by Dan Bernal
If you live in Boston, you’ve perhaps been out to, or at least heard of, the North End’s Old Country, Mafia-flavored Italian restaurants. Why so great? Complexity of preparation, ornate presentation, distinct concepts? In fact, the power and preeminence of North End cuisine is the stellar simplicity of style, presentation, and most important of purely superior ingredients. Automatic Arms are not inventing the wheel here; in truth they rarely spin it outside a fairly consistent template which can threaten to stifle the appeal of a growing band. If you’ve zoned out to the Cowboy Junkies or Floyd’s smacked-out stoner ode “Comfortably Numb,” however, you’ll find well-deserved solace in the flow of this solemn, depressive, and wholly well-assembled dish which gracefully infuses the “air” in “despair.” This is weakness painted with strength, loss driven by talent. The simple arrangements and sparing production hinge on warm, full tones, and a purity of focus. The tempo rarely defects, cello rises from the basement like old tears, electronica oddities float in grayed windows on a misty afternoon which promises no respite or abandonment. “It’s your last chance, why don’t you take it?” croons helmsmen Noah Warner. On my second bottle of Rioja by the fire on a gloomy Sunday, you bet your ass I’ll take it. Note the emotive cello explosion crashing the tastefully concise “Reach” to its shore. That’s good art, kids.