Abner Trio & Man At Arms

Abner Trio & Man At Arms

Abner Trio & Man At Arms

Abner Trio & Mat At Arms

Joyful Noise

During my tenure as a reviewer for INK19, my luck has been roughly 50/50 that a split I’ve chosen to critique will be consistently good. Even if it’s not a dumping ground for non-album tracks, usually one of the artists involved doesn’t measure up the quality of the other. Thankfully, this joint venture from the Midwest indie rock bands Abner Trio and Man At Arms stays gold throughout its eight tracks.

Indiana’s Abner Trio is shambolically charming, with dense layers of noise attempting to obscure a heart that beats with a pop intensity. Their opener, “The Spotlight,” shifts dynamics and time signatures not out of math-rock adherence but from a tendency to wander. There’s a casualness in their music that also translates to the vocals. Singer Daniel Paquette’s tossed-off free association of “geniuses/small cars/hippies/nationalism/spaghetti/old people/mini-skirts[…]” is absurdly brilliant. The fun-house lope and surge of “The Victim” works quite nicely, relying on a heavily picked bass line to drive the melody of the song, while Paquette yelps like a carnival barker hitting the peak of an acid trip.

Man At Arms (from my home state of Michigan) exhibit the same sensibility as Abner Trio but are decidedly more aggressive and tightly focused. They recall the frenzy of Hella right from the introductory drum beats of “Who Died and Made You the Voice of Reason?” Each song is a short-lived whirlwind awash in inhuman drumming, lacerating guitar riffs and clipped vocal lines which spew indictments on modern life. Check out the minute-long dialogue without substance on “Making Conversation” for the best example of this.

I’m looking forward to hearing more from both of these groups, and, really, that’s the ultimate sign an EP has done its job properly.

Joyful Noise Recordings: www.joyfulnoiserecordings.com

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