Devon roots-punks, Crazy Arm, release a full album of acoustic songs in September. The band began recording back in October 2012. Ten months later (but after only seven full days of recording) the album is finally in the can. Titled 'The Southern Wild', and recorded by James Bragg in various locations, including band members' houses, it proffers eleven slices of country, folk and bluegrass that doffs its cap to English, Irish and American traditions while retaining a rustic Westcountry lilt and a keen anarchist bent; with a respectful nod to the likes of Woven Hand, Murder By Death, Johnny Cash, Phil Ochs, The Handsome Family, Austin Lucas, Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Emmylou Harris and CSN/Y. The band's decision to record a chiefly acoustic record came after the rousing reception they received from acoustic tours and shows over the past two years.
Whether Crazy Arm are setting their sights on frontier melodrama ('Hell To Pay', 'County Jaws'), bluegrass clawhammer stomp ('Don't Be Cruel'), late-'60s vocal harmonies and protest song ('Remembrance'), brooding a cappella ('Oh Death', 'The Valley Of Weeping') or redemptive gothic Americana ('Black Canyon'), there's always that slightly askew homegrown sensibility at the core. It sounds nothing like the guitar-throttling hardcore country rock of their first two albums, 'Born To Ruin' and 'Union City Breath', but there's plenty of common ground if you care to look. Of course, this isn't the first time that a band have highlighted the cultural similarities between punk and folk/country but it may be the first time that a band have done it from such stylistic extremes. 'The Southern Wild' is the sound of a band who have never been content with churning out the same thing twice, who delight in discovering new and old music, and who revel in pursuing their own dogged agenda, wherever it takes them.
But things haven't been running that smoothly for the rock Crazy Arm. In January, bassist Tim Rowing-Parker left to fulfil his own musical destiny with powerpop trio, Woahnows. The band continued to work in the studio and write/demo new songs for their third rock album while looking for a new bass player. Then in May, drummer Simon Marsh quit. Cue uncertainty and a weighty state of limbo. But for Crazy Arm, the show isn't over 'til the fat lad sings. So, after some soul-searching, and with a slew of great new musicians ready to help out (take a bow, new drummer Matt Colwell and bassist Nathan Stevens), the band have re-booted, found their footing and are back in the saddle. Giddy up, indeed.
Crazy Arm embark on a UK tour in September to coincide with the release.
'The Southern Wild' track-listing:
01 Oh Death / Hell To Pay
03 Don't Be Cruel
05 County Jaws
06 The Wildcats Of Denbury
07 Roasting River
08 A Pocketful Of Gold
09 We Don't Go There Any More10 The Valley Of Weeping
11 Black Canyon
Crazy Arm on this record:Darren Johns - vocals, acoustic guitars, banjo, bass, percussion
Vicky Butterfield - vocals, percussion
Jon Dailey - acoustic and electric guitars, harmonium
Tim Rowing-Parker - bass
Simon Marsh - drums
Patrick James Pearson - piano, keyboards, fiddle, vocals
Jon Warren - drums on 'Black Canyon'
James Bragg - percussion, samples on 'The Valley Of Weeping'
Smudge - meows on 'Fossils'
1 Sept – WTFest, Southampton (w/Jim Lockey & The Solemn Sun + Great Cynics + more)
8 Sept – Exeter, Cavern (acoustic trio w/Joe Tilston + PJ Bond + more)
13 Sept – Newton Abbot, Jolly Farmer (full band acoustic w/Crowns)
14 Sept – Southsea Fest, Portsmouth (Xtra Mile Acoustic stage w/Beans On Toast + more)
15 Sept – Wiltshire, Devizes, The Lamb Inn (full band acoustic w/Mick O'Toole)
16 Sept – London, Old Blue Last (full band acoustic w/Emily Barker)
17 Sept – Cambridge, The Corner House (full band acoustic w/Sam Russo + 7 Day Conspiracy)
18 Sept – Leeds, Santiagos (full band acoustic w/Jake & The Jellyfish + Tia-Rhian)
19 Sept – The Lounge Bar, Warrington (full band acoustic w/Roughneck Riot)
21 Sept – Norwich, The Stanley Arms (full band acoustic w/Crowns)
22 Sept – Kingston, Fighting Cocks (full band acoustic w/Smith Street Band + Great Cynics)
27 Sept – Maggie's Cafe, Plymouth (electric w/Bus Station Loonies + Phat Bollard)
27 Sept – White Rabbit, Plymouth (full band acoustic w/Damerels + more)