Arizona Bay - EP
Owain Paciuszko 08/12/2010
Leeds based four piece begin this somewhat lengthy EP with a very Audioslave-esque building of rock atmosphere of Footsteps, moving through a melodic verse where Rhys Williams' vocals tremble a little too awkwardly, he's far more comfortable with the hollering over the choruses. It's a decent opening track, but it's kind of a done-to-death style of tune that is probably more exhilirating to play or in a live setting; Letting Go fairs better, a kind of Steppenwolf Americana broken heart rocker which chugs along nicely; a semi-rapped aside being the track's one major stumble.
Things slow down moreso on Nothing Left To Say But Goodbye, there's a good bubbling bassline from Oli Tsakonas, fine cowbell action from Rob Carruthers and on the choruses Williams and Sam Wood's guitars are suitably lively and emotive. It's the verses that are somewhat flacid, like a damp Bon Jovi, but they manage to build towards their choruses nicely and with time, as Williams' voice matures, this track could improve. However he lacks the unnatural agedness that makes the likes of Mark Lanegan or Chris Cornell's vocal performances work so well on this type of music.
Second Best is another laidback rock tune with a slightly tribal drum line over which Williams sings; 'I used to be somebody/And now I am somebody else.' Some of William's keening over the song's The Who style mid-section unfortunately distract from the decent musical arrangment behind them, either because he's pushed too high in the mix or because his vocal ability isn't quite ready for what he attempts, there are always points for trying, but on this occasion his efforts (which probably work live) fall flat.
There's some nice Kiss-style guitar noodling on Safe As You, and a decent grumbling guitar over pacy drums on Costain which has a mellow Janes Addiction feel to it. 'Every word you said is what I scream' gurns Williams at the outset of White Noise the 'closing' track on the record, a rocker that should be drenched in bitterness and anger, but kind of passes by without the arch-drama it seems to be reaching for. For example, Wiliams choice of when to stretch a note seem at odds with what he's singing; 'It hurts like Hell right now, but given tiiiiiiiimmmmmmmmmmeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee' seems like the wrong punctuation point, with his delivery lacking a lyric that would 'explain' his decision to howl it out. The EP ends with an acoustic 'bonus track' called Last Song.
There's a lot of ambition in these songs which sometimes outstretches the band's current ability, whilst they can put together a decent homage to classic rock and 90s grunge acts they often feel too much like a remake rather than an inspiration and this EP, in particular, plays a few too many of the same tricks over its 35 minute running time (many LPs are shorter). Arizona Bay are wading through tricky waters, their sound can feel dated as a result of its desire to exist as a product of the past, and as such they will be compared to bands who have had the time to become classic and cult artists; maybe with time as they get comfortable playing within the conventions they set themselves they'll be able to find their own sound a bit moreso than on this EP.