7" Review: Arrivals, Razorcake "Sister Series"

Arrivals at the Hexagon
Arrivals at the Hexagon
Loren Green

Labels like gritty, Chicago pop-punk only go so far in explaining what the Arrivals sound like. Much of what falls under the punk umbrella lacks their keen, melodic focus. They achieve this through a layered influence of older styles that underlies the passionate DIY ethos from co-vocalists Dave Merriman, whose sounds more heartfelt of the two, contrasted with Isaac Thotz's hard-knock, firebrand style delivery. The Arrivals haven't been a very prolific group, though they've increased activity since [Dillinger Four's] Paddy Costello took over on bass. Their Razorcake Sister Series release features three new songs and one cover of the Grabass Charlestons.

The record definitely has an A-side/B-side distinction with the first two songs, "My Generation" and "I Wouldn't Dare," carrying the weight. The former title contemplates the effectiveness of countercultures as Thotz questions the status quo in his recognizable rasp. "I Wouldn't Dare" features a walking bassline and a '50s power pop feel permeating the melody and undercutting the aggression, which emphasizes Merriman's more sentimental manner.

When the record flips, things get a more experimental and less memorable. "Drill Baby Drill" has a dancey, syncopated rhythm, with Thotz doing a speak-sing over the music. The record closes with the signature of the Sister Series: bands covering one another. On the Grabass Charlestons' companion 7", there is an Arrivals cover as well. The idea is that the bands are well suited for each other and the record will spark interest in each artist. In this case, "Ask Mark Twain" is the most traditional punk song on the record, with straightforward yelling over loud guitars. The Arrivals make it their own between the verses, messing around with the structure in a way that's dangerously close to jamming. It's a fun way to close a 7", but it doesn't feel particularly inspired. The reason to buy this record is Side A. 

The hand-stamped Arrivals Sister Series 7" is available on the Razorcake website.

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