A FLEA OF A DIFFERENT
review by Darren Paltrowitz
photos courtesy of
Arnold's web site
just doesn't get any easier these days. Spawn three mega-hook top ten singles within
a period of five months, sell out a six-month tour of arena-sized venues... and then
fade into obscurity. Arnold, named after bassist's Phil Payne's dog,
does not follow this path. On 1998's "Hillside," (a follow-up to the previous
year's critically acclaimed, lo-fi "The Barn Tapes") the beautiful melody
sustains the material -- a strength far more durable.
Thankfully, Arnold is not another band
dishing out the 'fifteen minutes' formula, but rather, have a focus on making wonderful,
song "Fleas Don't Fly," offers soft harmony laced vocals and hushed instrumentation,
setting a melancholy tone. The gentle semi-acoustic pace continues for the next few
tracks but abruptly changes for the fifth song, "Country Biscuit." Clocking
in at sixty-two seconds, "Country Biscuit," with its off-key whistling
and an out of tune acoustic guitar, was recorded in one take in which the band gathered
round a single microphone. Yep! "Curio" is another noteworthy tune which
boasts a strong and clear melody above a blend of a simple drum machine, minor keyboard
work and an acoustic guitar.
on "Hillside" seem to stem from a wide radius. "Rabbit" is a
mood evoking spoken work over soft melody; a perfect target for exploitation by commercial
interests -- if Arnold would ever allow such an application. (Highly unlikely.) The
hammer-on guitar technique on "Mickey's Mother" is reminiscent of the Led
Zeppelin's classic "Over The Hills And Far Away. "Moroccan Roll (Part
Two)" may briefly hint a liking of the Lennon/McCartney epic, "I
Am The Walrus."
Arnold's "Hillside" proves
to the international music scene that, though rare, excellence and integrity in artistry
of Phil Morris (lead vocals, guitar), Mark Saxby (guitar, vocals),
and Phil Payne (bass, vocals) shines as one of England's most promising new bands.
Main songwriters Mark Saxby's and Phil Morris' contrasting writing styles infuses
the material with an interesting dynamic axis.
Arnold is not another band dishing out the 'fifteen minutes' formula, but rather,
have a focus on making wonderful, unforgettable music. Arnold's "Hillside"
proves to the international music scene that, though rare, excellence and integrity
in artistry does sell.
Bassist Phil Phil Payne with t-h-e Arnold
Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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