Release Date: Feb 21, 2012
Record label: Merge
The glut of 90s-minded bands to emerge in the past two years or so has been exhaustedly covered by music sites all over the web (this one included). But critics and commenters alike often fail to note the significant difference between today’s bare-bones indie heroes and their predecessors. Yuck has plenty of distortion, but sounds less messy and more innocent than Dinosaur Jr.
After the release of their classic debut, Icky Mettle, and the excellent follow-up EP, Vs. the Greatest of All Time, it was clear that Archers of Loaf were a band that had hit the ground running and never seemed likely to stop. On Vee Vee, the second full-length offering from the Chapel Hill indie innovators, the band deftly avoids anything even resembling a sophomore slump by returning with a kind of gnarly ferocity, which the quartet uses to great effect as they bang and bash their way through an album of beautifully misshapen and unpolished indie rock.
If you caught me at the right time during the early part of the last decade, you may remember me as The Guy Who Would Argue That Archers of Loaf Were Better Than Pavement. I developed this position at a time when it was useful to a have a Thing and for that Thing to kindle debate. Garden-variety contrarianism? A little, but I was a liberal arts major on a Midwestern state university campus, and for the first time in my life the most cred-heavy rocker in the immediate vicinity.
Greatest of all time. I wouldn’t go that far but it’s certainly up there. There comes a moment in every indie kid’s lifetime when they give up on anything remotely mainstream and engage in a musical journey of listening to bands or singers that are different, possibly started by their cool uncle lending them a Pixies album or a friend tells them about Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds.
Along with Superchunk, Archers Of Loaf are without a doubt one of the best Indie Rock bands you’ve (maybe) never heard of. Existing at a time when Indie Rock actually warranted and pretty much required the capital letters; Archers Of Loaf released their debut album Icky Mettle in 1994, a time when alternative rock was fast becoming big business. As a result, they became a pretty big deal.
This expanded re-issue of the band’s second full-length opens more space in its compressed production. Comparisons to Pavement fade. The Archers’ gnarled guitars atop a thicket of bass and a churn of drums always reminded me of Mission of Burma. Vee Vee signals a shift towards the sonic exactitude and undergrad smarts of the latter band.