Loafing Around with Eric Bachmann
... Not really
By Jessica Cassyle Carr
It's a cruel fact of life that one day, voluntarily or involuntarily, gracefully or pathetically, we all have to grow up. First, it's bidding adieu to the baby bottle and moving on to a big boy cup. Next, it's no longer appropriate to stay up all night drinking booze and listening to rock ’n’ roll (or playing Magic, drinking high-caffeine soft drinks and dorking out, as it were) in the grimy dives of your 20-something youth. Behaving the way you did 10 years ago is implausible and would make you subject to daytime talk show-style ridicule.
The ’90s were the indie rock heyday for a chunk of now middle-aged or approaching middle-aged grownups, and for many, Archers of Loaf were the definitive band. (Take the line "She's an indie rocker, and nothing gonna stop her ..." from Icky Mettle's "Plumb Line" as evidence of their indierockocity.) The band's rough, raspy and distorted, melodically experimental yet reasonably listenable sound--which endures today as uncontrived and innovative--came to pass with the band's formation in the early ’90s and with the release of the intrinsically necessary aforementioned album Icky Mettle in 1993. For the next five years the band, from North Carolina, frequented Albuquerque and inspired a generation of casually dressed college kids to get loose at now forgotten Downtown bars.
Archers of Loaf, in the realm of college rock, were damn heavy. That's why it's a little surprising that frontman Eric Bachmann's solo material is so light. Not light in a light rock way, of course; Bachmann's new music has a decided lack of pop, but favors folk, Americana, singer/songwriter categorization. The transition--commenced in 2000 under the solo moniker Crooked Fingers and released under venerable labels such as Merge and, newly, Saddle Creek--is drastic. Even the vocals of Archers of Loaf versus Eric Bachmann are miles apart, but this transition is graceful and with purpose. Bachmann's music, likewise, as demonstrated on his excellent new album To The Races (released in August and written last summer whilst intentionally living in his van), sounds mature, dark, lovely and free of inexperienced insecurities. This is not all-night rock ’n’ roll party material, but Bachmann’s sophisticated arias and subtle shanties provide music for fans and former fans to relive, revisit and relearn with a more mature ear.
Eric Bachmann will play the Pulse Nightclub on Tuesday, Dec. 19, with Devotchka. $8 tickets available at the door, or in advance at Natural Sound and virtuous.com (plus service fees). Doors open at 9 p.m.
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