Archers of Loaf (reissues!)
Archers of Loaf’s 1994 debut album Icky Mettle seemed to spring fully formed out of North Carolina with a completely new sound. Like the Jesus Lizard’s first few albums they seemed revolutionary, you couldn’t walk around a college campus or hipster enclave without hearing them, and both bands inspired tons of bands to try to emulate their sound with mixed results.
If you weren’t in college at the time and don’t have these songs imbedded into your grey matter, fear not. Merge Records is reissuing all of the band’s four albums across a variety of formats with extra songs and liner notes. The first entry in the series, Icky Mettle, is an example of how to do a reissue right.
Icky Mettle is newly remastered, and if you haven’t listened to the album in a while, it still sounds revolutionary. Off-kilter songwriting and structure, with a pop sensibility and enough grit and noise to make it interesting, the album still holds up. Even if you can’t figure out what the song is about, you’ll have them stuck in your head for days, from the anguished “Fat” to the poppy “Plumb Line.” Bob Weston’s remastering seems to bring out the double guitars more than the previous mix, and the overall sound is cleaner and thicker, bringing out the contrast between the melody and noise.
If remastering Icky Mettle wasn’t enough, Merge crammed the second disc with the Vs. The Greatest of All Time EP (an underrated high point) and a goldmine of singles and compilation songs. While it looks like most of the songs on the disc were previously released on The Speed of Cattle compilation, the collection works well in context with Mettle. Standouts include “Bathroom” with a Greg Ginn-like descending guitar intro, the creepy disfunctional abuse song “Tatyana” and the anthemic “What Did You Expect.” Some of these rougher songs reveal a Treepeople influence, especially “Bathroom.” Speaking of Treepeople, “Quinn Beast,” a song originally on the split 7″ with Archers and Treepeople is included, but not the cover of “Funnelhead.” Maybe they’re saving some treats for the next few CDs.
Merge Records: www.mergerecords.com