Arc & Stones (EP)

Arc & Stones

Independent release, 2013

REVIEW BY: Melanie Love


I’ve been spinning the eponymous debut EP from Arc & Stones on loop for about two days straight now; and so far, there are no signs that this awesome onslaught of crunching yet melodic blues rock is going to let up. Newly formed in July 2012, the quartet sounds like a band beyond their years, conjuring up comparisons to a more heartfelt (but no less vigorous) Black Keys or Raconteurs.

The EP is strong right out of the gate with “Silence;” vocalist Dan Pellarin is absolutely commanding, his full-throated confidence undercut with vulnerability on lines like “Silence is killing me / But her voice is telling me go / I’ll run to her love again / Run to the love in her smile.” The song dips and pulses with energy, accented by the slow-burning rise of Ben Cramer’s guitar riffing and the muscular rhythm section (made up of Eddy Bays on bass and Joey Doino on drums). This is the type of music that’s engaging on record but absolutely indelible live onstage. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Despite being a relatively new act that is still finessing their chops on the New York rock scene, Arc & Stones clearly has an innate feel for the structure of a song: when to coil the instrumentation in tight, building the tension, and when to unfurl into a crackling chorus. On “Say Goodbye,” which starts out tenderly acoustic and builds by minute three into a stomping, Queens Of The Stone Age-esque flurry, Cramer’s swirling guitars are the standout, lending the pacing for Pellarin’s vocal prowess.

But it’s third cut “Let Me Down” that set Arc & Stones apart for me. A more restrained bluesy ballad, Pellarin’s soaring voice finds company with keys and the deep jangling strum of the acoustic guitar. “Don’t let me down so easy / Don’t let me down so slow…By breaking me down you’re building a broken home,” he sings, his voice spare and haunted, but the song just keeps rising until it ultimately coalesces in a warm, singalong chorus. “Let Me Down” is a lovely turn of phrase and easily one of the best moments on an altogether cohesive EP.

There is really not a less than stellar moment to be found on Arc & Stones. “She’s Mine,” with its vigorous, cranked up to 11 instrumentation, is like AC/DC meets The Black Keys; Pellarin is all swagger, doing a full 180 from “Let Me Down” into full-throttle rock ‘n’ roll. Closing the disc out is “Rise,” unleashing Doino’s attacking drums and a totally electrifying guitar solo that reminds me that ‘70s rock is never truly dead.

My only critique of Arc & Stones is that it was over in five songs. This is a standout EP, a tantalizing taste of what is to come on the band’s full-length album, which is set to drop in February.

Rating: A

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