Archers of Loaf | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Archers of Loaf

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With their new album Vee Vee (reviewed this week in section one), Chapel Hill's Archers of Loaf should put to rest the comparisons to Superchunk and Pavement that have plagued them since their first single three years ago. It's true that the band's rock-out enthusiasm mirrors Superchunk's, just as their careening detuned guitars recall Pavement, but Archers of Loaf have set their sights higher without succumbing to their own sense of importance. On Icky Mettle, their exuberant 1993 debut album, the band shed their melodic-punk skin, and it's hard to figure out just where they've been headed since. Eric Bachmann's vocals range from a dying-frog croak to tuneful rasped passion, but even his most feeble incantations could never be confused with slacker boredom. Though a product of and willing participant in the indie-rock explosion, he's obviously weary of the stylistic stagnation at once demanded and derided by hard-core fans of the seven-inch single. The largely self-referential "Greatest of All Time" knowingly and cleverly asserts "the underground is overcrowded" but also suggests throwing a washed-up singer--read: a betrayer of indie rock--in the river. Wanting their cake and eating it too, indie-rock purists can be an impossible lot, and Bachmann's struggling to placate them without surrender. The new album abounds with discombobulated hooks set amid a noisy, jumbled guitar architecture: rather than expressing a typically indie shyness about pop, Archers of Loaf, whose live gigs reel with irony-free energy, have elevated it to an art form. Stay tuned. Friday, 11:30 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 549-0203.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Photo/Michael Lavine.

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