PAPER ARMS: The Smoke Will Clear: CD

Man, this is a real polarizing release for me. At first listen, these guys seem to be doing everything right but something is amiss. First of all, Paper Arms seems just a little too comfortable mining the gold of post-hardcore titans Strike Anywhere, Rise Against, and Hot Water Music to have anything resembling a unique identity. This is literally by-the-buttons post-hardcore. The band/label even went so far as to have Brian McTernan mix the album to make it totally authentic. To be fair, they could have done far worse. I wouldn’t exactly complain if it were playing in my vicinity but I just couldn’t see myself ever listening to this even if it is a fair forgery. In short, this disc makes me think of those label adverts in zines that say “for fans of…”. Likewise, I have always viewed punk bands with suspicion when their CD’s liner notes point out the band’s endorsements.

 –Garrett Barnwell (Poison City, poisoncityrecords.com)