These days everything reminds me of The Fest. Todays memory comes from release FSR001 by Anchor Arms, reminding me that I missed the Fail Safe warehouse show last year because I couldnt find a ride across town. While that intro had all too little to do with the band themselves, Anchor Arms do call Gainesville home and they utilize a lot of the sounds familiar to other bands from the region.
The band shows a lot of influences: Westcoast punk, No Idea, and Tiltwheel all came to mind at different times while listening to this the first time. I thought of more reference points as I continued listening. Despite a lot of similarities to other bands, Anchor Arms are writing their own songs - they arent merely replicating their favorite records, theyre melding their influences together and having fun without trying to reinvent anything. They sound like a part of the scene, a fact not overlooked by the frequent lyrical use of we. You could just label them as another Gainesville band and move on, but Anchor Arms set themselves apart with more harmonies and pop influence than many of their bearded contemporaries. Black Water sounds like Off With Their Heads with more backing vocals and the back and forth delivery in Cocaine Cowboys brings a sense of urgency that doesnt let up throughout the record. Austins voice is clear and fits great with the varied guitar work, showing enough emotion and range to keep the pop sensibilities, even with its gritty elements and the beer-fueled oohs and yeahs that garnish many of the choruses. In Poison Arrows, Austin sounds like hes trying to sing whoas for all three members as he screams so earnestly that it hurts my throat to think about it. They play a pop punk that owes more of its sound to the cruel Florida humidity than to its sunny weather.
At nine songs, its short enough that the format doesnt get repetitive, but its also not annoyingly short. Wires is an appropriate closer- the longest song on the record (but not by a significant degree) - with its group vocals and slow fade out. The band is also very good at dynamics, with the dramatic builds in Modern Medicine and Wires, toying with any pit-dwelling punks need to flounce around and scream along. For a first record, this is very impressive and Id recommend it to anybody who is counting down the days until the next Gainesville get-together. In addition, Ill be looking forward to the next Anchor Arms release.
8.0 / 10
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