Archers of Loaf | Vee Vee [Deluxe Remaster]

Merge
By DAN WEISS  |  February 21, 2012
4.0 4.0 Stars

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In all of indie rock there's no classic lyric more apt than Archers of Loaf's "Greatest of All Time": "The underground is overcrowded." If Pavement were its Beatles, then this Chapel Hill quartet were indie's Rolling Stones, the meatier, more full-bodied counterpart you secretly liked better. Reissued last year, the debut Icky Mettle had their most celebrated pop songs ("Web in Front," "Wrong," "Plumb Line") but the follow-up Vee Vee was just as great, and thicker. The tunes are noisier and harder-rocking with ever-present melodies buried in Bob Weston's Steve Albini–toughened mix (listen for the needlepoint guitar hook under the chorus of "Harnessed in Slums"). By 1995, Eric Bachmann's hoarse voice was appealingly hideous, in the tradition of Tom Waits (a major influence). The band also spaced out a bit: the album's opening and closing tracks spotlighted wordless harmonies— in the latter case, whistled. If you peel back the clashing dissonance, you'll find that "Underdogs of Nipomo," "Fabricoh," and "Nevermind the Enemy" are some of the densest, thorniest rock (indie or otherwise) ever made. The bonus disc's four-track demos help you appreciate the incomprehensible "Nostalgia" layer by layer while restoring great B-sides ("Telepathic Traffic," "Smoking Pot in the Hot City"). What's more, there's an unreleased take on — holy shit — John Coltrane's "Equinox."

ARCHERS OF LOAF | Middle East downstairs, 472 Mass Ave, Cambridge| April 27 + 28 @ 8 pm | 18+ | $25 | 617.864.3278

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