New Arbor Labor Union, For Instants

Arbor Labor Union coughed up a couple of (quite good) digital releases in the interim since their Sub Pop stab I Hear You sorta sputtered out of the gate and inexplicably caught few ears in the spring of 2016. Now back on Alyssa DeHayes’ Arrowhawk Records, which introduced us to them back when they were called Pinecones, they return with a proper follow-up album on Feb. 7.

If anything, the ten songs on New Petal Instants (available on vinyl, CD and digital) make a case that Sub Pop be damned – the perfect label home for this band is SST in its mid ’80s heyday. But since that’s not gonna transpire, Arbor Labor Union sorta occupy their own particular wilderness. And it’s one that certainly merits exploration.

The quartet’s chip-choppy, intricate, repetitious and sometimes jazz-like guitar interplay reinforces the notion that the band’s own self-descriptor – “CCR meets The Minutemen” – isn’t that far off the mark, although I’d still opt for the more commonly cited Meat Puppets as their true SST musical forebears… but then, The Minutemen covered the Puppets and Creedence, so it’s all sprouting from a common vine. Over it all, Bo Orr’s freewheeling pontifications, as if he’s possessed by the spirit of a Colorado Springs hemp farmer abducted by a UFO, lead us through the corn maze like some hazy piper.

Photo by Frogtooth.