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Vs. The Greatest of All Time


Archers of Loaf



Release Date:


Reviewed by:
  PostLibyan and Tracers  
  In preparation for the upcoming Archers Of Loaf reunion tour (now up to three shows in Atlanta!), i am having my Minions review the entire catalog of this act. Here we cover their second release, an EP.  

A year after releasing their debut, Icky Mettle, the Archers came back with a five song EP. I remember thinking it was different than the debut, and had some good songs on it. Of course, this EP got eclipsed by their second album which came out a mere six months later, so again this is a release that i have not listened to in a long time. How will it hold up to the passing of time?

The first song is Audiowhore, a brief wandering noise (some kind of samples of, i think, tape decks, but that in the post MP3 player era sounds like MP3 player hard drive errors) and then suddenly Bachman starts screaming as the band tear into a discordant guitar growl. It moves along furiously, then fades back out with the same samples as in the intro.

Lowest Part Is Free! starts with an intro that sounds like The Archers had been listening to a lot of Today's Active Lifestyles by fellow North Carolinians Polvo. But then vocalist Eric Bachman comes in, and the drumming swells. There are some odd guitar parts throughout this song which do remind me of Polvo. But i am most curious about the drumming. Did drummer Mark Price just get a bunch of new cymbals and wanted to break them in on this tune? This is more cymbal heavy than anything else in the Archers catalog. Weird.

  Lowest Part is Free! is one of the songs I remember fondly from the Archers' live shows. Therefore, it is a bit of a stunner to hear the recorded version again. In this recording, despite the layers of sound, the mix is crispier than the muddy sounds heard back on Icky Mettle. however, it's not as razor sharp as the mix yet to be heard on Vee Vee. Likewise, like many of my favorites, this tune features the layered alternating vocals, where Eric Bachmann sings one melody and the rest of the band sings a complimentary relevant one. It's a bouncy energetic tune, which foreshadows so much of the band's later work.  

The cymbals fade out and the song sort of flows into Freezing Point with a slight re-start of the drum beat and the guitars shifting, slowing down, and becoming a little more chiming a little less growling. This is a great pop tune. Bachman's voice sounds young here, i guess because he is singing, not growling.

  Like PosLlibyan mentions, Freezing Point is a bit slower and if anything more melodic than what has come before. One thing I particularly like about this tune is the way basswork of Matt Gentling dominates the accompaniment. It's deep and thudding and utterly necessary in order for the sound to be rounded out.  

After the pop, Archers get a little weird, starting Revenge with two minutes of distorted guitar solo, like someone was trying to play a flamenco piece on an electric guitar with the treble all the way up and an overdrive pedal on. Then the rest of the band comes in, and this plays like a minimal off-shoot of Plumbline, or, rather, that song re-imagined as a Minutemen song. That guitar solo is a little grating and meandering, but when it gets going this is a fun little tune.

  I always forget about this tune, mainly because the guitar solo mentally leads me astray. Yet, when the band finally comes together as whole, Revenge becomes a solid little tune. However, the production on this throws me off, mainly because it sounds like everyone in the band except Bachmann and Price are down the hall in a box. Ah, who knew even one of the greats of Indie rock could fall victim to production issues?  

And finally the EP wraps up with All Hail The Black Market. This, finally, is the first Archers of Loaf song. It is the first song that shows Eric Bachman's songwriting ability, and showcases how each members can go off in their own direction and yet still make the song sound cohesive. Here, they are not a punk band from the mountains who listened to a lot of The Pixies anymore, they are something new. All hail the black market, indeed! The gets a little meandering with a guitar solo worry of Robby Krieger over a drone, but it is a good song nonetheless.

  For me, All Hail the Black Market shows the vision of Archers of Loaf. It harkens forwards to the darkening tides of White Trash Heroes while maintain the melodic crispness of the band as whole.  
  To be honest, when i took this old CD off the shelf, dusted it off, and ripped it to MP3 form, i only remembered the first and last songs. The others, i thought, were filler. But when i listened to it again, i found this to be a lost gem. Aside from the few sparse meandering bits in the last two songs, this holds up. Huh.  
Related Links:

Artist: (fan site)
Also on EvilSponge:
   Album: Icky Mettle
   Album: Vee Vee
   Compilation: The Speed of Cattle
   Album: All the Nations Airports
   Album: White Trash Heroes
   Live Album: Seconds before the Accident


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