Arms Aloft / The Manix - Split [7-inch] (Cover Artwork)

Arms Aloft / The Manix

Split [7-inch] (2011)

Kiss of Death

This is an absolutely phenomenal split between two great unsung bands from the Midwest.

First up, in their first new music since their jaw-droppingly good 2009 EP Comfort at Any Cost, Arms Aloft comes out swinging with "DOUBLEDRANOPERCOSETNOICE", a song that has a manic, gruff energy that belies lyrics like "giving in's the stuff of dreams when buried 40 hours deep in another year-long week." Over two songs that last about five-and-a-half minutes, the Eau Claire, Wisconsin quartet crams in an album's worth of pain, drunkenness, regret, hopelessness and too-long winters. "Skinny Love" pulls off the same neat trick Jawbreaker did on Unfun (even borrowing that album's opening guitar tone for the bridge), dressing twisty words of despair up with blurred, buzzsaw pop-punk guitars and a sing-along chorus. It isn't until you find yourself hollering along to lines like "raise a flag at half-mast and a half-empty glass in a toast to remembering what it's like to not have to know she's sleeping somewhere else tonight" that you realize how depressing they really are.

On the flipside, Minneapolis, Minnesota's the Manix offer a different take on the same genetic strain of gruff beardcore (despite being clean-shaven, the posers). "Fourida" is a goofy, Too Many Daves-style paean to Four Loko that belongs on every Punk Rock Party Jamz mix CD you make from now on. Their other contribution to this split, "Greatest Thieves" doesn't offer anything radically new to the genre, but it's well done and ridiculously catchy and I've caught myself humming the breakdown in the shower or working outside, which is the mark of a memorable song.

I loved the hell out of this seven-inch, and it didn't leave my turntable for three weeks. I am looking forward to see what the Manix does next, and I've got junkie shakes waiting for an Arms Aloft LP. Go and buy it, dorks.