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The Valley Arena
Sesso Vita
Anodyne Records
www.thevalleyarena.com


The Valley Arena is consistent in bringing out art rock that is heavy in guitars and stays modern without sounding trendy. The band's songs on their latest full length album Sesso Vita sound like they were composed by the four members in the band sitting in a room and bouncing music ideas off of each other. The songs lack somebody coming in and saying that the songs need to be more commercial sounding. Rather, they sound like songs that were made from a common sense approach to guitar rock. The band shows a deep affinity for crafting guitar movements that exhibit beauty and strength in the instrument without being overly indulgent. They have just the right measure of muscle without making the music bulky, and the right amount of melodic resonance without being wimpy. The band does not clutter their guitar riffs, and neither do they leave them unadorned. Lead singer/guitarist Warren Woodward and guitarist/backup vocalist Chris Stevens interweave their creative shoops while juxtaposing the rhythmic bass tugs of Dave South and the firm, steady syncopation of Michael Nielsen's drumming. They work together like brandy and rum, making a cocktail that your taste buds will relish without your system rejecting its zinging sensations.

From the first track to the last, The Valley Arena maintains art rock angles in their guitar licks. Each song varies in themes from projecting dark, brooding moods to simmering off and basking in small triumphs. The chord changes heighten the listening experience like on "Bed," emphasizing the main points in the melodic phrases. There is a post-punk vibe fusing the transitional changes and melodic movements, reminiscent of the fluxing motions from [The] Mars Volta. The artful strokes of "Kick At The Ceiling" mast guitar indentations with phat sonic grooves, and the feathering of guitar vibrations through "100 Rumors" are punk rock-clad with kicking vocals from Woodward. His voice has a profound aching that bellows deep and gets caught up in the riptide of whirling guitar rock psychedelics in "More Adorned." The layering of acoustic and electric guitars on "I Was A Wrecking Ball" blasts high pitched chords that blend with the lower decibels of hard rock making a rich melodic mix. This track is sure to please, and if not, The Valley Arena has "A Quiet Ending," which fumes a Beatles-esque resonance seeping from the guitar vibrations, saving their best tracks for last.

The Valley Arena's latest album Sesso Vita, like their previous records, is impacted with modern guitar rock shafts. They are a band who not only make rock oriented albums but their entire collection of albums are rock oriented. You feel like you are missing something without the entire set, like you've skipped a phase from rock's music evolution. The Valley Arena shows a genuineness and artistic flare in their music that other rock artists can admire, but it seems to be taking audiences a bit longer before they hear it, too. The band's catalog includes their out of print EP Kinetic Aesthetic from 2003, their self-titled debut full-length album in 2005, their sophomore LP Take Comfort In Strangers, and now Sesso Vita.

-Susan Frances

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