Whether it be music, sports or just life in general, there is a feeling you get when everything seems to be simply perfect. In golf it is referred to as “the perfect swing,” that moment when, as soon as you strike the ball you just know it is perfect. In music it is when you find yourself waking up with the song in your head after only two listens. It is the pinnacle of amazement. It doesn’t have to be pretty, but to you, it is flawless.
The Brooklyn-based Arc & Stones are the perfect swing on a monumentally daunting course. As “Silence” eases in on the simple riff/piano duet, just before Dan Pellarin’s vocals breathe into your soul, you know, deep down, this is it. The remaining four minute-twelve seconds will leave you a changed music fan. And this is all just the opening track to their self-titled EP. A&S’ vintage blues infused rock sound is unlike anything I have heard in a very long time. They are spectacularly fresh in a world overrun by the mundane.
Their five-track EP doesn’t just lay down tracks as a “here’s what we’ve got” as so many bands do, it transports you to another world finely crafted by the talents of Dan Pellarin, Ben Cramer, Eddy Bayes and Joe Doino. “Say Goodbye” and “Let Me Down” carry the melodies down a notch with their mildly southern rock styles reminiscent of deep-track Kings of Leon. “She’s Mine” kicks it up a notch with a grinding blues guitar backing heartfelt lyrics. It creates a rough exterior to what we know is a passionate ballad. Without missing even an iota of skill, these gents suck you into the track and you’d be hard pressed to resist moving to their infectious licks. Sealing off the life-changing EP, A&S give us “Rise.” As if a call to arms, the track reiterates just how great these four are at what they do.
The vision of Dan Pellarin and Ben Cramer, Arc & Stone remains a duo while benefiting from the talents of some other great musicians. Throughout, Pellarin’s voice belts out precision rock with personality and grace, Cramer’s guitar dances on the frets like a seasoned veteran when needed and then accompanies the melodies for balance at all the right moments. Bayes’ bass glues the explosive sound together with complimenting precision and Doino rounds out the rhythm with, simply put, fantastic skills on the skins. In fact, this duo is quite possibly the most talented group that could still be considered “Independent.”
The moment I hit play, I knew this EP was something special; thirty listens later, it still has my jaw on the floor. If you’ve never experienced an album that gets better and better with each listen, this is it. Arc & Stones are a ticking time bomb of talent and it is just a matter of time before they take the world by storm. I challenge you to not become addicted to this insanely impressive five track EP. Arc & Stones is music’s “perfect swing.”
I had a dream the other night; it seemed like a movie. I was driving my car with no apparent destination. I went so fast that the landscape around me kept changing suddenly. I don’t know if there is a place in reality where you can find yourself in the blinding glare of the neon lights of the city one moment and on a country road, bathed in sunlight, surrounded by endless corn fields the next. The fact is that, contrary to what happens in most of my dreams, there was no music in the background. Nothing at all coming from the radio, not a single sound, a note, nothing. But, if I had the ability to catapult myself into my dreams, now I know for sure that in my car I’d have a copy of Arc & Stones’ EP. If it is true that dreams, while being free from the concept of time and space, last no more than a few minutes, this album by the homonymous band from Brooklyn would be the perfect soundtrack for my nocturnal imagination.
The first track, “Silence”, a powerful ballad, with a so well defined and directed refrain, can easily become a hit at mainstream international levels. It is perfectly suited to the “city mood” and its intro is the figurative ignition of the car, the lights on the dashboard, the first meters in our neighborhood. But when the verse and chorus meet in a musical crescendo, I feel like a lost driver, while at the same time excited to wander the streets of a strange city; a city with smoke coming from manholes, the tired faces of people just going back home from work and my car continues a dance of speed up, slow down, like a frantic daily ballet.
In the dream I could, not without difficulty, overcome the urban jungle and within a few minutes find myself under the starry sky, so I stopped to admire the celestial vault. “Say Goodbye,” whispering through the open windows, was the musical background while my breath turned to condensation. I stood there listening to the music, I had just to “say goodbye” to the city, but already the impetuous speed of the song suggested to me that I could not stay long to think, I had to be back on the road, like a modern Kerouac.
I resumed my path, driving aimlessly until dawn; singing “Let Me Down” while the glass continued to fog and the sun slowly peeking out from the rear windshield. Here, I was going to the West, with the sun behind me, that’s all I needed to know. The chorus of “Do not let me down” came to crown a night spent with red eyes from staring straight at the road and throat of fire from too many cigarettes. The fields began to be populated by old farmers, wrinkled, their hands stiff and gnarled and bent back. “She’s Mine” emphasizes the atmosphere, with a sound that seems to come from musicians who have seen it all, including a glass of tequila, the stories of the older workers in the tavern, a slide bottleneck and an amplifier ready to scream out all the blues that the old wood and valves have accumulated over the years. “Rise” at the end my trip, is fast paced, dark and mysterious. What am I doing here? How did I get here? I cannot really tell you, I will not stop now. I must rise, keep on pushing and continue on my way following my horizon. The stereo has stayed with me for almost 24 hours in my dream, but in reality it was no more than a few minutes.
But it’s enough for me to be able to say that “Arc & Stones EP” is one of the albums that inspires me, musically and mentally, dreaming or not. Like my stereo, the support for my aimless travels, Arc & Stones will continue to play without wavering while it accompanies me.