Colin Boppell, Chris Kalil, Peter Schrupp and Matt Sutton make up the band Arms Akimbo. The project started off with Schrupp who started to recruit other members as time rolled on. The band recently released a five-song EP entitled Vignettes. It’s a DIY effort that showcases musicians who enjoy playing pop music made for a ubiquitous audience. Some of the material sounds too much like mainstream pop you would expect to hear coming from California while some of it does better to show some originality. The band also goes off in some odd deviations, which were unexpected.
The highlight of the album by quite a wide margin is the first song “Shakin’.” I loved the way it starts with a great beat and vocal harmonies. The guitar work is inventive and the vocal performance feels loose, natural and fun. This is a great style for the band and I hope they use this as a foundation for their future work because it really works.
Even though “Simmer” has a funky bass line the California sunshine pop is certifiably mainstream and sounds like a lot of songs you would hear on the radio. You can basically picture the Abercrombie & Fitch ad with a bunch of suburban kids huddled around a campfire.
“Seven Mirrors” is an enjoyable song that is atmospheric and has an island like feel. The best parts are during the verse where the vocals aren’t stressed and there is a Vampire Weekend-esque type vibe. “Baby Doses” feels like a completely different band. The music is straight up R&B with a heavy hitting beat and James Blake type vocal delivery. It doesn’t make much sense as to why this song would on the EP as it starts painting a completely different picture of the band. The last song “A Part, Apart” has a similar feel to the first four songs and sounds best when they are rocking out.
Vignettes is a mixed effort displaying a band that still needs some focus and would most likely benefit from easing off on some of the current mainstream trends. The band found the most original aspect of their music in the first song “Shakin’” and occasionally moments within some of the other tracks.
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