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December 2, 2023

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The Arrivals
Exsenator Orange (Thick Records)

By: Vinnie Apicella

Early indications are of a faster, feistier Damned knit together with ethno-centric Pop/HC hybrids from USC, where sonic bursts of speed offset bass breaks and squint-induced vocal brokering -- and if the groove to "Born With A Broken Heart" alone don't make you wanna pick up a guitar, forget it and maybe you'll find the accordion's more your speed. "Analee" is The Ramones' without Joey's voice; "-1" is Weezer with an over-caffeineated drummer-- I don't think there's a single song that tops the two-minute mark on this record -- a true test of Punk Rock sincerity if ever there was any. The Arrivals embrace bands like The Ramones and Cheap Trick and many of the late great Punk Rock casualties of a dead gone leather-led generation -- Dead Boys, Dolls', even at the barest threads, where associatively, there's the illegal Edelbrock outburst; a punctured muffler of a sound without the slightest regard for emissions laws. "Just Another Union Song" is, you guessed it, a song about "union" both in the traditional "teamsters" sense and in their chosen path, but their best talent follows a tune like "This Is My Shovel, This Is My Grave." This is where second thoughts and second guessing give way to forward looking certainty for an emotional downturn that's nearly beaten' down and blown to bits by the intensified bloodletting of "Dirty Inches," which if you can make sense of the title from the lyrics, you're already ahead. "Goodnight From Paris" is another return to "Machine Gun" era Damned that's not altogether coherent since the very first "Dar La Luz" track, but such goes far to examine not only the sonic dexterity of The Arrivals but the quick change effects of who, what, and how they employ their uniqueness of identity. All the parts are in place on the sophomore effort, a cool but crude brand of Hard Rock hyperextension by a Chicago foursome bore of the honest lyric and workmanlike approach!
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