Citizen Arms—aka Jeremy Rouse—combines blue collar, Springsteen-styled anthems with stripped down Irish ditties on his eponymous EP.
“Flag of the Bastard Sons” is something like Flogging Molly meets Iron & Wine—softly haunting and heartbreaking, but with the burning fuel of a defiant punk rocker. Rouse’s vocals are rich and gravelly, illumed by lonesome minor chords. In “Siouxland,” he opens with brightly sustained strumming, then delves into a story about lost land: “Where oldengrounds turn to battlegrounds, press your ear to the wall of sound,” he sings. “And give back what’s been given…take back what’s been taken.” It ends on a sort of chilling fadeout of American Indians wailing and drumming.
In general, Rouse rides a well-drawn line between dramatic imagery and subtle storytelling. “The Hangman’s Valley” may have more cliché tendencies clinging to images of dust and blood in order to evoke emotions, but a song like “Renegade Sea” feels authentically roused. The spastic strumming and restless harmonica emulate rollicking waves, and when he sings, “Like a star of a renegade sea, some sail away with no direction home…” it feels like an old sea shanty, conjured for the injuries of a new, tumultuous era. (Erika Fredrickson)
Citizen Arms plays the Badlander Saturday, Oct. 4, at 10 PM with The Turnoffs and Bridgebuilder. $5.
A low-cost health clinic has long helped migrant workers who arrive every summer to pick Flathead cherries, but shifts in the workforce have caused the clinic—and the local cherry industry overall—to adjust