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Arts & Culture

First Listen: Saintseneca, 'Dark Arc'

Saintseneca's new album, <em>Dark Arc</em>, comes out April 1.
Saintseneca's new album, <em>Dark Arc</em>, comes out April 1.

Banjo, baglama, bulbul, balalaika, bowed banjo, baritone ukulele, banjo, bass, bouzouki... Saintseneca might pick up any of these instruments at any given moment, and those are just the ones that start with the letter B. The band has its origins and heart in a small Appalachian town in Ohio, as well as a passion for sounds and textures with acoustic instruments at their core. Saintseneca's members eventually settled in Columbus, and they like their acoustic music a bit punkish, with stomping feet as a heartbeat to accompany mind-altering words and music.

But where a lot of foot-stomping acoustic bands sing about love and home and other simple fare, Zac Little writes songs that are hard to pin down, meanings that shift from listen to listen, and choruses that aren't easy to remember but rewarding when you do. Here's one of the catchiest ones on Dark Arc:

If only the good ones die young

I pray your corruption come

swift like a thief in the night

right I pluck my right eye right out

It's no "I Will Wait," and that's my point. No disrespect to Mumford and Sons, but there's a tendency to lump seemingly similar things into the same box — and with all the hair and banjos, it might be tempting to do that to Saintseneca. Don't. My first taste of Dark Arc was the song "Takmit," with this verse:

Lust isn't blind, though

It's just a simple kind of

supple seeing eye dog

running into new walls

"Takmit" is the kind of song you'd have loved to hear from Violent Femmes in the early '80s. Which is to say that Saintseneca has its own way of making contagious tunes — and its own way of making the complicated feel simple.

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