, though, is when they slow it down a bit and dabble in melody and sonic layering, coming up with something that straddles the line between later Hüsker Dü and the very early period before “emo” became a sad cliché. Faboo return to form and it’s definitely nice to have ‘em back. –Jimmy Alvarado (Alternative Tentacles)

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