Man at Arms makes music that has been called "The most masculine thing I've ever heard," "articulate" and "like Primus" (which they sympathize with, but are reluctant to understand). A gracious critic once wrote of them: "Fuck you America, this is what you should be listening to." The band's first full-length album A Waste of Time and Space (coming after of the Being and Commerce EP recorded for Friction Records, and a rather remarkable split with Abner Trio) manages to simultaneously capture the essence of the band's raucous live sound with more polish than any of its previous efforts. Expanding in all directions, the band continues in its musical explorations of repetition, concision, dynamic shifts and stagnancy.
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The sticker on the front of this CD says it's "recommended for fans of The Minutemen's 'Paranoid Time', Stephen Hawking's 'A Brief History of Time' and Space Ghost Coast to Coast"...that's a six-minute-long record, a book and a cartoon for stoners. The post-it left by a colleague gives more of a clue as to the sound, saying "noisy twist rock". Having put the CD in my player I'm fairly confident that's as in twisty-turny math rock rather than "let's all do the twist".
It's fun stuff, tight and choppy with cool automaton monotone vocals along with repetitive stop-start guitar twiddling that sometimes brings to mind Don Caballero but the grooves are more driving and less confusing, often with a moody Poison Arrows-ish churn and an interesting mixture of tangy trebly Minutemen-ish guitar tones and some thicker and more heroic ones. They achieve a nice mixture of earthy physicality and robotically repetitive jazziness here that's challenging at times but more often quirky and very listenable.
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- A Waste Of Time And Space by Man At Arms
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