I was well into a bottle of Yellowtail Riesling on Monday, August 28th. I had intercepted a tweet from John about a show at Schuba’s Tavern. “$6 showcase, 3 bands..”. I don’t know if it was the wine, or my love for local musicians, but I tossed on a top and hopped on my bicycle. By the time I got to Schuba’s Tavern the last band had just started their set. This band was Archie Powell & The Exports. I stood with PBR in hand,observing the space, the people and the band.
Everyone around me was bouncing various parts of their bodies, or swinging their partners around. I stood there with PBR in hand, trying not to “feel the vibration”. I did this only because I wanted to try and get a critical view of the show. I tried to not fall in love. It didn’t work. By the third AP&E song, I too could be found bopping back and forth. As Marky Mark would say, “It’s such a good vibration. It’s such a sweet sensation”
The next challenge was to try and not get lost in the attractiveness of this band. The charming brotherhood this foursome shares on stage will make you crush hard, indie chicks. if you’re like me, Archie Powell and Adam Export’s beards will do the trick straight away. I digress.
Skip Work follows the Loose Change EP, upping the ante to 12 songs. The first song, “Milkman Blues” is short, concise and simple. The song opens with the creek of a door and a few footsteps, before Powell delves into the struggles of life. Don’t let this pop/garage/indie band fool you. Nothing you have in your record collection is like AP&E. Their music lends to the likeliness of Elvis Costello, and Weezer. At times Powell’s voice sounds like that of a young Stephen Malkmus or Paul Westerberg. But AP&E hold a very strong identity of their own.
Skip Work easily chronicles the bands move from Wisconsin to Chicago in “Moving to the City”. Nodding to a breakup with lyrics, I waste no time, I gotta say that it all seems sad to me. That a change can’t come from disarray. An upbeat catchy tune that will make you jump around, fist pumps and all. On a more serious side, Follow Through is an anthem for having to move away from a love interest. I’m sure you noticed that I’m scared to follow through. This decision wasn’t exactly mine. I beg you to notice that I’ll save a place for you, next to my poor heart thats lost in time. A few interpretations could come out of this song. But considering the tone of the album a break up and break away from love song fits all too smoothly here.
On a similar note, “The Darndest Things” shows the softer side of AP&E . It also showcases the finger stylings of Ryan Export on a small keyboard solo. Why I love this song is easy. It’s relatable and during the pinnacle of the song the band gives you that feeling of being in a bar with your mates, drinking your troubles away. Think “Sweet Caroline..BUM, BUM, BUMMM” and replace it with It’s not hard to see you, you make me say the darndest things. Oh, baby I do decree of mercy, mercy me. These songs still hold the same power/pop riffs that flow through the entire album.
There is no doubt about it these boys have talent and they are not afraid to show it. All songs have the same basic song format of: verse/chorus/verse/chorus/instrument solo, but don’t let the simplicity of the song format fool you. Simple is as simple does. For these boys, simple does them well. If AP&E gave me a black sweat-suit with matching black and white Nike shoes, I’d wear them. If they gave me kool-aid and told me to drink it, I would.
This foursome is a foursome you want to follow. We don’t know what is next for the boys, but you can anticipate something that will make you feel good. I’m willing to bet that whatever they do next will be on par with the same high energy pop sounds as Skip Work, perhaps with more Chicago references and surely a bit of heartache.
Next time to catch Archie Powell & The Exports is at Darkroom (2210 W Chicago Ave Chicago, IL)