Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Tidal Arms' "The Sun Exploding" Stuns Exploding In Sound

In the darkness of Brooklyn, a borough overrun by hipsters in fluorescent tees, bad haircuts, and skinny jeans, a juggernaut has emerged. A massive force ready to shake the lo-fi scenesters very foundations of what is truly awesome has been awakened. They go by the name of Tidal Arms, and thankfully, they’re bringing the heavy back into one of the East Coast’s finest musical communities on their self released debut The Sun Exploding. The trio is comprised of Tom Tierney (vocals/guitar), Patrick Southern (bass), and most notably former From Autumn to Ashes/Warship member Francis Mark (drums), but don’t let his past affiliations fool you, Tidal Arms is 100% a beast of its own nature. The guys have constructed a careful balance of the complex and the serene, interspersing dizzying time changes and mind altering math rock with dense walls of sound and expansive atmospherics nearing post-rock territory. Cloudy vocals float between brutal guitars, thick as bricks rhythms, and the secret ingredient… a healthy dose of psychedelic indie rock. Tidal Arms may be the most badass band to emerge from the thriving Brooklyn scene in sometime, and they succeed without alienating any audiences. Indie kids, metal-heads, math rock freaks, post-punkers, stoners, psych rockers, and yes… even hipsters, can all agree that The Sun Exploding was intelligently constructed by a band who clearly loves the music they’re making, creating a phenomenal debut album in the process.

“The Dust Collecting” quietly starts the album’s gracious ascent, offering shimmering post-rock fuzz that grows with intensity via earth rumbling bass accents. Serving as an intro for title track “The Sun Exploding,” the segue is seamless. The band begins to flex their math rock muscle with swarming rhythms and circular riffs that dance around the dense drums fills. Tierney’s vocal performance is restrained yet spectacular as it creeps through the shadows of the mix, never forcing its way to the front. “Past Prosperity” takes a more aggressive approach, arriving with a dark and ominous intro as though Jaws was about to come rip you in half. The tension is quickly snapped as Tidal Arms burst forward into acrobatic riffs and monstrous low end treading between spastic post-punk and sludgy stoner rock. It’s this kind of juxtaposition that makes the trio unique, as they keep you transfixed on what will come next then delivering with a knockout blow.

“Heavy Brainfall” slowly drips listeners into just about the complete opposite direction, forgoing the manic heaviness for a slower ambient texturing. While the gentle spaced out melody does eventually gain some force, the song continues along in a peaceful drift until the eventual crescendo and gorgeous heavy conclusion. Tierney doesn’t miss an opportunity to make an impression though, as he lights up the song’s hook with shimmering finger tapping while managing to keep things rather calm in the process. Keeping the listener on their toes, “Driftwood” cranks the intensity right back to 11, opting for a guttural attack of polyrhythms and woozy distorted vocals seemingly inspired by the likes of Drive Like Jehu or The Jesus Lizard. The mayhem breaks down to a crawl during the bridge, clearing all the distortion and allowing for a dazzling discordant stroll as Tierney’s voice is given the rare but welcomed spotlight. “Hair and Teeth” arrives with a quiet vocal intro soaked in reverb, slithering forward over the staccato guitar picking before the rhythm rages in, Mark’s cymbals erasing any calming sensibility. Tierney let’s his vocal chords loose during the second verse, howling and shouting in a way that would make David Yow proud. This isn’t clean and nice, the word “pretty” doesn’t really apply here and we’re grateful for that.

“Several Circles” draws the reigns back into murky psychedelic atmosphere, trading sheer walls of sound for delicate textures and dreamy layering. Explosive tempo shifts twist and turn in every direction, with Mark and Southern contorting the rhythm without warning into their own brilliant design. “Lower Slaughter” oozes with a syrupy drawl from Tierney, dragging the stoned melody over the shifting time signatures and Southern’s thick bass groove. For a debut record, it simply doesn’t get much tighter than this. The vibe remains dark and expansive on “Swarm in Five,” a spiraling instrumental track steeped in post-rock grandiosity tangled with furious post-punk complexity. “Social Landlord” brings the gloom into an uptempo path of destruction, pushing further into the heavy psych realm with hypnotic riffs and a thunderous rhythmic workout. Tierney’s guitar playing jumps to warp speed as the diabolical riff buries itself deep into your memory for days on end. With the band serving as support on the legendary Glassjaw’s first major national tour in quite some time, Tidal Arms are sure to get the exposure they deserve and look to establish themselves as a definite contender for 2011’s “rookie of the year”.

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