Ryan Allen’s previous bands Thunderbirds Are Now! and Friendly Foes were lauded but terribly under-appreciated. The through-line between all those projects was Allen’s uncanny knack for mining impossibly catchy hooks and latching them onto driving guitars and rhythm sections that barreled like a rollercoaster.
Allen’s new project Extra Arms continues that approach on their new release Headacher. It’s a collection of songs that pangs for real feeling and keeps tightening the vice throughout the length of the album. What’s remarkable is that instead of hooking these emotions up with chords full of dread, Extra Arms instead opts for sunny and optimistic musical tableaus. So while you’re singing along to incredibly vulnerable proclamations you still find your fist is pumping in the air. (And if you’re like me and living alone, dancing around your apartment like a fool.)
Allen manages to connect much of our current anxiety—and admit it, you’re freaking out on a daily basis too—to something that’s still joyful. No mean trick. The churning guitars roil and toil, but never sound tortured. And the drums and bass are so solidly in lockstep it might just shove you over as they pummel towards you.
Hmmmm, I just realized some of these descriptions might have you thinking Extra Arms is some emo outfit, but no! They are pure rock and/or roll. They’re catchy and honest—and while there’s certainly a level of self-awareness to the lyrics, navel-gazing and self-saturation are blow-torched out of the equation.
Extra Arms play The Burlington tonight. They are so good I’m rushing across town from another show so I don’t miss their set. You should too.