Back in February 2011 I somehow wound up Facebook friends with Archie Powell. Fast forward three months later. I decide to trim my Facebook friends from 330-something friends to 130-something. Somehow, Mr. Powell survives my miniature holocaust despite me having no idea who the hell this schmuck is. Now that I have considerably fewer friends, Archie’s status updates begin appearing on my wall. I notice he’s in a band, the creatively titled “Archie Powell & The Exports”. Perhaps it was Archie’s complete lack of hubris, perhaps I just wanted the chance to make fun of a fellow struggling artist, or perhaps it was fate. Whatever the cause, I found myself on The Exports bandcamp page, listening to their debut LP “Skip Work”.
Skip Work opens with the very poppy and decidedly not bluesy “Milkman Blues”. From there Skip Work grabs you by the throat, worms into your heartstrings, and takes you on a bumpy ride through its twelve tracks. I won’t lie, I came into this review prepared to rip Archie and his band mates a new asshole, but I simply don’t have it in me. Skip Work is too much fun.
There aren’t any standout tracks on Skip Work. Rather, Archie and Co have a very distinctive, signature style that they maintain throughout. Archie has a twangy, nasally voice halfway between John Darnielle and Tom Petty. It floats over The Exports tightly woven pop crunch like cold milk through sugary cereal, and works surprisingly well for something you’d imagine more suitable for an alt country act. Archie’s no Bob Dylan, but he isn’t Fred Durst either. Much like his music, Archie’s lyrics are simple, sincere, and fun. None of the instruments hog or fight for the spotlight, sacrificing personal glory for the benefit of the whole. When the guitar or keyboard take a few bars to solo, 90% of time it’s a simple repetition of the melody with a grace note or two thrown in ala Weezer and/or Nirvana. Every melody is equally infectious, so that after the CD ends, instead of having one song stuck in your head various melodies and choruses chirp through your brain like a college marching band arrangement.