Du Me

Archers began with "Vocal Shrapnel," a song off their slow-impact All the Nations Airports LP. Like so many Archers songs, it might be lyrically empty, but most of the words at least sound smart, and it's got a great sing-along line: "Overrated, she's not faking/ Idiots collect to run a losing place." Eric Johnson's guitar notes rang like pulses of Morse code against Eric Bachmann's fucked-up guitar chords. Bassist Matt Gentling, who has the rare gift of being able to move like a sloshed whirling dervish and still pound his instrument, wasted no time getting into his shtick.

That led to "The Lowest Part Is Free," one of Archers' damnations of the record industry, performed complete with its segue into "Freezing Point" from the Vs. the Greatest of All Time EP. For the first time the crowd responded immediately, howling between songs and shouting out titles. Archers are a fan's band, partly evidenced by the fact that the quartet tours more than the average H.O.R.D.E. group, yet still can sell out a show at Bimbo's four months after a gig at the Great American.

The vicious snarl (note: Bachmann smoked at least half a pack of Marlboro Lights before taking the stage) of "Audiowhore" prompted the indie equivalent of pogoing to the oldies. But, oddly enough, it was the frail whistle on "Rental Sting" and the epic "Distance Comes in Droves" from Airports that showed what the Archers became over the past four years. Both songs ebb and flow with an acute sense of dynamics, lyrical clarity, and actual beauty. Most critics panned the new record within weeks, but that's only because hopes were so high. (Option sarcastically dubbed Archers "the Great White Hope" last fall.) But at Bimbo's Archers pulled off an old-school rock 'n' roll trick, demanding their audience re-evaluate a good record that almost slipped through the cracks -- or into the used bin. Despite itself, indie rock is still searching for an idol. Teen-agers might not want to fuck Bachmann, but at least he has a brain.

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