10 July 2008

Kids Aflame

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Seriously, I don't shill for my friends unless they're actually really amazing, and besides, I see this guy, like, three times a year, and mostly when I go to see him play his music, which is amazing, but I'll get to that in a sec.

I'm sure you remember several weeks ago I flipped out because Arms, aka Todd Goldstein's mostly-one-man band, got a brilliant, glowing write-up of his new album, Kids Aflame, in the Guardian. To refresh your memory: "There's truly not a bad song on here. Kids Aflame rocks, shudders, weeps, and smiles as you reach to hit 'play' again."

Since then, Kids Aflame was actually released, and I listened to my new, shiny copy (in that only-figuratively-shiny-since-it's-an-mp3 way) this weekend. Some of the songs are new to me, some are new versions of songs I love from Arms' previous EPs, and they're all great.

(For the three of you who were at the first night of TempCo's 365 last summer, Arms, in true solo mode, was the musical guest.)

I'm not very good at describing music, so, from the Guardian article again: Arms' music is lo-fi but lovely... The tunes are melodic, the production fuzzy and echo-laden, Goldstein's crooned vocals melodramatic and impassioned... hazy, crepuscular ambience... shoegaze-y lead-off single... lilting title track... as gorgeous a mandolin-strummed ballad as Morrissey-Marr's Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want (except that Goldstein achieves the same effect with a ukulele). ... country-inflected... soaring... seems to take its lyrical cue from The Smiths' How Soon Is Now... noise-drenched... etc.

Here's what I know - I love having these songs stuck in my head, wandering around my apartment singing the pretty little harmonies. (It helps that since Todd's voice is low, one octave up these make for easy girl singing.) There's a huge range from almost boppy to what I once described as "the song you listen to on repeat lying on your bed staring at the ceiling after he's broken up with you," and consistently wonderful, lovely lyrics. (The boy was an English major, after all. Focus on 19th century lit, I believe? I only learned this after I was like, dude, your lyrics are amazing and he was like, duh, english major.) It's all pulled together by Todd's low, lovely, slightly weird crooning, personal in a way that you don't know if he's singing just to you or just to himself.

So now you should go to Arms' myspace page and listen to some songs. "Whirring" is a personal favorite, and "Eyeball" is weirdo brilliant. If you swing by the iTunes store to listen to samples, "Jon the Escalator" is awesome, and "Ana M" is the high school post-breakup song I was talking about before. July 29th there's a record release PARTY! at Union Pool, so, well done, Todd, being awesome enough to get me to hipster hell for your music.

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