Friday, November 5, 2010

Review: Archie Powell and the Exports “Skip Work”

Archie Powell and the Exports impressed us in 2009 with his “Loose Change” EP, a terrific little romp through roots rock and pop territory (review here). Archie and the gang are back with a full-length release entitled “Skip Work”, which, despite having four songs cc’ed from “Loose Change”, is markedly more towards the powerpop end of the spectrum.

There is still plenty of that raw, do-it-yourself attitude coming through on “Skip Work”, so longtime fans should not feel alienated. And while the record’s title might indicate that these guys are slackers, one thing that they take very seriously is their music. As rough and boisterous as it sounds, these melodies are very meticulously crafted – to the point where I’d almost think they came out of Squeeze’s songbook. Speaking on the concept of the new record the band states, “The material bears many faces with raucous garage rock, pop sensations and slow burners abound. All of which are held together by a pervasive sense of dark humor and twentysomething restlessness.”

The amusing tale, “Milkman Blues”, starts things off before some grungy guitar driving “Enough About Me” introduces us to the more traditional Archie Powell sound (video below). “Enough About Me” has great sing-a-long quality, with a close second being the gritty pop anthem, “Moving To The City”. “Skip Work” is one of the catchiest tunes against the 9 to 5 world and the midtempo “Follow Through” has an irresistible melody too. But almost as if Powell purposely saved the best for last, “Down and Out” is my favorite in this remarkable batch of songs.

Powell’s vocals are well-suited to this rambunctious pop rock, even reminiscent of Paul Westerberg at times. There is only one minor complaint – the use of distorted vocals! A little on occasion – when well placed – can be effective, but Powell uses it too often and throws in so much distortion that he is virtually incomprehensible. But the band’s sound is consistent from start to finish, making “Skip Work” one of those rare albums you can play straight through without skipping a track.

Check out Archie Powell and the Exports if you like Fountains of Wayne, Weezer, or The Replacements. So call the boss and say you’re sick, take a holiday, and get lost in this record.

iPOD-worthy: 1, 2, 4, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11

Archie Powell and the Exports on MySpace. Official Site.

Check out a video of “Enough About Me”:

Enough About Me - Archie Powell and the Exports from Jon Kline on Vimeo.