Saturday, August 8, 2009

2003 : 14-15 Aught Music Roundtable: A.R.E. Weapons by A.R.E. Weapons

Roundtable Part One: "Bad News" "Don't Be Scared"

In the story I heard, A.R.E. Weapons were signed to Rough Trade on the menacing energy of two early songs: "Black Mercedes" and "Street Gang." These songs are built around smoggy, murky electronics, and they feature vocals that mumble transgressive stuff about drugs and violence. Transgression sells, and it's easy to imagine the record company happily imagining that they were sitting on the next Suicide.

"Black Mercedes" and "Street Gang" are buried way at the end of the resultant full-length, however, and every other song on the album is in a completely different vein: specifically, a cheesy fist-pumping inspirational vein. It's pretty easy to imagine most of these songs as the soundtrack for a training montage in a 1980s sports film: the track "Bad News," in fact, is an explicit homage to the Bad News Bears.

The album never really loses its transgressive edge, though, so it almost ends up seeming like it's engaged in the project of prying the emotional pleasures of "positive" anthemic music away from jocks and giving it to the burnouts, druggies, and losers. Consequently, you end up with bonkers stuff like "Don't Be Scared," which contains verses like the following:

People think you're a sleaze
Cause you're down on your knees
Suckin dick, every night
Aw, that's alright
People think you're retarded
Maybe even cold-hearted
Cause you only care about yourself
You don't care bout no one else
People think you're a spazz
Just because you're a spazz
So what?
Spazz on, spazz
People think you're wrong, kid
Take it from me
You're doin all right
You're doin all right

Er... OK... but... are you just pulling my leg here? Is this some kind of album-length experiment in irony? Anyone who's ever felt like a loser can surely enjoy the endorphin rush "Don't Be Scared" provides, but is it really all right to only care about yourself?

I've been listening to this album steadily since 2003, and still can't quite puzzle out exactly what the band is up to. I intend this as nothing other than the highest praise.

Roundtable Part Two: "Hey World"

The kids still don't have a radio station that they can believe in

I think this song tries to justify school shootings because kids are bored and do not have anything to do. There is something disturbing about this song and that is why I cannot turn away from it. I have to listen over and over again. My question is: why do kids need a radio station they can believe in when they have the internet?

Rich Thomas

Listen: A.R.E. Weapons >> "Bad News" | "Don't Be Scared" | "Hey World"

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