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7,025 out of 10,000:
At first, Arlo seems the type of band to be dismissed as an amalgam of other bands: a little Smithereens, an unfortunate dose of The Offspring, Pavement a la Spiral Stairs, and remember The Outfield? One can hear some of their harmonies at points. Eventually this band rises above such comparisons and dismissals and takes on it's own shape. Good for them. Some songs on Up High in the Night chug along like unremarkable punk, but most of them display some differentiation that earns remark. Unexpected chord changes, rhythmic tacks, some oohing vocals are inserted in unlikely spots. Nice little guitar phrasings and harmonies pop here and there, giving the band quality.

It's not blow your mind quality. I don't see myself putting Up High in the Night on my player every night. In fact, it might be a function of reviewing that gets this album reconsidered, what with the seeming obligation not to dismiss

"Forgotten", the kick off track, might be better, well, forgotten, and sends those Outfield signals. "Sittin' on the Aces" recalls The Offspring, but fortunately eschews the wiseass, nothing to say obviousness of that band and delivers something more muscular and imaginative (cool ooh). "Lil' Magic" is it's own thing and "Nerf Bear Bonanza" takes the Spiral Stairs sound in a nice new direction (What will Spiral Stairs' album sound like? What if it's really good, like Stephen Malkmus'? That would be good. I like really good albums. Is he really calling the band some name other than Spiral Stairs? I think he should call it Spiral Stairs, because I like saying and typing Spiral Stairs.)

The best tunes are "Oh Yeah" and "Shutterbug". "Oh Yeah" is a slow, marching number, that unrolls its melody like a royal carpet as the drums and guitars build as if to welcome the king. The simple "oh yeah" chorus works, and as you know, when "oh yeah" works, then oh yeah. "Shutterbug" has an infectiously catchy guitar part and some fine falsettos, and wouldn't be out of place on some teen movie soundtrack, yet doesn't make me want to kill the band.

Those songs are also the most distinctly Arlo numbers, which bodes well for the future. Up High in the Night isn't a great record, but I wouldn't be surprised if they come out with something singular in the future.

-- Dan Kilian


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