A.R.E. Weapons: Free in the Streets

The music of A.R.E. Weapons has been featured on 101 Submissions Chapter and Chapter 2 and on the upcoming 101 Submissions Chapter 3

www.AREWeapons.comThe A.R.E. Weapons have been longtime friends of OntheMat and we’ve been big fans of them since we heard their first demo tracks. Listening to their music has always reminded me of time in New York City; of all the cities we’ve rocked in our travels our time in New York has always been ranked as the craziest. Between the time on the mat to the club kids and nightlife in Manhattan, the A.R.E. Weapons have been the perfect unofficial soundtrack to the adventures of Scotty and Gumby in the Big Apple. Every track makes me think of some definite location, some specific incident, or some particular person from our time there. It’s almost as if the A.R.E. Weapons were making a personal soundtrack for me.

It’s been sometime since our first adventures in NYC and since that time I’ve become a bit more worldly, I’ve made many more cities my own and dare I say it, have gained a certain perspective of maturity. The A.R.E. Weapons have released a new album “Free in the Streets” and it sounds like after touring around the country and being on the road, their music has matured as well. While it is still quintessentially the “New York Urban Sound”, Free in the Streets shows a greater range of influence and could serve as a soundtrack to anywhere. From cruising the streets of Oklahoma City, to prowling the pubs of Brighton,England, to slumming in downtown LA, I could blast the tracks on Free in the Steets and make it my own personal soundtrack again.

What is surprising on Free in the Streets is the new sense of personal vulnerability in the song writing. The A.R.E. Weapons a few years ago were much more about attitude and being in your face and while that still abounds on this album, in the first track These Tears, lead singer Brain declares “I used to think I didn`t need nobody. Let me tell you I was wrong.” And while “Fuck you, Pay me” was one of the sing alongs on the earlier albums, the sing along of Free in the Streets is now “Be Nice”. The swagger is still there, the A.R.E Weapons of yesterday would try to kick your ass with thought of consequence before, today they may be less sure of the outcome, but they are still going to come after you with everything they have. “Who Rules the Wasteland” may be their most aggressive song to date, and even here there is the combination of vulnerability and confidence that permeates throughout the album. Brand New Walking Shoes is probably the most “New York” tracks on the album. The first single on the album “Weakest Ones” may the most ironic track on the whole album, it combines a disco beat, wailing guitars, whistles, and a keyboard intro that reminds me of the Organ music from the movie “Strange Brew”.

The biggest change to the A.R.E. Weapons is the addition of drummer Erik Ralph (previous recordings always used a drum machine). His banging away lends a sense of urgency to the tracks on Free In the Streets and pushes the band’s sound more to the clash end of the spectrum of the electro-clash label. The music is good for BOTH dancing and fist pumping.

Free in the Streets gets a Thumb`s Up, a bunch of stars, whatever. If you want to “get” the OTM style and attitude, a good choice is to start with the A.R.E. Weapons. Go out and buy this album, and if the A.R.E. Weapons come play in your town, there`s a good chance you`ll see the OTM crew on the side stage there.


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About the author


Gumby is the co-founder of OntheMat.com back in 1997 with Scotty Nelson.