Detroit’s Extra Arms release their forthcoming LP, What Is Even Happening Right Now? (Forge Again Records), Friday, June 3.
“What is even happening right now?”
Good lord! How many times have you said that to yourself in the last 2…3…4…10 years? Bat-shit presidents, natural disasters, a global pandemic, murder hornets, you name it – something fucked up is always happening.
Detroit power pop band Extra Arms knows this. They understand it. But instead of accepting it and moving on, they do something about it – they turn up the volume, and channel their confusion, frustration, and rage into catchy-as-hell bangers that make you want to punch a hole in the sky.
If you’re reading this, perhaps you’ve been here before. It’s possible that you have cranked their first full-band album – 2018’s Headacher – on a run through your neighborhood. Maybe you laughed and cried while speeding down the highway listening to 2019’s concept/break-up album for the ages, Up From Here. There’s even a chance you’ve been down since day one, and know some of singer/guitarist/songwriter Ryan Allen’s solo albums by heart.
But what is even happening RIGHT NOW? Well, Extra Arms has another record to blast into your ear holes. And this time, the guys just wanna have fun. Sure there’s some existential dread sewn into these ten cranked up rockers, but there’s also a sense of joy, positivity, and self-reflection that picks up where “Up From Here” (the album and the song) left off.
An ’80s video game sample ushers in the relentless, Superchunk-y “Fun Guy” – a redemption song with a title swiped from the nickname of basketball player Kawhi Leonard – and from there it’s pretty much ON. “Big Dogs” mixes Allen’s choppy delayed guitar with drummer Dan Stover’s propulsive beat and a hooky, sing-along bridge, all while being a heartfelt ode to man’s best friend. “Falling Into Place” is a minor key ripper with a stand-out Randy Rhodes-esque lead from guitarist Michael Gallacher. “Feeling Alright” bubbles and scrapes with Cars-esque synth, Ryan Marshall’s driving bass, and Allen’s hiccupy vocals. “Click Wars” calls out the conspiracy theorists, boasting the best Vox organ sound this side of Elvis Costello’s “This Year’s Model”. “Vulnerabilities” big ups the benefits of self-care, while pushing the riffs and rhythm to epic heights. “In Control” grinds with a stop-start dynamic, referencing the dark tones of Jawbreaker’s “Dear You”. “Life In A Cube” wonders what would happen if Foo Fighters covered Stereloab while soundtracking the movie Office Space. “Denial” goes hard after Fox News devotees, musically throwing a party where everybody from Rocket From the Crypt to the Go-Gos to the Ohio Players are invited. The album wraps with “I Don’t Wanna Die”, a go-for-broke jam that throws all of the band’s influences into the melting pot, reminding the listener that even in these dark times, there’s always something to live for. By the time it’s over you’ll be asking yourself what just happened. And then you’ll hit play again.
Now, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention a few details: The album was created in the era of social distance. Demos were made. Files were shared. Zoom calls were had. Masked-up band members convened in small numbers at engineer Chuck Huber’s Drifting Sun Studios. Tracks were captured there or flown in from home. Experiments were conducted. Bass parts were recorded in comfy pants. Oh, and we can’t forget the guests: Matthew Caws from Nada Surf, Bob Nanna from Braid/Hey Mercedes, Gregory Macdonald from Sloan, Lily Paul from the Plastic Beach, Scott Allen from Thunderbirds Are Now!, Chris Hatfield from Love Axe and saxophonist Matt Jones can all be found in the fibers of this album. All that was left was for Paul Miner (New Found Glory, Thrice, Touche Amore) to mix, master, and stick a fork in it.
So the only question left is: What is even happening…next? Well, only time will tell. But one thing is for sure: You’ll have a killer new Extra Arms album for the soundtrack.
Today, Ghettoblaster offers an early listen to the album.
“Let’s face it, being in a band is extremely difficult right now,” says singer/guitarist Ryan Allen. “Shows are essentially a health risk. Gas prices are so stupidly high that small bands can barely break even on the road. You’re constantly feeling like you have to ‘go viral’ in order to get anybody to pay attention to what you are doing. The days of pre-sales have transformed into pre-saves. And the algorithm seems like it’s constantly working against you. But despite all that, What Is Even Happening Right Now? is a record that we HAD TO make. Not because people wanted it or that there was an expectation on us to deliver it. But when you’re creative and have something to say, you can will yourself to do pretty much anything. That was the case with this record. We never rehearsed. We didn’t record it in the same room. We fought a little bit about it, even. But at the end of the day, the songs were just too good. The message was just too important. And like the Goonies, Extra Arms never say die. We’re proud of this record and feel like it deserves to be heard. So here you go, universe. Have at it. Just don’t forget to turn it up!”