Sonic Reducer

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Arm’s Way only fails when compared to Islands‘ debut. Return to the Sea was a multi-genre fever dream of bright melodies juxtaposed with death-themed lyrics. Arm’s Way is a stellar record in its own right. Singer-songwriter and Unicorns founder Nick Thorburn is still able to conceive precise guitar rock interrupted at just the right times with string interludes or steel drum jam-outs. But Arm’s Way is darker and almost gothic compared to Return , and most of its tracks follow a simpler path to where they’re going. Islands’ directionally obscure endeavors are few and far between on the new release, and that was part of the band’s initial charm. (SM)

Flobots Fight With Tools (Universal Republic)

Hold your fist high: Fight With Tools is kinetically charged with political and social activism. The circuitry behind the album is wired with issues about racial segregation, social barriers and malnourished communities. Though original in a sense— Flobots comes equipped with two witty MCs, a killer rhythm section, a trumpet player and a classically trained violist—the music arrangement sounds similar to the likes of Heiruspecs. “Handlebars,” the album’s single, flows with a punchy rhythm and recurring catchphrases. Flobots has the potential to rouse minds, but let’s hope it follows through with the next album. (JH)

From First To Last From First To Last (Suretone Records)

The fact that this band once released an album titled Dear Diary, My Teen Angst Has A Bodycount doesn’t bode well. Neither does the fact that they toured with the likes of Fall Out Boy and The All-American Rejects. Yeah, that’s what we’re dealing with—vapid, whiney screamo with all the narcissistic themes of alienation you’ve come to expect from such an adolescent-marketed assemblage of crap. It makes me feel sorry for the kids. (JCC)

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