Sound Renaissance: Archie and the Bunkers "Songs From The Lodge"
Two brothers, Emmett and Cullen O’Connor, unleash a unique juxtaposition of jazz, blues and punk with nothing more than a four-piece drum set, an organ and a set of savage vocal chords. The Cleveland duo draws influence from jazz stalwarts such as Jimmy Smith and Richard “Groove” Holmes. Combine that with punk pioneers The Stooges, The Dead Boys and The Screamers — and you have Archie and the Bunkers. They’ve only been around since 2013, but have already amassed an impressive repute. They’ve shared the stage with Iggy Pop, The Sonics, Echo and the Bunnymen, The Black Lips and Thee Oh Sees. They’ve released music on In The Red, Third Man Records, and Norton Records. Following their debut garage shockwave and a couple of EPs, Archie and the Bunkers have unleashed their sophomore album Songs From the Lodge.
Hi-fi organ punk is the most stripped back way to describe this rowdy duo. The eleven new tracks are as no-frills as they come — taut with piercing drums, swirling organs and blues-driven vocals. But each thump of the drums; each punch of the organ; each vocal belted out resonates and fills every empty space of sound. Enter the opening track: we all have bad days, but apparently Bill is having a bad day too. He gets up in the morning; doesn’t want to go to work; goes downtown and gets into a fight. What are we going to do with you Bill? Whether intended or unintended, the first impression of this album embodies a Stranglers-Cramps infusion.
Moving forward, the hook-driven “You’re My Pacemaker” is a firecracker of metaphoric romanticism – accelerating from poetic pleas to melodic, upbeat sing-alongs. Further wearing their hearts on their sleaves, “Laura” is a love song galore as Emmett’s vocals chime with tender utterance, “We’re like pieces of the big night sky.” But not all romanticism comes in a flowery package. Despite the cheese-baked title, “She’s a Rockin’ Machine” is lustful in a sort of raunchy, Lux Interior way. It is easily one of the catchiest tracks on the album — propelled by sinister splashes of organ and snarling vocals — with each stroke of the organ keys jabbing into your soul.
Who doesn’ t like a good cover? Bunker up for a tribute to LA synth-punks The Screamers. The duo closes the album with a sizzling rendition of “122 Hours of Fear,” rivaling the original version with more sonic umph and youthful zeal. Songs From the Lodge is a riveting work of art, alien from the run-of-the-mill ilk of punk rock genericism.