My first exposure to Joseph Arthur was his not-terribly-good â€œNuclear Daydreamâ€ 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, â€œCould We Survive,â€ 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 â€œRages of Babylon,â€ a solder who is sent â€œto protect the land of the freeâ€ asks â€œwill my family remember me?â€ The next song, â€œMorning Cup,â€ is more optimistic, but it maintains the anti-war theme (â€œGive up your soldiers/the battle has been wonâ€). 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 itâ€™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, â€œCrazy Rain,â€ has a harder edge to it, mostly, although it is also not without its quieter moments. It begins with â€œKillerâ€™s Knife,â€ 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 (â€œNothinâ€™ 2 Hideâ€) featuring Greg Dulli. This EP is more fun than the first, but less lyrically adventurousâ€”listen to it while youâ€™re getting drunk, then put on â€œCould We Surviveâ€ while youâ€™re coming down.
Bonus: Joseph does Biggie’s 10 Crack Commandments.