top-shelf punk band’s long-awaited full-length
Sunrise some March morning commute, fingers skimming static stations, a graying field of voices scratching windy phrases suddenly choked by the light of song and I am soon warming in the afterglow. I cannot wait for the usual, customary courtesy of allowing the disc to cycle to its end: press repeat, baby, and I don’t care if I ever get there at all. Like the lingering lips and lashes in the leaving of some lover still asleep and dreaming, I can’t get the music out of my head. I have irrevocably fallen for Sawdust City, the first full length from Eau Claire’s finest punkers, Arms Aloft. And while the wait has seemed interminable (their last and lonesome release was nearly five years ago and many will find the lyrical reprise of “Waiting just for nothing” on the LP apropos), their latest platter is about to drop prior to a 53-day promotional tour.
A Fistful of Zlotys’ primary riff will adorn your spine with shivers, and Skinny Love, the most resonant melody of the album entire, is a tale of heartbreak that will get you nostalgic for the bad old days.
Really, dudes, what’s with the hold up? With a sigh and a shrug of the shoulders, Seth Gile (vocals/guitar) summarizes: “Member changes suck: teaching people new songs, finding new places to practice; it all got in the way. We were in limbo and didn’t feel like recording. And we’re lazy.” The last remark is clearly in jest as AA has kept plenty busy in the intervening years, including a successful European tour. However, other issues have precluded a regular schedule of record/release, namely the financial fallow of the working stiff.
Recorded in Minneapolis by Dusty Miller, Gile confesses: “It took a year to finish up … when we had money. This guy had a lot on his plate; he’s a professional roadie and he had a newborn at home.” Now it’s just a matter of the mastering: “We were a referral, so we got a good deal; as a result, we’re a ‘back burner’ project. The last missed deadline was a few hours before this meeting …”
“At least it’s being worked on,” interjects guitarist Alex Bammel (the band is completed by bassist Isaiah Davis and drummer Jack Gribble).
It would seem the work is about to pay off, as rumor of serious label interest mists this interview. Although they must remain mum, Bammel offers: “Yes, another example of how everything drags itself out in this band, but it’s a good problem to have.”
It’s easy to grasp why others have come sniffing. Spinning the disc reveals a cache of catchy tunes touching both the personal and the political and presented through a Midwestern prism: “There has to be songs about girls, and I never get too specific with my politics. We’re all pretty far out on the left, though,” says Gile. His emotionally raw inflection suffuses such tracks as A Fistful of Zlotys, whose primary riff will adorn your spine with shivers, and Skinny Love, with a pace set at gallop, and the most resonant melody of the album entire, it’s a tale of heartbreak that will get you nostalgic for the bad old days.
And now it’s time to spread these stories across 53 days on the road, despite the toll taken on relationships and pocketbooks. “Everybody but Alex will lose his job over this,” confides Gile. The shows, each one booked by Gile, will take them across the country. Adds Bammel, “We’re not going out with anybody, but we’ll be meeting up with bands along the way.”
Sawdust City is as contemporary as it is respectful of roots and, with its imminent unveiling, will reveal Arms Aloft as a band shedding any previous comparisons, a distinct tongue amongst the rabble’s din.