Reviews Arms Aloft Sawdust City

Arms Aloft

Sawdust City

When I speak of a “Kiss of Death” sound, I don’t mean it derisively. What I do mean is poppy song structures with powerfully belted lead vocals and strong guitars. It’s pop-punk, but with a little extra torque under it and maybe a secret passion for melodic hardcore buried somewhere in their basement cd piles from the early 2000s. Arms Aloft, from Wisconsin, is a good fit for the label. The primary reason that their first full-length, Arms Aloft is as strong as it is, is the distinct blend of influence that comes together with their own songwriting prowess. Lumping them in with their label is the comparison; what is most interesting is the distinction.

Ignoring the intro track, the record gets off to a fast start. “Irish Coffee” is one of the most memorable and catchy cuts off the record, and what DIY punk doesn’t get off on a refrain like “You’ve been eating nothing but cigarettes/ You’ve been drinking nothing but Irish coffee/ and it burns a whole through your stomach wall”? It’s got the grit; it’s got the melody; it’s got the lifestyle. Similarly, songs like “Sawdust City Soundclash” mine this terrain. If I had to pick an archetypical song to define the band, it would be this one, defined by a back and forth tempo that tugs at introspection without moping into ballad territory, but it also cuts into a high energy and positive expression in the form of a big chorus. The song manages the best of pop and the best of art: earworms and emotional connections.

As a whole, it’s the balance of these two elements that makes Sawdust City so infectious. At one moment, there are Dear Landlord-esque group choruses (“Skinny Love”), and the next there are Lawrence Arms-y tales of environmental conflict and within descriptive imagery. Yet, Arms Aloft really doesn’t sound that much like either of those groups. The themes run between celebration and exasperation, pulling together with a cynical-yet-looking-forward viewpoint, as voiced by “It’s Not the Heat, It’s the Headwinds’” “We might’ve finally kicked the chair out/ but at least we fucking tried.” The lyrics have a real focus on description and detail that builds character over the full course of the album.

Arms Aloft has previously released a couple of EPs, but with their first full-length here, which took nearly five years after their inception, it’s clear they’ve put in the work.

8.5 / 10Loren
Advertisement
Radio K 2
Leave a comment

8.5 / 10

8.5 / 10

Share this content
Related features

One Question Interviews Arms Aloft

Posted Nov. 16, 2013, 9:42 a.m.

Seth Gile (Arms Aloft)SPB:Do you do anything to minimize the cost of gas while on tour? Gile: The best way to minimize the ...

Advertisement
Dwarves skyscraper
More by Arms Aloft

Arms Aloft

What a Time to Be Barely Alive

8.0 / 10 Arms Aloft - What a Time to Be Barely Alive album cover

Midtempo punk sounds like such a boring idea.And sometimes it really is.But when it works, it’s hard to top. The chords are still powerful and concise, the frustration and fury ...

Arms Aloft

Comfort at Any Cost

8.0 / 10 Arms Aloft - Comfort at Any Cost album cover
200 Words Or Less

Hailing from Wisconsin, Arms Aloft are quite a surprise with their 7” debut Comfort at Any Cost. This four-song EP follows up a demo recording released last year. The four-piece ...

Related news

Tours The Falcon touring with Kyle Kinane

Posted Aug. 22, 2016, 5:17 p.m.

Already touring the US this summer-fall in support of Gather Up the Chaps, The Falcon will pick up comedian Kyle Kinane for several dates beginning in November. Wisconsin's Arms ...

Videos Arms Aloft: The Truth Is Out There

Posted Aug. 17, 2016, 9:01 p.m.

Midwest punks Arms Aloft have debuted the video to "The Truth Is Out There" from their Red Scare debut set for release next month. The new album will be titled ...

Labels Red Scare new signees

Posted June 29, 2016, 9:07 a.m.

Red Scare Industries has announced three new bands on their roster: Arms Aloft, Good Friend, and MakeWar. No release dates are set, but the label suggests new material from at ...

x

Logo

Looking for the SPB logo? You can download it in a range of styles and colours here:

Click anywhere outside this dialog to close it, or press escape.