Call It Arson - Call It Arson (Cover Artwork)

Call It Arson

Call It Arson (2005)


It's often easiest to identify a band by the company they keep. Call It Arson reference Engine Down, the Appleseed Cast and Hey Mercedes among others as kindred spirits, but there seems little in the way of compelling material to draw listeners to this self-titled release instead of any of the above listed bands' materials. Most of the album flows between quiet moments of plucking guitars and the carefully constructed vocals which just hover on the line between smooth and broken. The biggest dilemma here may be the band's attempted message and the way in which the music comes across: Their name is a "decree for the destruction of the United States' current socio-political system in hopes of rebuilding one that is more just." How punk. Putting aside the idiocy of such a statement for a moment, this music is, on the whole, fairly ordinary and uninteresting, with standard arrangements, vocals and structures. I'm also not quite sure how these songs are supposed to convey any sense of anger toward political systems or even any sense of outrage; instead, it all seems too sloppily put together and even whiny.

Putting aside the obvious failure to convey their intentions, there are only a couple of songs that offer melodies that actually satisfy, and these are toward the end of the record anyways. "Here Comes the Flood" and "Nightmare on Coulter Street" show potential to produce something with a catchy harmony, but throughout most of the other songs this is completely lacking. The former offers a lighter song that bounces along on a catchy chorus while the latter is easily the most successful song emotionally. It's more atmospheric and distant, with stronger vocals and good build-ups, but I have to wonder why it took 8 songs to get there. For the most part, the beginning of the record is completely forgettable -- sure, it's competent, but there's no excuse for it being so bland. All of the bands they reference offer similar styles, but do so with more skill, so this album comes off as flat and incredibly dull.

Maybe there are better things to come from Call It Arson, as a couple of songs suggest, but until their sound becomes more focused and less lackadaisical, there's little reason to care. They certainly show an aptitude for playing this style, but have yet to found a way to make it their own. Until then, I think our socio-political system will stay right where it is.