Arlo – Up High In the Night

What I Think of When I Think of This Artist

This is the first band in my collection (if we are going alphabetically, and we are) that I have seen live. I am pretty sure they were on a triple bill at the Abbey Pub with the Waxwings and maybe the Wedding Present? I don’t know much about them. They were one of those early 2000s bands that came and went, never making much of an impression – not even on the few of us who cared enough to buy an album and trek to the Abbey Pub. That said, you shouldn’t pity them – they made two albums on Sub Pop and opened for Wilco and the Foo Fighters. They weren’t bad; they just never made it. Arlo had its origins in Texas (before moving to California) and is essentially two guys (Nate Greely and Sean Spillane) who share vocal, guitar, and songwriting duties. One of them now does mostly film and tv scores; the other guy, I don’t know.

What I Think of This Album

This is essentially power-pop through an indie filter, with a decidedly California feel. The songs are catchy, the harmonies are pretty good, and the guitars are appropriately loud. The lyrics tend to jokiness sometimes, which can be annoying – it sounds like the band is hedging its bets. But there are some really fun songs here, with sufficient variety in the guitar sound and rhythms to keep things interesting. “Nerf Bear Bonanza” has a winning, shaggy exuberance (though I have to force myself to overlook the use of the word “hoochies”); the “Lucy, Lucy, light me on fire” refrain really gets me, for some reason. “Forgotten” is a punchy, driving number, and “Sittin’ on the Aces” adds a hint of welcome dissonance. “Lucid” is a foreboding tune with a bit of swoon to its vocal melody. “Shutterbug” approaches cleverness and the swooping “ooh ooh ooh oohs” riding machine gun snare drum fills may be the best thing on here. “Loosen Up” is impossible not to sing along to. Points deducted for pronouncing “Elena” as “Ah-LEE-nah.”

The Best Thing About This Album

“Shutterbug” is a snapshot of greatness.

Release Date

January, 2001

The Cover Art

Meh. It’s not bad but it’s not good, either. The birds are nice, I guess. But way too generic and bland.

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