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Archers of Loaf - Vee Vee [Deluxe Edition] (Cover Artwork)

Archers of Loaf

Archers of Loaf: Vee Vee [Deluxe Edition]Vee Vee [Deluxe Edition] (2012)
Merge Records

Reviewer Rating: 4
User Rating:


Contributed by: JeloneJelone
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Reading the liner notes to Merge's recent reissue of Archers of Loaf's Vee Vee, one thing becomes clear: AoL was the alternative Kinks. Underappreciated despite their consistently solid songwriting and guitarwork, AoL meant a whole heck of a lot to a select few people, and they all want to remind yo.
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Reading the liner notes to Merge's recent reissue of Archers of Loaf's Vee Vee, one thing becomes clear: AoL was the alternative Kinks. Underappreciated despite their consistently solid songwriting and guitarwork, AoL meant a whole heck of a lot to a select few people, and they all want to remind you how this influential band did not get enough love "back in the day."

When it comes to indie rock, I always feel this twang of guilt when I don't lose my head over a band that people care obsessively about. I'm not saying I don't like the Archers. I do. But the first time I put on Vee Vee (after admittedly enjoying Icky Mettle, a record which some folks claim is inferior to Vee Vee), all I could focus on was what wasn't there. The Promise Ring wrote better hooks. Jawbreaker shouted better lyrics. Fugazi was fuckin' Fugazi. When it comes to '90s indie rock, I skew emo, thanks.

Eventually, I broke through that malaise. And I started to hear Vee Vee for what it was, sans indie cred hype: A pretty good '90s guitar rock record that subverts expectations. Icky Mettle opens with "Web in Front," arguably one of AoL's catchiest songs. Vee Vee, though, opens with the slow, semi-psychedelic "Step into the Light." It's not especially Loafy, as the guitars are dreamy and the vocals are cooed. But 40 seconds in, the six-strings take on a slightly ominous tone that saturates the rest of the track. "Harnessed in Slums" kicks the album of properly, with Eric Bachmann spewing the throaty bile that fans love so much.

"Harnessed in Slums" showcases what made people love this band. The guitars roar almost as loudly as Bachmann. The drums pound out thunder. The remaster job doesn't gloss anything up too much, leaving suitably dry, unfussy production to present the song without comment or enhancement. The record rips through hit after shouldabeen hit, and each one epitomizes indie rock's former grit in all its glory.

Vee Vee is nearly a perfect record. Nearly. Bachmann tends to favor stream of conscious imagery, which means sometimes he pulls stuff out of his ass. Still, his success ratio is pretty good when it comes to firing off angry lines, although that exact percentage is debatable since AoL did not and does not like to publish lyrics. When Bachmann does come through loud and clear, like on "Greatest of All Time," it's not necessarily for the best ("He was out of luck / Because nobody gave a fuck"). Other tracks have little blemishes, whether it be the slightly out of time electrical beeps on "Nevermind the Enemy" or the useless hidden track after "Underachievers March and Fight Song." Otherwise, Vee Vee is quality indie rock.

While the Vee Vee reissue is a great way to introduce the Archers to a new audience, completionists might yet be satisfied by a second disc of rarities like "Smoking Pot in the City" or "Bacteria." The back half of the bonus tracks turn out to just be alternate versions of Vee Vee songs, though, and while they're interesting from an academic perspective, they're by no means essential listening.

Still, though, Vee Vee, and the Archers, holds up quite nicely once divorced from its own legend. It's not as immediately accessible as other '90s alt-rock records, but the Archers aren't the first great band to have that problem. Just look at the Kinks.

 

 
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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
borntaloze (March 27, 2012)

even though it's an ep, i think versus the greatest of all time is their best release. icky mettle being a close second and this being a close third. i wont be upgrading my original 180gm vee vee with this new one tho, doesn't seem like it has enough extra to make it worthwhile.

eatdogs (March 27, 2012)

awesome album. i'm glad this review finally got posted.

paulrulzdood (March 27, 2012)

awesome band, awesome album, and yea, they didn't get their due back in the day. I got into them at a very young age (15) because I would vacation in North Carolina and became friends with a local who turned me on to "icky mettle" and "vs. greatest of all time". I had no idea what indy rock was, i had no idea what a trendy hipster was or anything. I was 15. I read comic books and listened to grunge. I thought AoL was a grunge band.

With this completely unbiased and unjaded view of them, they would become my favorite band. I had never heard of Promise Ring or Fugazi or Pavement. I knew Weezer and Soundgarden and Green Day. I didn't know about pitchforkmedia.com or the internet. Listen to them this way as well if you can. it's very rewarding.

These guys, I knew they were different and i knew I loved their "'unique style of grunge". it was the only box i could try to put them in and I knew it didn't quite fit.

I suggest listening to them this way if you can. Ignore anything you know about comparisons or the scene or any of the other stuff indy-rock fans use to prevent themselves from falling in love with a fun record that may fit into their box.

I think icky mettle is slightly more enjoyable than this album, but this is their 2nd best.

MN_DrNick (March 27, 2012)

Vee Vee is fantastic. Archers of Loaf are fantastic.

Bastard_squad (March 27, 2012)

I dislike the new artwork but it's nice to have a new copy of it. Vee Vee is underrated.

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