“What’s in a name?” said (or did he?) a certain Bard, so many years ago, when men wore funny neck decorations and Cate Blanchett was saving us from the Spanish Armada via Clive Owen‘s tight pantaloons. Sorry, tangential but there’s everything in a name. Let’s say Harlem Shakes. You are shuddering right now with PTSD induced by countless silly videos that infected the web months ago (which, in Internet Time is the same time from today to Elizabethan England.)
But no, Harlem Shakes were a band. And they were ace. Alas, they went to the great “Unheard band” section of Heaven (with Shiner and Chavez, I’m afraid) but from those ashes rose Todd Goldstein and created ARMS. Outside of some ideas that flashed during the reign of Harlem Shakes, ARMS is a completely different beast. One that travels through outer planes.
Now, in the tail of end of this summer of our discontent, EP 2 drops and the short but sweet final product is a real joy. 5 songs, vibrant as the sunnier days of yore, sport a decided hint of sadness, sort of the way leaves turn brown and red during September. ‘Comfort’ starts with an upbeat acoustic guitar strumming that leads to this peppy track that juxtaposes with Goldstein‘s vocals, ever so full of longing. The switch in rhythm (and genre) is sudden but never jars, just accentuates the emotions. Think of it of a great red wine you are drinking while eating some fine Edam.
ARMS pine for a lot of stuff. I reckon they are pining for a drive through the beach with ‘Earthquake Weather’, with it’s slight Maps & Atlases / Conveyor feel. Akin to a warm Autumn day, the sounds turn the light of any room into golden hues and that insipid coffee you bought turns into a non-alcoholic piña colada (sorry, you are not supposed to drink right now.) ‘Sleepwalker’ has that “overcast landscape” feeling you get from a lot of post punk bands. Atmospheres created by a good combination of deft snare-heavy drumming and a Morse code approach to bass, ‘Sleepwalker’ has almost epic quality to it. Sure, it feels more blue than anything in EP 2, but, goddammit, sometimes you need epic sadness.
‘Sympathetic Strings’ goes for a light Chamber Pop approach. This gorgeous piece is more reflective, slowly dancing through time. Think of it as a late Sunday afternoon walk through fields of brown leaves in the ground, nothing but the quiet whispers of the wind moving around. Yes, I know it’s not Autumn yet, but this EP describes those days of September that precede the Equinox and ‘Sympathetic Strings’ nails it.
“To remember is to experience again“, says an old homespun piece of advice from back home (Mexico) and ‘Up & Up’ feels like those slow days at the office where a torrential rain is shushed away from your mind by watching photographs of your summer holidays (or the sunny day from ‘Earthquake Weather’, you know?) Any sad feelings you could have from the previous songs dispels away with this happy-go-lucky EP closer.
A few (okay – three) years ago, a colleague of mine reviewed the first EP by ARMS and he liked it. I also reviewed it (for another website) and dug it too. For a while we thought it was one of those bands that disappears into the ether. Thankfully, EP 2 proves that ARMS are not traveling through Astral Planes, but are here, with both feet on the ground and arms wide stretched to give you a warm hug.
Words: Sam J. Valdés López