A Season of Songs, day 32: Alphabet

A Season of Songs is a type of Fun-A-Day project that I plan to do throughout this spring.  I’ll hit shuffle on the ol’ iPod and see what comes up.  I’ll then write a bit about that song, the band, the record, whatever.  Enjoy!

Alright – starting the 2nd trimester of this Spring…let’s get stoked!!

Today we have the track “Alphabet” by Arcing, taken from their 2012 “Doubt” LP, a limited-run (200 copies) release with hand-screened covers.  Arcing consists of both members (Art and Gus) of Tiny Hawks and Hilary from Whore Paint.  A promising line-up.  The record also has a song called “Life Full of Fuck It“.  Nice.  This was a record destined for me to own and love.

In the bath, the child tears as it’s preened.
On the road, raccoons swollen like grapefruit.
In my life are both the honeycomb and the burrs.

I would have first met Gus Martin sometime in early 1993 during my second semester of college.  I had gotten into punk rock my first semester and starting hanging out with some classmates who were from the nearby Lancaster scene.  Gus was still in high school at that time (and already had a full beard) and played bass for the band Spirit Assembly.  This was when they were still playing poppy punk rock as a four piece. By later that year they would shed their vocalist and move towards a more serious emo sound.  Spirit Assembly would become a huge influence on me over the coming years, both as a band and as individuals. Great musicians, they were all fun to watch play their instruments, especially Gus.  He was a great bassist.  Gus, Sam and Dru made incredible music but also were just great people – honest, humble, funny.  They were one of the reasons it was so great to be part of that Lancaster scene in the mid 90’s.

After I graduated college, Spirit Assembly would eventually break-up.  The members would go on to various projects.  Gus, Dru and my former roommate Steve Yuletide would go on to form the Encyclopedia of American Traitors with a couple other guys.  Gus would switch to drums and Dru to guitar.  Fronted by Yuletide’s maniacal screams and much more overtly political lyrics, Encyclopedia would be a quite different beast than Spirit Assembly.

Gus would then move on to Chicago where we would lose touch for awhile.  I would see that he was in the band New Granada and pick up that record.  He was on drums again, this time singing as well.

In 2004, while my band He Taught Me Lies was on tour with Rick Gribenas and Movement Three, we played Boston and got to play with Gus’ new band Tiny Hawks.  Tiny Hawks was just a 2-piece (guitar and drums) with another guy named Art on guitar and Gus on drums; they shared vocal duties.  Tiny Hawks reminded me a lot of Spirit Assembly, if the tempo on the songs was cranked up a few notches.  A vocal delivery and lyric style that were a bit more mid-90’s.  Tiny Hawks would play Roboto in 2007 and my other band Sleep Little One Sleep would get to play with them, which was kinda great/weird since SLOS were kinda/totally a Tiny Hawks rip-off band.  Tiny Hawks put out a 12″ EP and an LP, both of which are amazing and worth getting if you stumble upon them.

As you can imagine, since the guitar and drumming personnel remain the same, the Arcing record is very similar to Tiny Hawks.  There is, however, something about this record that just comes off a bit more reserved.  It’s an enjoyable record and the songs are individually great, but ultimately I just never got into this record the same way that I got into the Tiny Hawks’ records. As I said before, it is a record I love, but even as I listen to it right now, I can’t figure out why it hasn’t ingrained itself into my brain the way the Tiny Hawks’ records were.  But I guess that’s just it – sometimes records speak to you in different ways.  It doesn’t always have to do with the quality of the recording or the technical proficiency of the songs – it’s a relationship, between you and the songs.

So this post is a little thank you to Gus Martin for continuing to be involved in great music that I enjoy for 2+ decades now.

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