In recent years, the western Wisconsin city of Eau Claire has crept into the music world’s collective consciousness one hauntingly beautiful cabin-crafted song at a time. As Justin Vernon brings music fans to the area to enjoy his music festival and, soon, to stay in his boutique hotel, Arms Aloft have also been bolstering Eau Claire’s reputation in the eyes and ears of an entirely different audience. For close to a decade, the long-tenured punk quartet and self-proclaimed “Sawdust City Pessimists” have been playing throughout Wisconsin, touring the country avidly, accruing an impressive list of opening credits, and sounding better and better with each new release.

Arms Aloft’s latest batch of songs, What A Time To Be Barely Alive, caught the attention of prominent punk imprint Red Scare Industries, which has records from fellow Badger State acts Direct Hit! and Masked Intruder in its catalog. The Eau Claire outfit’s latest (due out September 9) is a potent 12-pack of socially-aimed rally cries that tote an overriding sense of cynicism, as indicated by the album’s name.

Singer Seth Gile explained the name of the record (and title track, which we’re exclusively streaming below) to Milwaukee Record ahead of What A Time To Be Barely Alive‘s release.

“Much to the chagrin of our friends at home, every time we go on tour for more than a day or two, we end up coming home, speaking almost exclusively in weird idiot idioms for like six months. One of the best we ever spit out was, ‘What a time to be barely alive.’ At this point, I don’t even remember who said it, but it’s one of those ones that just sticks with your group of friends and before you know it, every time you cheers a shot of whiskey or watch news about a riot somewhere or whatever else, you find yourself saying it even just to yourself. And apparently not long after that, you’re getting asked about it by websites and shit.”

Arms Aloft will release What A Time To Be Barely Alive via Red Scare (CD) and Gilead Media (vinyl) on September 9. The band will play a September 10 release show at House Of Rock in Eau Claire before starting its US and Canadian tour with The Falcon at The Frequency in Madison on September 15 (with comedian Kyle Kinane joining the tour in November). Listen to the album’s title track below.

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Co-Founder and Editor

Before co-founding Milwaukee Record, Tyler Maas wrote for virtually every Milwaukee publication (except Wassup! Magazine). He lives in Bay View and enjoys both stuff and things.