Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Archers of Loaf's All the Nation's Airports

Let the mid-90's review continue: the Archers of Loaf provided necessary roughness to the early to mid-90's "college rock" genre, giving it a little more straightforwardness than Pavement, a little more professionalism than Guided By Voices, and a little more accessibility than Sonic Youth. The band was pretty ubiquitous on college radio for a good chunk of that decade, only to be replaced by Eric Bachman's Crooked Fingers project after the Archers called it quits.

All that said, I fully anticipated being bored by All the Nation's Airports, seeing as how alot of the music of that period hasn't stood against time. I expected no more than a nostalgic ride, and the Clutterer is all about dismantling nostalgia. It was to a great degree of surprise, then, that I actually still liked the album, would probably listen to it again, but (who am I kidding?) shelve it in the long run.

The Archers of Loaf do a worthy service to post-punk, angular music, years before people attached the prefix "emo" to it and ruined college rock forever. All the Nation's Airport flows between that and Harvest period Neil Young piano songs, transitioning without being jarring, conceptual without being pretentious, earnest without being naive. This is meat and potatoes stuff, devoid of dressing, and as such All the Nation's Airports is still appreciable and listenable.

It's a true surprise that I still enjoy the stuff, but an even bigger surprise that others have enjoyed it to the point of not letting go. As good as All the Nation's Airports may be, it's still dated material, and there's no sense of repeating it. Why hundreds of band still latch onto this sound ten years after the fact, then, is a mystery to me.

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