The Valley Arena - Sesso.Vita (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

The Valley Arena

Sesso.Vita (2007)


One of Astro Magnetics Records' bands who seemed to garner the least attention for their debut was the Valley Arena, who managed a pretty good adaptation of Dischord-style post-punk/hardcore on Take Comfort in Strangers. With the followup, Sesso.Vita, appearing on a smaller label over a year after its actual recording, the Valley Arena seem condemned to the same fate. That's sort of a pity, since the album is a nice progression and overall solid listen.

Vocalist/gutarist Warren Woodward seems to deliver his lines in a slightly higher register this time around, reminiscent of Drive Like Jehu's Rick Froberg or JR Ewing's Andreas Tylden in the latter's later days. Musically, the Valley Arena tread somewhat similar territory as their first album, only more akin to Jawbox / Burning Airlines this time around. Songs flow with an occasional stutter, driven by fully active drum fills (see "Exfantasy" and "Kick at the Ceiling") and a creative set of guitar chops dabbling in bizarre tunings and frequent changeups. Woodward's voice icily saunters over the choppiness at a constant rate, with an occasional, creepy muttering affectation that really seems to lend a hand to the air of a dark, melancholic San Diego guitar vibe.

Opener "Bed," "100 Rumors" and "I Was a Wrecking Ball" are the standouts. "100 Rumors" throws forth a barely repeated yet catchy and paranoid refrain, while the mostly acoustic, calmer "I Was a Wrecking Ball" comes off a bit Blonde Redhead-esque at times in sharp contrast to the rest of the album. Said rest of Sesso.Vita doesn't entirely jump out at the listener, but the interlacing riffs and Woodward's emotional strain grab his attention just enough.

Sesso.Vita isn't exactly the top representation of `90s post-hardcore rebirth going, and maybe that's part of why the Valley Arena will again fail to capture much notice. However, they're surely worthy of a look and/or listen, as another commendable album by them shows.

Perfume Has Expired
Kick at the Ceiling