Arms is Todd Goldstein, guitarist for Brooklyn’s Harlem Shakes. Kids Aflame is his debut album, and it’s a stunning introduction to a truly talented, multi-faceted songwriter. Songs like “Construction” and “Sad, Sad, Sad”, highlight Goldstein as a gifted composer with their depth and complexity, while others like “Tiger Tamer” are straight ahead guitar-driven rockers. The title track features a ukulele, sweet harmonies and smart, but unaffected lyrics, making it one of several stand-out songs here.
The biggest highlights, however, are “Shitty Little Disco” and “John the Escalator”. “Shitty Little Disco” is such a sharp and shiny hook, snaring listeners so instantly and insistently, that it’s as if the song has always existed in the back of our brains. It has an angularity akin to Joy Division, but its edges are polished and gleaming, giving the overall effect of early New Order. “John the Escalator” is reminiscent of late ‘80s Smiths (although the title recalls Depeche Mode). It’s an addictive, sing-along, shamble of a song. As Arms, Goldstein has produced perhaps one of the best debuts of 2008, Kids Aflame is a sparkling little lo-fi gem.
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// Notes from the Road
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