Sunday, June 12, 2011

Quiet Arcs "Grim Business" E.P.

Location: Philadelphia, PA 
Genre: Hardcore / Punk 

Review by: Joe Schaffner

Something in the Universe doesn’t want you to know just how  good this record is.  I say this because the morning after I wrote the first draft of my review, I spilled water all over my laptop’s keyboard, effectively disconnecting myself from 99% of the First World and making you still aurally ignorant of the second E.P. from Philadelphia’s own Quiet Arcs.  Several aborted attempts and a few more dollars than I wanted to spent later, I finally pulled myself together enough to sit down and commit to yet another draft. Trust me, it’s been worth it.

If you’ve heard “Electric Throne” (the band’s first E.P.), then you should have some idea of what to expect from Quiet Arcs’s second output. My first reaction to these guys, whether it’s at a show or on a recording, is, “Holy fuck, they sure do have a lot of energy.”  I’m making a point to say this because, lyrically, Quiet Arcs to me is much more about simmering, prolonged anger and discontent than short bursts of directionless rage.  “Grimm Business” reconfirms my impression insofar as it’s even more cohesively conceptual than “Electric Throne,” as the piano interludes “Empty Room” and “Actively Dying” demonstrate. One impression I don’t get, however, is that they’re attempting a sort of “mature” re-branding, a charge that seems to get leveled every time a band steps out of their comfort zone.  Quite simply, the music, lyrics, and everything else that went into “Grimm Business” make sense together.

Not being a musician, just a guy, I can’t speak authoritatively on the record’s technical prowess, effects, etc.  There seems to be a delayed flanger effect that opens “Every Day Is a Rainbow “ that resounds for a few seconds and peaks into harsh, repetitive riffing (the good kind), distorted bass plucking, hard drum hits, and Larry’s signature vocal delivery that, to my ears, is the sound of being at one’s wit’s end. Lyrics-wise, the song is cryptic without being abstract; you don’t need a secret-decoder ring to figure out that the collage of common sayings/repetitive phrases is the consciousness stream of a guys who’s had his fill, can’t stomach anymore, etc. We don’t know the source/object of his disgust, and that’s important—the ambiguity invokes the leitmotif of good h.c./punk rage without any of the threadbare topics. If you’ve made it this far into the review, I’m guessing that you know enough about the genre(s) that examples would be extraneous. I hear Bl’ast’s guitar sound on “Weekend Breeze.” An inside sources tells me that it’s about Wildwood, NJ’s infamous Super Tully Nut and unrequited lust; if you’ve ever experience either, than I’m sure the combination, even if only suggested, will make you puke in your mouth a bit.  “Hospice,” the closing track, is the slowest, most dramatic-sounding song on the record. I want to emphasize “dramatic-sounding” here, as the closing refrain “Give me an easy life and a peaceful death,” which prefaces an acoustic outro played on Sheryl Crow’s guitar, suggests anything but a glory-blazed demise. 

From what I’ve heard, Quiet Arcs is working on material for a new E.P. While a follow-up to “Grim Business” will be a tall order to me, all signs point to progress and a further development of their unique sound. 

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