Vocals / Guitar: Darren Johns
Guitar: John Dailey
Bass / Vocals: Tim Rowing
Drums: Simon Marsh
Ask anyone and they’ll tell you that Plymouth hard-twang roots-punks, Crazy Arm’s debut album has been a long time coming. Not through want of trying, of course. In late-2006 the band headed into a local studio to bang an album into shape. A year later, and with an arsenal of new songs, they decided to scrap the recordings and start again. Another year later, and with another clutch of new songs, they reluctantly called a halt to proceedings and started afresh, for the third time, with Peter Miles (Sonic Boom Six, The King Blues, Failsafe) at the controls. The fact that his newly assembled studio was only 20 miles up the road, in the middle of a beautiful forest that backed onto Dartmoor, sweetened the deal somewhat.
The result is ‘Born To Ruin’. A debut album that sounds nothing like it would have done three years ago when the band were still in the embryonic stages, and perhaps nothing like it would have done if it hadn’t been recorded in such idyllic surroundings, where pheasants strolled around the grounds and vegan curries were mandatory. Not easy to categorise, and all the better for it, ‘Born To Ruin’ is an aural accumulation of years and years of influence and inspiration: rooted in hardcore/punk, ‘60s protest folk and timeless rock’n’roll. Of course, you may not actually hear the likes of Joni Mitchell, Led Zeppelin, Hűsker Dű, Crass or Gene Vincent but it’s all in there somewhere, adding weight and depth to songs that are as different from each other as they are from any other self-proclaimed punk band you care to mention.
But make no mistake. This is still a punk rock record. In the same way that ‘London Calling’ by The Clash, ‘The Argument’ by Fugazi and ‘Under The Fog’ by The King Blues are punk rock records. They don’t scream their ideas at you, they’re steeped in inventive melodies, and they spill over into many other styles but they are records that stand out as punk classics because of, not in spite of, their willingness to side-step punk stereotypes. For instance, ‘Blind Summit’ and ‘Broken By The Wheel’ may be dynamic country-punk anthems – all slide guitars and self-confession, but ‘Christ In Concrete’ and ‘Asphalt’ harness the dark brooding tones of 16 Horsepower. ‘Reassure Me’ may pack a melodic hardcore punch, but ‘International Front’ – a slight upon imperialist wars – and ‘Henry Fabian Flynn’ pay tribute to the protest song of Dick Gaughan, Pete Seeger, Phil Ochs, et al. Elsewhere, live favourites like the galloping ‘Still To Keep’ call to mind the sub-pop sensibilities of Ted Leo or The Replacements, while the title track, and album centre-piece, is an epic celebration of history’s conscientious trouble-makers that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on ‘Physical Graffiti’. All told, ‘Born To Ruin’ is an embarrassment of riches full of stories told from a grass-roots perspective. And for a debut album, it’s something of a true revelation.
Members are all vegetarian/vegan, atheist, internationalist and support human and animal rights struggles worldwide.
“Here we have a new band that sounds like a grizzled, road-hardy bunch of musicians singing for their supper, such is the inherent power and dirty glory of their songwriting. They should be standing on some huge stages sooner rather than later.” punktastic.com
“Powerful, progressive, political and inspirational. An immense, energy-fuelled, life-affirming statement of intent yet fragile, honest and heartfelt at the same time.” The Fly
“Crazy Arm bring hooks and edgy guitars aplenty on ‘Cross Country’… I dripped drool all over the keyboard just thinking about a proper full-length.” absolutepunk.net
“The live energy they muster is immense. Straddling the margins between a punky militancy and folk fragility, they can spit out a tight, snarling, ballsy anthem and break your heart at the same time. Indeed, out of the strong came forth sweetness.” 247