Based on their likable debut, Take Comfort in Strangers (released via Astro Magnetics, the label owned by Thursday's Geoff Rickly), Long Beach, CA's the Valley Arena create powerful, emotive music without the chaos that many post-punk troupes (including Rickly's outfit) possess. That's not to say the Valley Arena don't play loud or hard -- they do -- but the emphasis is on being inventive and even artful, while prioritizing melody. Guitarist Chris Stevens steers the quartet with a fluid style, as evidenced by the urgent "Paint It Red," which also counts the strengths of singer Warren Woodward. Balancing musical panic attacks like "Piano Wire" with expressive rants such as "The Plastic Knife You Swing" and "To the Bitter Amputees," the Valley Arena are anything but the same old same old. Fans of early Fugazi and Drive Like Jehu will be drawn to Take Comfort in Strangers.
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AllMusic Review by John D. Luerssen