Crazy Arm - Tribes / Help for Heroines (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Crazy Arm

Tribes / Help for Heroines (2011)

Xtra Mile

Okay, so here it is, another taster for Crazy Arm's forthcoming second album, Union City Breath, following on from the Ambertown/Sweet Storm single released at the tail end of 2010. I have to first be upfront here and acknowledge that I am a big fan of this band and their music, and although it's a struggle, I do try to be as objective as I can when reviewing their music, so all my enthusing over this release has gone through a vetting process before submitting the finished article!

First up is "Tribes"; at just over five minutes long, it shows that Crazy Arm are not scared of writing songs that are beyond what might be considered the norm for a punk band, albeit one that is drenched with other influences. Compared to tracks from their debut Born to Ruin, it is apparent that Crazy Arm has broadened its sound considerably without losing any of the power that has been prevalent throughout their existence–they've just found different ways of delivering it. That they have been able to retain that edge whilst adding the variety to the music is to their credit as musicians and highlights their desire to not stand still and just rehash what they've successfully done before. With Darren Johns' voice sounding as impassioned as ever and the use of Vicky Butterfield's atmospheric vocals, "Tribes" is a song which could easily gain the band more fans without it being an out-and-out attempt to "make it big"–there is more of a rock feel to the song (in an early Springsteen kind of way at times) but it is ingrained with a punk sentiment hammered home through the lyrics: The catchy refrain "I don't want to live in a fucked up world where morality is lost to the laws of hate" is still ringing in my head as I write this.

The second track, "Help for Heroines" is, for me, is a continuation of the way Crazy Arm have flourished since I first saw them a few years ago. This seems to have more pace and a slightly more beefed-up sound than "Tribes", and it is this difference that helps the two songs complement each other perfectly, making this release one of the highlights of the year.

Despite a bag full of laurels they could be resting on, that just doesn't even register in what they do, so much so that live favourites are already being replaced by newer songs at gigs as the windup for Union City Breath begins.

I am lucky. Crazy Arm hail from Plymouth (UK), the same city I live in. Therefore, there are numerous hometown gigs, tour warm-ups, etc. to attend, but even then, when you could imagine a band taking it easy in those gigs, it is never the case–each performance is as stimulating as one would want. This band should be bigger than it is, of that there is no doubt. If someone in the USA could get behind them and bring them across the Atlantic, even for a Fest appearance, I'm convinced they'd win many new fans with their live show–believe me, it's something to behold, be it unplugged or the full-on electric deal. The new album should help them step up to another level and it will be interesting to hear how their tour with Against Me! goes later this year as they will probably give the headliners a good run for their money night after night.

There you have it–as objective a review as I can write. This single is available now extremely cheaply via the likes of Amazon, etc. so check it out for yourselves–you should not be disappointed.