"Hyena Arms," the opening track on Peña's latest effort, Best Friends, successfully sets the tone for the entire album, with its loping rhythms and logical but ultimately unpredictable changes. Partly introspective, partly aggressive with a pall of impending menace, the all-instrumental songs found here sparkle with a certain mathiness — a sinuous mathematics often found in jazz — as the outfit fittingly recalls experimental and post-rock acts from San Diego like Pinback and Tristeza. On cuts such as "Segment" and "Slept Inept," Joshua Trinidad of Cougar Legs guests and brings a stirringly lonely element to the proceedings. Even in the midst of its progressive tendencies, Best Friends invokes a sense of time spent reflecting in a warm place while a gentle early winter snow falls outside.
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