2 November 2013

Crazy Arm - Union City Breathe

From the shoreline of.... erm Plymouth, UK, this band sound as if they were born on the wrong side of the pond. This band sound like they should have been born in New Jersey and were personally raised on a diet of Bruce Springsteen, The Gaslight Anthems, Crosby Stills & Nash and that old Americana sound.  But they are from the UK, very proud to be English and make no secret of that love either; but they have that big sound and dreams does not just come from this green isle and has been brought up with dreams of that land over the ocean where liberty is the first statue some would have seen after an ocean voyage.  On their Facebook page, Crazy Arm have no date as to when they formed, but their first demo was released in 2007 and this is their second album which was released in 2011.  They have just recently released an acoustic album, but this was the album that was first brought to my attention mainly due to that cover (which is frankly stunning).

Starting with the driven "Of The Tarantulas" and "Bandalito" which sound like cowboys out to steal your money and also your partner of choice. Coming up next is the heart felt pumping anthem to the trodden with "Tribes" which sounds like a thousand other songs which have been done before; and this starts to be a problem that continues through the rest of the album if I am honest.  Then the band gets all political with "The Right Wing Never Sleeps" and how the band is not going to let the right wing of politics take over their country.  It is a great sentiment and it is very uplifting that they make their stand that they make here; it is one of the better songs on the album.

Coming off the back of this is "The Endless Carriage" which goes like a train but without any excitement to be honest.  There is something here that is not quite working for me; I don't know what it is as the musicianship of show here is to a very high standard, but so far there has been only one song about meh.  "Little Boats" does not help the cause either, it is just there and I know I could do without it being heard again.  It just does nothing for me in any shape or form, it is just bland.  "Song Of Choice" is a lot better and is of an acoustic flavour which works on so many levels. I can actually see why they have gone to that route with their new album, it comes across as a more rock focused version of The Levellers.  Together with "The Right Wing..." it shows the more political passions and I much prefer this version of the band.

After this comes the organ focused "200 Pints Of Blood" which again is much more focused, the guitar solo and riffs are well played; there seems to be a middle period of this album which works a lot better that the beginning of the album. But then "Meet The Marines" has that middle rock moments that drags the album back down to the mire of the beginning. "Southway Drive" is a country and western banjo jam that is pleasant and does not rock the boat too much one way or another until they bring the full band in and then it just ruins an average song. The last three songs - "City & Western", "Charnel House Blues" and "White Canyon" do nothing to change this feeling and as the album comes to the end, it just drifts to a stop with a sense of nothing much.

Musically I really should be liking this album, musically I should come from this knowing that I have heard a good band play very well with some great songs.  But apart from a few tracks, this is just a sea of nothing that really does nothing for them.  When the band are playing to their strengths which is when they are doing the acoustic moments they are very interesting indeed.  But when they are aiming for that more rock sound, it sounds forced and dull.  They are aiming for a sound which is not 100% natural to them and it shows.  An exercise in knowing your own limitations.

3 out of ten - Not for everyone but played well

You can purchase the album from Amazon here

The band does not have a website, but here is a link to their Bandcamp page

You can listen to the album on Spotify here

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