Perched on shelves, buried in bins, and collecting dust on racks, some of the world’s best music is left to the fate of time. Forgotten and neglected, these artists and albums are now primed for re-evaluation thanks to a world gone digital. Any would-be musical explorer can now plug in, tune out, and turn up. Deserted is aimed at aiding those who would embrace the past rather than reject it. So open up your arms and welcome Archers of Loaf.
Lost in the frenzy of a reunited Pavement was the equally energized college radio movement of the 80s and early 90s. Any lazy historian can point to the pioneering model of R.E.M., Hüsker Dü, The Minutemen, and The Pixies (among many others) and link to what was eventually labeled alternative rock. Their strident work, unfortunately, found a host of equally talented bands left unappreciated. Such was the existence of Chapel Hill darlings Archers of Loaf.
Look no further than the band’s sophomore album, Vee Vee, for unsoiled evidence. The album and the band were sloppily compared to Pavement, likely for the slacker guitar motifs and anguished vocal stylings of Eric Bachmann. But listen to opening track “Step into the Light,” and you’ll find a band a step ahead of the maturing curve on which Pavement existed. The interplay between the guitars coupled with the simple lyric “Step into the light/So tired of being in the dark and all alone/Step into the light” was poignant and straight to the point.
But comparisons to Pavement have only proven ill-conceived as 15 years has grown onto Vee Vee. As the mainstream world continues to smoosh 70s fashion, 80s melodies and 90s hooks into generic factory models, the energy and passion of lead single “Harnessed in Slums,” still speaks to those lost in a generation promoting waste and image rather than individuality and substance. It’s a theme echoed throughout Vee Vee without being heavy-handed or a drive to depress. Bachmann’s call for “free space” during “Underachiever’s March and Fight Song” rings louder now than it did a decade ago. Sandwiched in between obvious shots at a world that doesn’t give a damn is an album that stand defiant in the face of apathy. There’s no need to be ironic or clever, just to tell a few stories that get to the heart of matters. Such honesty deserves a reward and though it’s 15 years late, stand and salute Vee Vee before it’s swallowed up by the dust unsettled by the newest flash in the pan.