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These Arms Are Snakes
Oxeneers or The Lion Sleeps When Its Antelope Go Home
Jade Tree Records
www.thesearmsaresnakes.com


These Arms Are Snakes force me to listen, stilted by contradictions in musical theory and approach, yet I can't just write them off so easily. They try, and succeed, to attain an abrasive steady rock sound, and at the same time, they push too much past the bounds of acceptable songcraft into noise. I am really on the edge with this one, and it is truly up to the listener to decide where they lie. So all I can do is enumerate my positive and negatives, so that you can determine where they fit in your musical spectrum.

TAAS do have a lot of things going for them; namely a solid vibe associated with their music that is completely them and no one else. This aura that surrounds their music is full of energy and decent guitar licks, and some pure moments of exquisite clarity that take the highs to awesome levels. The guitar work is elegant and precise, and appears to be the smartest thing about the album, with its hooks and nuances. The rest of the instruments fall into place with an almost lackluster appeal, going over the motions of playing rather than trying to be enveloped into the whole.

The production is pretty well wrought. Sound effects and changes within the songs show careful consideration and thought. I was particularly impressed with bass sound effects as the album proceeded; "Angela's Secret" and "Gadget Arms" put a nice emphasis on this underutilized instrument, and helped carry the songs onward. But the one aspect of the production that I can't wrap my brain around is involved with the songwriting. The songs seem to have no point, and seem to be thrown together in a haphazard fashion just to be different; there is no purpose that I can ken. The bass stops and randomly picks up again, the drums alter rhythm and drive within different songs, but it doesn't seem to lend anything to the whole. Changes are well done as I noted above, but placed within the same songs they appear to be self-indulgent choices like some sort of personal joke, that I obviously don't get.

On the bright side, this does help carry the ambiance nature of the album, so that, for me, I look at the album as something that should be listened to in the background without focusing on the individual strains. The aforementioned "Gadget Arms" being an excellent eight-minute example, that roams and focuses as necessary - good mood music.

So, I just end up going in circles because it is good, but sporadic; clear at some points and muddy in others. Maybe you should listen to it for yourself and see what you think.

-bishop

Track Listing:

1. The Shit Sisters
2. Angela's Secret
3. Big News
4. Tracing
5. Your Pearly Whites
6. Gadget Arms
7. Greetings from the Great North Woods
8. La Stanza Bianca
9. Darlings of New Midnight
10. Oxeneer
11. Idaho


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Mike Doughty



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