BRONSON ARM

From Kalamazoo, Michigan, Bronson Arm is the partnership of Blake Bickel and Garrett Yates. Using only voice, drums, and baritone guitar, the pair hammers out a glorious, deconstructed racket that penetrates deep. Says Bickel: "I've always liked the limitations and being forced to fill a space with only two instruments. I feel there is an immediacy and focus that can be unique to two-piece bands."

Together, Bickel and Yates lock into machine-like unison. The attack is percussive and clean, the impact is instant. As Bickel puts it, "When there are drums and only one other instrument, the kick and snare hit hard!" Crystal clear and thunderous, unburdened by any extra layers of sound, Bronson Arm's stripped-down sound goes for the throat. And like a third, unnamed band member, the space within the duo's sparse arrangements has a power all its own.

Yet, beyond the bare-bones battery, there is something else. The round, smooth tones of Bickel's baritone guitar create an effect that is more ominous than fiery. The inherent warmth and haunting presence of the instrument, paired with Yates' almighty smashing, soothes the ear while simultaneously stabbing it. "The baritone guitar felt like an opportunity to explore an instrument I was less comfortable with," states Bickel. "And to open new sonic territories in my brain, while covering as wide a frequency spectrum as possible."

With this unique sound dialed in, the duo proceeds to make songs that are startlingly anthemic. Bronson Arm rocks with the type of edge-of-seat tension and cathartic hooks that those raised on steady diets of Fugazi, Sonic Youth, and The Jesus Lizard will delight in. Taking the less-is-more ethos to new heights, Bronson Arm have succeeded not only in crafting their own sonic niche but in making songs that will stir souls.

Bickel describes the inspiration behind standout track, "One with the Floor": "When I started writing this song I kept on envisioning fog rolling over a dark wooded hill. I wanted to create a sound… a song that evoked a sense of sheer terror and impending doom that slowly crept in and consumed you. I wanted to create a feeling of, 'Oh, fuck. That thing. That thing I dread is starting again. Here it comes.'"

Bronson Arm was mixed by Robert Cheek (Deftones, Band of Horses, Tera Melos) and mastered by Bronson Arm's own Blake Bickel. The album's first five tracks were originally released in 2021 as the Tosser EP; the remaining tracks are brand new and unreleased. 

Though Bronson Arm's minimalist, baritone-driven noise-punk marks the band as an outlier, and its home base of Kalamazoo sets it off the beaten path, Bickel and Yates are, in fact, entrenched in the underground and actively contributing to it. As a mastering engineer, Bickel has put his stamp on recordings by the likes of Soft Kill and Drab Majesty. As the founder of Kalamazoo's DIY venue The Run Off, Yates has hosted recent shows by Child Bite, Kal Marks, and Frail Body. As a band, the two have wowed crowds across the Midwest, including at 2022's Caterwaul Festival, the definitive annual "noisy rock" festival co-founded by Learning Curve Records boss Rainer Fronz. 

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