Hailing from the fine state of Virginia (specifically Richmond), vocalist James Menefee (formerly of River City High and Highley) formed rock’n’roll laced punk rock outfit Long Arms, who have just released their album Young Life via Dead Serious Recordings. The album is about keeping your values of friendship and rebellion in times of fear and depression.
Starting with the title track “Young Life” the punk rock influences of bands like Social Distortion and Gaslight Anthem become apparent, and while it is poppy, that element doesn’t sound forced. Instead, the track just sounds fun and almost dance-worthy. Next up is “Quentin” but the song is not about Tarantino. It could, however, be used in a film’s soundtrack. It has that upbeat element perfectly suited to a montage in a teen movie. Remember teen movies? Pepperidge Farm remembers.
“Goodnight, Old Ghost” has a similar sound, combining pop-punk with classic rock’n’roll which you’d think wouldn’t work, but it does. “Is This Heaven” is catchy as hell and I ended up actually listening to this song more times than I care to admit before moving on. “Run” has some incredible riffs from James Menefee and Phil Heesen III, as well as an infectious chorus. It would probably do incredibly well on terrestrial radio. I don’t know how singles are chosen (remind me to ask somebody sometime, I keep meaning to but forgetting) but if I were in charge of that, this one would be it.
“Tired Old Town” has a good, steady beat to it and the harmonies in the chorus are on point. “Past Due” has some great melodies and the drumming from Greg Butler really pops here. “Truly” is more melodic than most songs on the album thus far, and has more of a pop vibe than anything else, but it still manages to sound like pop rock rather than bubblegum pop.
I love the riffs and tempo on “Inside Out”. It has an uplifting vibe to it with a message that essentially amounts to “positive thinking and positive action yield positive results”. “Whirlywood” is not only a fun word to say, but it’s also the title of the next track. Just as catchy as all the others, this one has a small amount of a surf rock vibe to it. These are songs designed to get you up and moving. Almost by contrast, “Nova” is a bit slower. It’s more of a chill, relaxing tune, but it’s not so slow as to be boring. The tempo picks up towards the end of the song to match the rest of the album. Finally, “Party Girl” closes out the album with a high-speed pop rock track that is sure to get stuck in your head.
Sure, Young Life is poppy and incredibly Radio Disney friendly, but that doesn’t necessarily make it bad. I do wish it was more punk than pop, but these musicians have some serious skills. I can honestly see them blowing up on the radio any time now. If you’re into a modern punk sound with fun riffs and catchy vocals, go pick this album up.
Bloodrock Rating: 4 out of 5 axes.
Good Night, Old Ghost
Is This Heaven
Tired Old Town
James Menefee – Guitar and Lead Vocals
Alex Smith – Bass
Phil Heesen III – Guitar and vocals
Greg Butler – Drums
Written by Mitch Ellerbrock for Bloodrock Media on Nov. 5, 2017