(Artwork care of Karen Ramsay (www.karenramsay.com), profile photo care of brianlackeyphotography.com)

Friday, July 2, 2010

CD review - A.R.E. Weapons, Darker Blue (2010)

Darker Blue has a manic punk energy. The opening song is already underway when the track begins, starting in mid-beat. A.R.E. Weapons, nominally known as an art-noise band, infuse Darker Blue with a punk style simplicity and a Gothic new wave sound. Some songs sound like the Ramones or the Cramps, but just as often, they'll pull in enough bass and synthesize to raise comparisons to Bauhaus or Joy Division.

A.R.E. Weapons want you to pay attention to their lyrics. They favor narratives and character sketches. Whether it's the quirky cockroach encounter of Subway or the threatening ode of Jeffrey Lee, they try to create a compelling reason for the song. A few songs break this mold, but they're exceptions.

That opener, Jeffrey Lee, presents their driving Gothic wave sound. The music starts with a drum machine driving beat that sounds a bit like a speedy version of the Doors' L.A. Woman crossed with Bauhaus' Bela Lugosi's Dead. The slide guitar hangs in the background, trippy and ecstatic. The lyrics seem to allude to Gun Club's Jeffrey Lee Pierce, but the song transcends any real person to reach towards mythology.

Confusion is the Sign (available on their MySpace page) is my favorite track. It's a Velvet Underground tribute, with elements of Heroin, European Son, and Sister Ray. They captured Lou Reed's droning rhythm guitar with John Cale-style chaotic noise around the edges. This could almost be an outtake from The Velvet Underground and Nico, but A.R.E. Weapons add their own elements of synthesizer sounds and horn samples. The horn sounds add a rich thickening to the sound and create a cool outro for the song.

Street Justice is a modern urban fable. It feels like Combat Rock era Clash with more of an emphasis on synthesizer. It tells a story about a subway vigilante, a bit reminiscent of the Bernard Goetz shooting. The ethics are similarly ambiguous as the victims are criminals, but John was looking for his opportunity:
It turns out that this was not the first time
But see, self defense it ain't no crime
And it turned out that John just loved to defend himself.

It was a fact - he kept his body trained
It was a fact - he was a little bit insane
It was a fact - they just don't really want to go mess with him
A.R.E. Weapons have rough NYC edge that calls for a taste of something sweet to contrast -- maybe Bacardi and Coke. In the meantime, give Darker Blue a listen.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah man. This record gets better and better with each listen. Aaaahhhh 'What the Fuck Do You Want?'.