Monday, March 5, 2007

Archers of Loaf - White Trash Heroes

I only discovered how great these guys really were this year. Though I was aware of happenings in the music world in 1998, I completely missed their final album, the criminally underrated White Trash Heroes. There is something about the songs on this album that sound remarkable modern, at least to these ears. The opener, "Fashion Bleeds", sports the kind of twitchy guitar riff and propulsive drumming that is the foundation for many current, capital "I" Indie rock bands. Of course, Eric Bachman's gruff vocal delivery, full of honest-to-goodness emotion, does sound a bit dated. I hear a resemblance in timbre to Soul Coughing frontman, Mike Doughty. Particularly on album closer/stunner, "White Trash Heroes". The bouncy, echoing bassline, slow-building guitar tones, keyboard washes, and slow-mo sing-a-long chorus carry this song, and this band, into the annals of Indie Rock stardom. Reviewby Peter J. D'Angelo

The final studio record from the Archers of Loaf is a far cry from their early days of fast, dirty, and unrelenting indie rock anthems, but it is also a phenomenally progressive album for the band as well as a fitting swansong. The opening, "Fashion Bleeds," is the closest the band comes to its days of yore, with a chugging drumbeat and vocalist Eric Bachman's strained vocals leading the way. The presence of a keyboard that soon starts to drift in sets the tone for the rest of the record, a dark and moody venture with some unexpected styles emanating from the group. They still get raucous and loud on occasion, but sometimes they mask it under a wave of distorted sounds or in the guise of a slowed-down dirge. The closing title track is also of note, in that its sinister keyboard and drum machine sounds, along with Bachmann's oddly throaty and melodic vocals, are exactly what the singer went on to do with his next group, Crooked Fingers. In fact, White Trash Heroes sounds more like a mix of the two groups than an actual Archers record, a fact that anyone familiar with the latter group will certainly realize to be a good thing. This is certainly not the simple and sloppy indie rock outfit that churned out short poppy hits in the mid-'90s, but the band clearly developed into something equally astounding and, with a few listens, the emotion and craftsmanship of these songs prove to be a truly impressive feat.


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