My first exposure to Joseph Arthur was his not-terribly-good “Nuclear Daydream” album, which, I
understand from his true fans, was also not-terribly-representative of his work. Well, if they were talking about the kind of stuff on this pair of EPs (the first two of five promised to be released in oh-eight), then I get it.
The first EP, “Could We Survive,” is singer-songwriter folk-rock of the highest order. As you might guess from its title, the theme of the EP is the end of the world. In “Rages of Babylon,” a solder who is sent “to protect the land of the free” asks “will my family remember me?” The next song, “Morning Cup,” is more optimistic, but it maintains the anti-war theme (“Give up your soldiers/the battle has been won”). Five of the six songs on this EP are great, with the ironic exception of the title track, a quiet duet featuring that gets a little boring (and it’s only a few minutes long to begin with). If you purchase just one anti-war album this year, make it this one.
The second EP, “Crazy Rain,” has a harder edge to it, mostly, although it is also not without its quieter moments. It begins with “Killer’s Knife,” which has a heavy electric riff and fuzzy vocals. The feel of the EP stays like this: Aggressive (even in its slower-paced songs), electro-rock, with a special laid-back menace track (“Nothin’ 2 Hide”) featuring Greg Dulli. This EP is more fun than the first, but less lyrically adventurous—listen to it while you’re getting drunk, then put on “Could We Survive” while you’re coming down.
Rages of Babylon
Bonus: Joseph does Biggie’s 10 Crack Commandments.