Paper Arms

Days Above Ground

Written by: PP on 13/12/2010 05:47:42

I'm sure you've read more than a couple of my reviews where I've mentioned Hot Water Music as a close influence or inspiration to a particular band's sound. These kind of bands are almost unanimously good for some reason, but yet none of them quite achieve musical orgasms or the same raw feeling of pure honesty. Completely unique, ground-breaking music is extremely difficult to replicate as so much of it is about the feeling that arises when listening to the music, and not just the songs themselves. Now, the reason I'm blabbering on about this is because Australia's Paper Arms come very close to creating the same unadulterated, uncompromising feeling in their rendition of Hot Water Music's much revered Gainesville punk rock sound.

Yes, "Days Above Ground" borrows heavily from the "Caution" era, but it contains a couple of songs so brilliant it's difficult not be immediately captured by this band. The style is honest, raw post-hardcore in the original meaning of the word (that is, before scene bands arrived), where soaring melodies and anthemic riffs are complemented by emotionally wrenched singing style that combines scratchy and gravelly with an overload on melody. It's no secret this is one of my favorite vocal styles as it usually always embodies furious amounts of compassion and heart-scraping emotion through prolonged, textured screams and yells, and Paper Arms do this very thing to near-perfection. "An Outbreak" is directly lifted from the Hot Water Music back catalogue, for instance, except it is played with a little more restrain and hidden, subtle explosiveness that lies just beneath the surface. But where the band is at their best, however, is on "Bricks And Mortars", the best Hot Water Music song I've heard not written by said band. The melodies are tormented by painful emotion, and the delivery is as intense as it can be given the slow tempo of the song. The melody structure as a whole is astonishing here, it's subtly catchy but once it hits you, it does it with the power of a dozen bombs blowing up in near vicinity, for so strong is the underlying melody in the chorus section.

No other track quite makes it up to that level, which is a shame, because Paper Arms are extremely close to creating something truly special here, despite the somewhat blatant Hot Water Music aping going on. There are about four or five songs here so emotionally charged it puts into shame any modern band calling themselves "emo". The rest is still good, but perhaps a little inconsistent to warrant a superb rating from my side. The most important thing is that Paper Arms have proven here with "Bricks And Mortars" that they are capable of great, overwhelmingly good songs when they mix together the right ingredients. And that's a great starting point, considering this is only their debut album.


Download: Bricks And Mortars, Chances, An Outbreak
For the fans of: Hot Water Music, Small Brown Bike, Jawbreaker
Listen: Myspace

Release date 05.04.2010
Poison City Records

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