2016 was certainly a huge year for EC/MPLS punk band Arms Aloft: it saw them signed to punk label Red Scare Industries, the subsequent release of their new full length album–their first since 2014–entitled “What A Time To Be Barely Alive” (which we’ve embedded below), and a big time fall tour with punk supergroup The Falcon and standup comic/Comedy Central darling Kyle Kinane.
…we caught up with Arms Aloft frontman Seth Gile to find out about what he and the rest of the band have been listening to on the road and what other releases from 2016 they dug.
A Tribe Called Quest – We Got It From Here, Thank You 4 Your Service
We were on tour during the last week of the campaign and the first 3 weeks after the election and lemme tell you, it was a weird time to be at punk gigs every night. We listened to WEIRD music in the van every day with Mikey Erg and his band riding along. Trying to soundtrack weird vibes, I guess. Anyway, I didn’t even know this was gonna drop and then Mikey put it on the morning after it came out and we all went kinda ballistic. It was probably the most “stoked” anybody had felt in a week. Instant classic type of feeling, for sure. Gateway Drug: “We The People…”
Dead To Me – I Wanna Die In Los Angeles EP
This band kills. Never written a bad song, and these 3 are no exception. I also am totally crazy about the recording. Sounds like they did it live. Sounds awesome. The drums and bass are kinda too distorted and the guitars are kinda too clean and shit yeah. It’s perfect. The A side of this is 2 “classic” DTM jams and then the B side is one long song that sounds like the Damned meets The Clash meets 2019. It’s sick as hell. Gateway Drug: “Tune It Out” but cmon, the whole thing’s like 10 minutes.
Mikey Erg – Tentative Decisions
Like I said when I was talking about Tribe, we got to have Mikey and his band come along on a handful of gigs out on the east coast, which was super fun. The sweetest kids. It was super fun. Anyway, I’ve loved Mikey’s songs since back in The Ergs days and he’s been talking about making this solo record for years. Worth the wait. Was so much fun seeing these songs every night. Also, “I wish you loved me and blah blah blah / And I wasn’t lonely and blah blah blah” is just about my favorite poppunk lyric ever. Gateway Drug: “Comme Si About Me”
Gouge Away – Dies
This record could’ve come out in the early 2000’s hardcore scene, sonically. But like, if that scene hadn’t been full of recovering-Christian, haircut, meathead bro-dudes. When I showed it to Alex, he called it “Woke Blacklisted” and I don’t hate that description. I can’t stand hardcore generally, because I feel like the aggression and/or the earnestness feels completely forced about 99.9% of the time, but these songs just couldn’t be played any other way. “Until Every Cage is Empty” makes me want to burn down a university lab. Fuck, this band is cool. Gateway Drug: “Wildflowers”
Guerilla Poubelle – Inferno EP
Some of our best buddies in whole world, these ones. When we get to play with these guys in the US, Till always tells people that if you can’t understand their lyrics in French just use an Arms Aloft song but replace all the cat references with dogs. I hope he’s right because this band is wonderful. Lyrical themes you might not follow (unless your French is good as hell or you pester Till about it once you’re drunk enough) but you can somehow still feel every word. Don’t have to understand a single thing he’s saying to know he means it. Love these guys. Gateway Drug: “La Substance”
Hyuna – A*wesome EP
I’m an irony-free sucker for dance pop. I listen to a ton of this shit, because I think there’s something interesting in the economy of writing to the lowest common denominator. It’s like how shit’s funnier on twitter because you have to get it out in 140 letters. If you HAVE to stick to a bunch of tropes and can still pull off something that sounds unique, you’re a wizard to me. Something interesting about the intellectual economy (he says, seriously. Like an asshole.). Enter whoever wrote these songs. Perfect fucking K-Pop from one the biggest acts “in the game” as it were. Whatever. Don’t @ me. Gateway Drug: “U & Me”
This came out in 2015, probably. I don’t care about that though, because I didn’t hear it til this fall and it might be my favorite thing I heard all year. I first saw Ratboys at The Fest in Gainesville, FL in October and I was running a fever of about 103. I was just ABSOLUTELY miserable and trying to hang in there. Anyway, I ended up nursing a beer, high as hell on DayQuil and watching this band. I am certain I had the grin of someone at a shit buffet through the whole set. I wasn’t sick for like a half hour of that entire month, and it was that half hour. Just totally what my entire being needed. Naturally, soon as they were done, no doubt due to the combination of beer and DayQuil, I promptly forgot they existed. Nice, Seth. Anyway, like a month later I was reminded by my lawyer/agent/love of my life Conor Mackie, Esq. (shoutout to Conor, hey way to go) that I had seen them and loved them and I bought the LP. Anticlimactic, I realize. But for real, probably my top record of MY 2016. The kind of band that’s so good that you don’t wanna tell anybody about them, you know? Gateway Drug: “Tixis”
Before I go…people were sure beating the “2016 is the worst! Fuck off, 2016!” horse to a pulp. But I gotta say, if you think it was bad cause Prince died or whatever, wait’ll you get a load of 2017. It isn’t looking hot if you haven’t been playing along. It’s gonna be a scary few years, everybody. Let’s do what we can to make sure if anybody’s left out in the cold, kept up at night, or made to hear footsteps behind them that it’s the fascist fucks that just took office. That said; I guess here’s to every year being a little less dark than the last. Peace!