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For fans of: NEEDTOBREATHE, Kings of Leon, The Black Keys, The Raconteurs, Gary Clark Jr.,

 

Certain aspects of modern day music have finally dictated to me that New York City is, in fact, the cultural mecca that it has always been purported to be. I say this having just listened to Arc & Stones, a Brooklyn-based quartet that sounds as though they were plucked from the sweltering cityscapes of Savannah, Georgia or the murky Louisiana bayou. In spite of the South being the birthplace of the blues, the medium appears to be a moveable feast, tonally speaking. Granted, we’ve heard sultry Southern sounds springing up everywhere from Liverpool to Luxembourg, but rarely do we hear them performed this passionately.

 

I have always been a vocal proponent of Southern Rock groups, primarily because of the variety of genres and dynamics incorporated into their sounds. Arc & Stones is the absolute embodiment of this particular principle.

 

The band’s eponymous EP, set for release February 12, 2013, is a powerful, punchy collection of moods masterfully rendered and recorded by the band and producer Jeremy Griffith (Singing Serpent Studios). The vast array of spirits and sounds on display in the EP’s five songs bespeak a band that refuses to limit itself sonically or stylistically. The album crests and crashes so emphatically that it feels like a sonic hurricane— tempestuous and buffeting one moment, then peaceful and serene the next.

 
The opening track, “Rise,” begins the record’s ascent with pulsing, rhythmic guitar runs and a silken vocal melody, surging slowly with the addition of the churning rhythm section. The chorus explodes out of the verses, arcing high with unbridled energy that threatens to careen off course, yet is skillfully subdued back into the next verse.

 

Like an expert rider on a thoroughbred, the band manipulates the dynamic of their songs so deftly that they can shift from sauntering to a sprint almost instantaneously. The muted and melodic feel of, “Rise,” is sharply dispatched by the gritty and aggressive slide-guitar driven composition, “She’s Mine.”

 

“She’s Mine,” has every element of an early 2000’s independent-rock hit, yet is rooted around a ZZ Top-esque blues riff that combusts into a Hives-like-vibe on the overdriven and incendiary chorus. This deftly transitions into the pensive, mournful acoustic strums and piano trills of, “Let Me Down,” the album’s third track.

 

This is where the band’s true mastery immerges, as they tonally downshift into a soulful Southern-rock serenade that softly spills out of the speakers. In spite of the dynamic change, however, the energy from the group never tapers.  The song steadily builds from its opening instant to its climax, with elements being adeptly added to accentuate each movement in the composition. The piece ends with a crowd of voices added to augment the chorus melody, completing the ascendant crescendo of the song and ending with delicate atmospherics that bleed into, “Say Goodbye,” the next tune on the record.

 

“Say Goodbye,” is a chimeric composition as well, starting with only piano chords, and slowly encorporating jaunty acoustic strums and thick, syrupy bass notes. The song then bursts into a rocking, hook-laden chorus that knocks the listener off their feet. The band further leavens the song’s dynamic, pulling their punch with a stutter-stepped second chorus that creates a deepening calm before cascading arpegiatted guitars culminate into its explosive bridge. The energy eventually curtails enough to allow the track to end as it began: only vocal and piano. This song is gripping, powerful and dynamic in all the right places. In short, a brilliant piece of music.

 

 

A quiet, insistent finger-picked electric guitar and arpegiatted piano greet us on, “Silence,” the album’s final track and first video single. The verse swells on the back of the pulsing guitar, following the vocal melody on its rise until the addition of tribal tom-rolls and bouncy bass build into a sonic explosion passing itself off as a chorus. You can easily see why the group chose this song as the subject of their first music video. Its melody and lyrical content are infectious, and leave the ear longing for their perpetual refrain. The song ends the album well, sending the listener right back for a second helping of the group’s artfully crafted sounds.

 

I heartily recommend this EP for any fans of NEEDTOBREATHE or Kings of Leon. The record is sonically complex, expertly orchestrated and infectious beyond belief. It will leave you longing for enough tracks to comprise a full-length album, but it certainly provides ample auditory enjoyment being chalk-full of memorable material on its own.

 

Do yourself a favor and procure a copy from the group’s BandCamp page when the record drops in February. You will not be disappointed.

 

For now, give a listen to their three currently released tracks and enjoy their official video for, “Silence.”
 

 

Arc & Stones is:

Dan PellarinLead Vocals / Rhythm Guitar/Keys

Ben CramerLead Guitar / Vocals

Eddy BayesBass / Vocals,

Joe Doino– Drums

 

The band can be found online via their homepage, Facebook or BandCamp.

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