I was commuting here on the fifth day of solid rain, contemplating the near certainty of my own band’s first post-pandemic gig being cancelled tonight (the third cancellation in a row), in near standstill because the lights were out when I spotted a blue pool noodle sitting across the turn lane. Large white trucks were running it over, yet it retained its geometry. I considered further slowing traffic to capture a video because fuck it. But I didn’t. I am 52 and the Armed is on the Bluetooth.
The Armed are a misfit phalanx of bodybuilders and club ingenues and sorta-metal nerds from the ruins of Detroit, a mutant blossom in the poisoned soil of hard rock. They are the kind of post-everything, did-they-make-this-music-on-purpose music on which we can blame the nagging persistence of Mike Patton, but unlike Mr. Bungle, which inspires me to self-harm, the Armed fill me with a weird sort of life power. Just look at them!
You cannot look away. Maybe this is Tim and Eric metal. Maybe this is what happens when children grow up under parents who cannot let go of the Pixies and they eschew the quiet part of the quiet-loud-quiet formula. Maybe this rules. Back to video.
Conscious high art-low art imagecraft runs through the veiny sinews of the Armed. The song titles are in all caps, as to pop on Spotify and also reflect a similar trend in leftfield hip-hop. There is music to accompany this image scheme as well. They are a band.
The Armed deals in ragey groove, with a fun heart beating through the static, as if you are hearing a party going on next door while someone is running a blender in your kitchen. “AN ITERATION” blares out in the sweet defiance of the liberal arts undergrad informing their parents they no longer believe in God over a holiday roast.
I fell for some
Young white savior.
He sang to me.
A blue collar emulation.
An accent so affected.
And you feel it is sincere and an act. Meta-sincere? I don’t know anymore and I’m glad. The youth should baffle me. By all rights, my old problematic carcass should blip out of existence at the conclusion of one of their videos like a Korean media-horror allegory flick. Instead, I would be the guy that tells them as they pack up their sweat-soaked gear that they remind me a little of the Pixies and they would reply, “Huh. Never heard of them.”
That is when I would cease to exist. Another analogue would be Fucked Up, the Canadian Cheap Trick of post-hardcore, what with all the thunder laced with a distinct sense of a pop hook. Their maximalism casts the Armed as spectacle in the Dubordinest sense, the “most glaring superficial manifestation” of capitalism and information access gone unfettered (if a reaction is a manifestation of counter-reaction...) but they are also a spectacle in the glasses sense. A lens that brings something happening right now into focus. If it's all about me, they are a product of a wrecked world my generation has just begun to lay on them, but I do not exist in their paradigm. Instead, they are a radiant flower bursting through the sidewalk cracks, an expression of wild nature paved over by some forgotten elder clan. A pool noodle in the rain retaining its shape.
Alex V. Cook listens to everything and writes about most of it. His latest book, the snappily titled Louisiana Saturday Night: Looking for a Good Time in South Louisiana's Juke Joints, Honky-Tonks, and Dance Halls is an odyssey from the backwoods bars and small-town dives to the swampside dance halls and converted clapboard barns of a Louisiana Saturday Night. Don't leave Heathrow without it. His first book Darkness Racket and Twang is available from SideCartel. The full effect can be had at alex v cook.com
about Alex V. Cook »»
Outsideleft exists on a precarious no budget budget. We are interested in hearing from deep and deeper pocket types willing to underwrite our cultural vulture activity. We're not so interested in plastering your product all over our stories, but something more subtle and dignified for all parties concerned. Contact us and let's talk. [HELP OUTSIDELEFT]
If Outsideleft had arms they would always be wide open and welcoming to new writers and new ideas. If you've got something to say, something a small dank corner of the world needs to know about, a poem to publish, a book review, a short story, if you love music or the arts or anything else, write something about it and send it along. Of course we don't have anything as conformist as a budget here. But we'd love to see what you can do. Write for Outsideleft, do. [SUBMISSIONS FORM HERE]