Formerly known as Pinecones, Atlanta/Athens rockers Arbor Labor Union first sprung onto the national radar when they announced they had signed with legendary Pacific Northwest label Sub Pop late last year. For fans of the group is was more validation than surprise, and the band heads into 2016 with considerable hype, while also carrying the heavy weight of high expectations.
Yesterday, the group unveiled their first single, “Radiant Mountain Road,” as well as details of their Sub Pop debut, a nine-track LP to be called I Hear You. First and foremost, the track squashes any fears of a letdown or shift in aesthetics from the band. It’s a tightly coiled burner that chugs along with ample brawn before giving way to Bo Orr’s lysergic vocals. Beneath the volcanic riffage and the track’s tension-inducing clamor and stomp, there’s some latent pop tendencies that help elevate the music — both sonically and conceptually.
Meanwhile, for Sup Pop it’s return to their Mudhoney and early Nirvana roots when the label was helping to ignite a worldwide music revolution that would usher in the alternative heydays of the early ’90s. “Radiant Mountain Road” doesn’t carry with it that earth-shattering sense of transformation and upheaval, but neither does it feel comfortably familiar. As a first effort it’s more a promise than a pronouncement, but that’s somewhat to be expected. The high expectations remain. Still, if anything, this single shows Arbor Labor Union has the talent and vision to meet them. Listen below.
I Hear You is out May 13.