Back during the mid- 90s indie-rock boom there were plenty of bands hipper and more fawned-over than North Carolina s Archers of Loaf, but I can only think of one or two that were better. The likes of Guided By Voices, Sebadoh, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, and so many others may have courted more admiration by being more conceptual, more aloof, cooler. But it was the Archers of Loaf, with their heavy-machine-factory drums, icky-metal guitar riffs, wisecracking redneck bass player, and perpetually croaking lead singer Eric Bachmann, who came on as rock-and-roll true believers and found a home in the heart of this Replacements/Hüsker Dü fan for their explosive, messy, smart, and witty punk-pop.
So I wasnt that excited, initially, by Bachmann s much more subdued post-Archers project, Crooked Fingers. I dont want Tom Waits, I want the Clash. I dont want atmospheric soundscapes, I want rock-and-roll. But Bachmann s innate musical smarts have made it work, and the band s latest, the all-covers EP Reservoir Songs, is a winner. The Kris Kristofferson ( Sunday Morning Coming Down ) and Bruce Springsteen ( The River ) covers are gems, but Bachmann s slowed-down, banjo-spiked reading of Prince s When U Were Mine (one of the very, very best pop songs of the last quarter century, and that s no exaggeration) is one of the finest things Ive heard all year. It s better than Cyndi Laupers game version on She s So Unusual and isnt far from the original itself. Bachmann s deeply committed vocals and novel arrangement allow the listener to appreciate just how durable and how fantastic the song really is. It makes you wish Bachmann would do a whole album of Prince covers.
Crooked Fingers will be at the Hi-Tone Café on Saturday, May 18th, along with local boys Lucero, whose punked-up rock-and-roll has always reminded me more than a little of Bachmann s old band. Should be a great one. Chris Herrington
Im having a Tim Sampson moment. That is to say, I dont know you and therefore I dont give a rodent s rump what you do this week. Actually, I do. But everybody playing around town is either someone Ive pitched in this column a zillion times before or someone I wouldnt send a dog to see. Naturally, The Subteens will rock when they play with Little Rock scorchers Go Fast at the Young Avenue Deli on Friday, May 17th. Andy Grooms, who plays the Deli on Wednesday, May 22nd, will dazzle you with his songwriting prowess. Luceros back in town, which is always good news, and Barbara Blue never left, which is also good news. But if you, like me, are having a case of the same-o-same-o blues, then maybe we should hook up at the Lounge for the Jason D. Williams show on Saturday, May 18th. Oh sure, Ive seen Jason D. a zillion times, and (if you are the least bit savvy) you have too. But the only thing predictable about Jerry Lee Lewis piano-beating doppelganger is his unpredictability. Hell jump up and down on his piano and scream Red Hot, and then he will brag in glorious song about how he got so out of control the night before that he dyed his hair and chartered a Lear jet to L.A. It s good, unwholesome fun for everyone. Chris Davis