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Darker Blue

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Album Review

After a decade-long history and many personnel changes, New York's A.R.E. Weapons are down to the duo of multi-instrumentalist Matt McAuley and singer Brian McPeck. They're still writing songs that echo the bare-bones approach of the pioneering noise rock duo Suicide, but as Charles Caleb Colton said, "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery." Or, as Oscar Levant put it, "Imitation is the sincerest form of plagiarism." Witty quips aside, while A.R.E. Weapons may lack originality in their approach, they have plenty of energy and dark humor, and young listeners who've never heard of (or heard) Suicide will be impressed by their aggressive attack. The album starts out at a breakneck tempo, but doesn't really start to move until "Subway," which rides a simple three-chord rockabilly-like progression with McPeck turning in a vocal that gets progressively more out of control as he describes the working people and homeless refugees that crowd the A Train. McAuley turns in suitably gritty distorted guitar work. "Confusion Is the Sign" grinds along with a tale of junkies and other losers wandering the Lower East Side. "Radio Radio" is not the Elvis Costello song but a reverb-drenched tribute to past rockers full of vocal quirks worthy of Alan Vega, while "What the F**k Do You Want," the set's catchiest track, is a thumping rocker full of slide guitar, primitive drum machine, and an even more primitive attitude. It's a potential garage rock anthem and perfectly encapsulates the feelings of most teenage boys. If they'd stopped there the album would have ended on a high note because the overly dramatic closer, "Don't You Die on Me," is kind of laughable, despite its attempts to provide some sock and awe with its anti-drug message. ~ j. poet, Rovi


Formed: New York, NY

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s

Bassist Matthew McAuley, synthesizer player Thomas Bullock, guitarist Ryan Noel and vocalist Brain F. McPeck formed A.R.E. Weapons, a New York City-based group that began to generate a stir within underground circles in 2001 for their aggressive, confrontational shows and their buzzing and willfully ramshackle electro-rock. During a visit to New York, Pulp's Jarvis Cocker heard the band and encouraged Rough Trade's Geoff Travis to sign them. He obliged, and the band's debut single, Street Gang, was...
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Darker Blue, A.R.E. Weapons
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