CD REVIEW- Astoria Arms- White XX Orange V1
By Jon Stewart - 06/02/2006 - 08:13 PM EDT
Artist: Band: Astoria Arms
At a recent concert in Dallas, I showed up early and saw the opening act, Astoria Arms, doing their sound check. It was a 25 minute free-form exercise in grimness, comedy and exactitude. The Temple, Texas based 5 member band was very young (the lead singer is 22 and the musicians are all 18), but each exhibited a focus on their music that still registers. Their performance felt like they were being pulled straight from the jaws of hell. I experienced the Primal Scream as channeled through Seth Dady, the lead vocalist. Needless to say, after the show I asked them to give me their two EP’s for review (a total of 8 songs) which I am reviewing as an album for which I’ve made up the name above.
The first track “My Heart, My Flesh, My Bones” is, simply stated, a musical masterpiece. (You can’t change a note without diminishing the effect). I counted 8 different elements, each intertwined, offering a richness in post-hardcore rock that I’ve never witnessed. Lyrically, the obscurity of the subject matter makes for astonishment that it’s so heartfelt. The second track “Enter Lewd with a Silent Queue” is the weakest of the eight yet has its own spell to cast in its 1:58 running time. The third track was unnamed on the White XX EP but highlights vocalist Seth’s abilities, which are awesome. Every post-hardcore performer dreams they could duplicate the rage, the range and the emotional equivalence found on this one song. The last track, “Coming Up Like Roses”, resembles a Sonic Youth turn on meeting God and its originality keeps your interest churning.
“Steadfast, But Torn to Pieces” introduces the Orange EP and will make you want to scream along, with thoughts you shouldn’t have, while soaring over a black ocean, never able to touch down emotionally. It is a magnificent piece of work that defies the pop culture of today in its forcefulness and sheer fire-breathing contempt. This song should be required listening of every aspiring rock musician.
“Better Remedy” follows and covers new ground musically. Again, emotional amplification is the theme and you will feel things you can’t put in the most private journal. “Round Like A Circle” starts out slow with a plaintive entreaty for Victory by fighting-the-fight; suddenly, a laugh starts the musical explosion that will make your skin feel the fire that only rock can provide. The last tune, “Your Favorite Song”, another original musical exercise, keeps the EP standard of excellence fulfilled with an ending that goes on-and-on, but doesn’t, the most difficult thing to do in composition.
Studying the lyrics of these songs is a venture into poetic paradox. Give these guys time; they are going somewhere. Grade A-.
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