Arbor Labor Union

I Hear You

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Love hippies, but hate guitar solos? Well, have we found the band for you! Arbor Labor Union are a minimalist hard rock band from Georgia whose resin-friendly sound and "Wow, man"-centric lyrics give them the outward appearance of a stoner band (the sort whose take on metal is only so heavy). But while the band's guitar attack is ongoing and unrelenting, Arbor Labor Union don't seem especially interested in stretching out while they jam; guitarists Bo Orr and Brian Adams show precious little interest in reeling off showy guitar figures, instead opting to find the riffs and let them repeat themselves until the song finally resolves itself. This approach works up to a point on I Hear You, the group's debut album (though the band previously recorded under the name the Pinecones). The guitars chug with addled but genuine enthusiasm, bassist Ryan Evers and drummer Ben Salie lay out a solid hard rock groove as a musical foundation, and Orr's vocals suggest he almost means something when he's singing, though just what that might be is a little elusive. Put it all together, and I Hear You is an easygoing exercise in jammy hard rock with a folky undertow that keeps things lean and muscular throughout. However, the band's greatest strength is also its greatest weakness. Arbor Labor Union's unwillingness to lay a lot of gingerbread over their songs results in most of them sounding very much the same, and by the time I Hear You has ambled to its conclusion, this music has grown awfully tired. One hears the core of a great band on I Hear You, but if Arbor Labor Union want to make a great record, they're going to have to find a way to make these songs go somewhere rather than letting them wander in a circle, though they at least sound like they're having a good time staying in place.

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