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Maximo Park /The Blood Arm
July 3, 2005 - Crocodile Cafe - Seattle, WA
by Dagmar Patterson

Wonderful music has emerged from the UK over the past two years, yet Maximo Park have no need to capitalize on this. They are not derivative. They are fresh and tremendous. A five piece out of the United Kingdomís northern city, Newcastle, Maximo Park stun with vicious and flawless songwriting. The last band member to join was singer and gifted main lyricist, Paul Smith. Itís a heady combination.

Smith possesses one of the very best voices ever recorded, and live he is even better. Dressed dapperly in a gray suit with blue and white striped shirt and red tie, he was an energetic, expressive and accessible performer, conversing easily with the audience and during songs leaping into the air about 5 feet. Thatís no exaggeration. Often complimentarily compared to Pulpís Jarvis Cocker, even this belies the complete package Smith is as writer, singer and showman. Heís an icon in his own right.
Maximo Park's sound recalls sixties pop, largely due to the brilliant keyboard playing of Lukas Wooller. The keyboard soothes itself into every song and is integral to Maximo Parkís gorgeous melodies. Itís fascinating to watch Wooller at work. He concentrates with the most intense expression and then executes choppy and infectious dance moves. Equally important is the rhythm of this band. Archis Tikuís bass skillfully pounds and Tom Englishís drumming drives the songsí frenzied, danceable quality. On guitar is Duncan Lloyd, who layers the songs with angular and beautiful notes.

Their songs are instantly relatable and as on the album,
A Certain Trigger, each melody was superb. Maximo Park readily call themselves pop and itís not a dirty word for them and as with most pop songs they sing about love. Key songs such as the spiteful "Limassol" and anthemic "Graffiti" shine. "Kiss You Better" allows Smith poignancy and perfection.

They named themselves after Maximo Gomez Park in Miami, Florida, which is itself named after the Cuban revolutionary M∑ximo GŘmez B∑ez, and yet claim, on their site, ďThe relevance of this fact remains, however, unclear.Ē Maximo Park have a vigorous, wide-ranging appeal. They had at least one guy in the audience on the back of another and hitting the lanterns on the ceiling. They had me hopping. They are momentous.

Opening was the Blood Arm, a Los Angeles band with a take-no-prisoners approach to performing. Singer Nathaniel Fregosoís delivery is almost that of a drunken rant, but with clever lyrics and a sense of urgency buoyed by the powerful musicianship of his band mates. Drummer Zachary Amos is a force to be reckoned with--he never let up on the rapid succession drum beats no matter how many times Fregoso jumped onto the drum kit and taunted him. Zebastian Carlisleís guitar work skips along magically, and the classically trained pianist Dyan Valdes assaults on keyboards with lilting and dipping tones. Each instrument is complex in this band and the guitar and keyboard take turns in the role of the bass guitar. The band is a mighty foursome.

Fregosoís performance took him all over the venue, from writhing on the floor to climbing the walls. He involved everyone in the audience and was frighteningly charming. He growled, cajoled and capered.

The Blood Armís demo CD,
Bomb Romantics, is in limited release at the moment. Itís a marvelous and wildly impressive debut. They opened with "Do I Have Your Attention?" a captivating piece and perhaps even stronger was "Say Yes," which has charted in the United Kingdom. Itís gorgeous live. It was sexily frantic when they sang "Want x 3," where Fregoso begs "Please donít let me go/back to the dance floor and I want it all of the time/I donít know why." The guitar stomped and everything lurched beautifully out of control.