THE ARKOFFS – Half Ass
Written by Shelley Peckham
Once upon a time, a really great album’s liner notes read, “This is rock ‘n’ roll recorded poorly, played in a hurry, with sweaty hands and unsure reason. How it sounds, what it says, who played what is irrelevant. It feels right.” If you can’t wrap your ears around a philosophy like that, you probably aren’t going to like the Arkoffs, and it’s your loss.
As far as the sound of their new album is concerned, it’s nothing you haven’t heard before. In fact, you’ve most likely heard Half Ass in some capacity at least a thousand times before, but that’s what makes bands like this great. They know that if the mold fits, there’s no sense in breaking it. In short, the Arkoffs know how to rock.
Half Ass is comprised of thirteen spastic, fast and fun songs (along with a few surprises for the patient types), and the influences are the best of the best. “A Kiss Goodnight” is a faster, more likeable version of “As Tears Go By,” tempered by the sweetness of the Ramones. Bob Koch’s vocals are Richard Hell and Bob Dylan all at once. Andy Thorson’s wild, loose guitar solos might as well be Bob Stinson’s. Bassist John Nichols and drummer Adam Schabow sound like ex-Misfits on “Ya Got Somethin’ Comin’.” Johnny Thunders, Iggy, the Clash and the Damned also make frequent sonic appearances throughout the recording.
The curse shared by many of these songs is that as good as they sound on CD, they’ll never sound quite as good as when you are experiencing them live. That is this album’s one real downfall. When you listen to the album, you know you’re not really getting the full picture. You know that all the elements are there, but it’s almost as if you’re overhearing it by chance though the floor instead of being in the same room with the band. This album has all the potential in the world, but the mix just isn’t as listenable as it should be. Sonically, this recording never surpasses the level of your average demo tape.
I first experienced an Arkoffs show just a few days ago. Seeing them live definitely made their songs grow some legs and dance around a little. They’re able to sound desirably chaotic while still maintaining some semblance of control and professionalism. I’m looking forward to seeing what they put together next and hoping that it will get just a little closer to revealing how talented they really are.