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Tag: Anchors For Arms

Anchoring Down on Solid Rock

It might be bad to say that I’m immediately reminded of several other bands by the Steel to Dust EP from Portland band Anchor Down.
First of all, and bearing no weight on the quality of the music, the band’s name is reminiscent of a band that I’ve reviewed here on IC – Anchors For Arms – which subsequently reminds me of the now defunct local OKC band, Arms For Arsenal. So initially it was difficult to identify the band separately from these bands in my mind.

Upon listening comes the second set of bands I’m reminded of. Anchor Down favors the same sort of melodic, Midwestern-flavored punk rock that one might hear from the likes of the Gaslight Anthem (one of my favorite bands, so that’s a good thing for this reviewer), American Steel and my good friends from OKC, Red City Radio. The sound is strong and definitely feels like the sort of anthem one needs for a long car drive with the windows down on a summer afternoon with fists pumping. It’s energetic and has a lot of spirit to it.

The guitars are relatively simple but highly effective, with driving power chords and subdued riffs that never come off as flashy. The bass and drums on these six songs are both solid and show a degree of skill from Matt Brown and Sean Cisneros, but Brown’s bass definitely takes a backseat to Cisneros’ drumming and is by far the least noticeable part of the band’s sound. Cisneros especially shows his skill in the intro to “Crass-A-Nova.” The vocals from guitarists Alex Hudjohn and Lucas Andrews compliment the music quite well, but fail to really stand out over the instrumentation, since both rarely show more variation or range that a gruff baritone. This slight monotony tends to make the vocals less attention-grabbing, which is a shame because the lyrics are quite well written. Fortunately, this isn’t a problem for “World War 1,” the EP’s definite stand-out track, or for “Never Was A Lesson Learned (Remember Me),” which I would say is runner up to the title.

I think Steel to Dust shows a great amount of promise from this group, and I very much look forward to future releases to see how they refine their sound. I will be quite content to let the songs play whenever they pop up on my iTunes, but I can’t say I’ll be listening to this EP over and over again. If you enjoy bands like Gaslight Anthem or Dillinger Four, or just like good, solid rock music, I would definitely recommend checking out Anchor Down.

Anchors For Arms-Listen.React Oort Records

Anchors For ArmsListen.React

Oort Records

Great musicality in a pop-punk/emo package.

It’s hard not to think that you’ve heard all this before when you pop in Anchors for Arms’ debut album, Listen.React. The band tends to tread the road more traveled. The band doesn’t separate itself from the crowd in an already overcrowded pop-punk genre with their debut, but the band does do the genre better than many who try. Even so, one can’t help but feel that the music is rather generic.

Musically, the band displays a lot of talent. Guitarists Chris Sanders and Kenny Donovan pull off some impressive riffs and great crunching rhythms. Drummer Matt Valenzuela rides the cymbals and the bass drum like a cowboy, giving the music a furious energy suitable to the band’s lyrics. Bassist/vocalist Ryan Lawless is quite good on the bass and while vocally he hits all the right notes in all the right places, his voice seems too cut and paste. You could take any decent singer from any decent pop-punk or emo band and it would work just as well.

The band does churn out a few memorable tracks, like “Machines,” which had me singing along before I’d finished listening to it for the first time. The ballad “No Gravity” shows a noticeably more melodic side of the band and features some of the more impressive lyrics of the album. “On” stands out particularly for its distinct guitar riffs. The final track, “Kingdom Came (It Looks Like We’re On Our Own),” ends the album on a high note with some spot-on vocal harmonies and an unusually infectious rhythm.

Anchors For Arms displays talent and potential with Listen.React, but ultimately, their songwriting style leaves them falling in line with the hordes of other pop-punk/emo bands out there that have already found their time in the sun. This is a band that would likely benefit greatly from becoming a little more experimental with its music. They can stick with the pop-punk/emo formula, but there’s still room to make it sound distinct from the other bands out there. If they do, it could really be something special.

Nate Williams