ARRIVALS, THE: Volatile Molotov: LP

Dec 28, 2010

One of the Grand Punk Paradoxes for me is this: I have loved punk rock for the past twenty-five years on a continual basis. I continue to love punk rock. Yet the music, the form, the approach, the culture, the intent, the delivery—practically everything about it—has fundamentally morphed away from its origins somewhere in the late ‘70s. So, if the Ramones, The Bags, The Weirdos, and the Clash are punk, and punk died, what’s left? (Punk’s death is something I don’t believe. I do believe that punk dies in people and that if you repeat something enough times, regardless of truth, people start believing it.) Are punks in their late thirties—too young to surf the first wave, but old enough to put a lifetime in—delusional? Merely hangers-on? Leeches attached to ghosts of nostalgia? No one seriously talks about a wide-scale punk music revolution anymore. Almost every lifer punk I know doesn’t even look like what when someone from the outside shuts their eyes and imagines a punk rocker. But no other term has come along, no other label’s ever stuck. Saying that it’s “music” is too broad; like the term “world music” is just fuckin’ stupid and racist (because I don’t know any bands that have recorded in outer space yet, all music is world music). Digging into smaller and smaller subgenres doesn’t do anyone any good. Parts further isolated will eventually be mocked, suffocated, and destroyed. The Arrivals bring all of this thinking to the forefront. Bar none, they are one of my favorite bands, and have been since their debut Goodbye New World, in 2000. So, I could say, “They’re so much more than punk,” but why divorce them from my favorite form of music so some squares will have fewer wrong preconceived notions and may actually give a wonderful band a chance? I want to celebrate it, bar none, not serve it on a clean plate to fancy, fickle people who mostly suck anyhow. So I came up with a quick, personally helpful device. If someone calls any band that I like “punk,” and they mean it as a compliment, I’ll take it. If someone dismisses music as “just punk,” and they mean it as a slag, that they’ve got the entire enterprise figured out and it’s now a waste of anyone’s time, they can go fuck themselves. With all that mind, The Arrivals have just made one of the best records—and have one of the strongest catalogs—of any band in the past ten years. Punk or not. It’s a big, fat fuckin’ paradox.

 –todd (Recess)

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