Not many bands can take a 23 year break between recording and still sound just as vital as they used to. Archers of Loaf pull it off on “Raleigh Days,” their first new song since 1998, which Merge Records released to all the usual streaming and download sites today. It has pretty much all the earmarks that have made me love the Archers since I first heard “Wrong” on Album 88 back in 1993: a sharp riff, high-neck guitar lines that stab through the mix, lyrics that are like 50% impenetrable, and an anxious tension between feeling uptight but also sluggish and stoned. I can’t quite suss out what makes these Raleigh days so memorable for the band’s singer and songwriter Eric Bachmann, but I can tell you how “Raleigh Days” makes me feel, and, uh, that’s pretty good.
It’s a big contrast to their last album, 1998’s White Trash Heroes, which was made by a band that was clearly exhausted and struggling to find new creative avenues while also breaking free of their audience’s expectations. “Raleigh Days” most sounds like an outtake from 1996’s All the Nation’s Airports—it’s a bright, warm, blast of noise that’s been funneled into the shape of an agreeable pop song, but still doesn’t quite meet the listener halfway.
There are Archers of Loaf songs I’ve been singing along to for 27 years and still don’t know all the words to. I’m fully resigned to never fully understanding the words to “Raleigh Days,” and don’t see how or why that could be a problem for anybody. And the weirdest thing about that is how Bachmann has understandably moved away from the gruff growl he sang with throughout the Archers’ original period; he no longer sounds like your North Carolina grandpa’s weird friend from Roxboro who’s been a serious smoker since he was 12 fronting a punk band, but instead uses the softer, almost crooner-like approach that dominates his post-Archers band, Crooked Fingers. And yet his lyrics are just as opaque as they were on Icky Mettle back in 1993.
Anyway. You can listen to “Raleigh Days” through YouTube below. The band’s also going on tour, and you can find those dates below. And, finally, I had a short chat with Lizzie Manno, Paste’s assistant music editor, about “Raleigh Days”; you can find that video below, too, or over on Paste’s YouTube channel.
21 — Chapel Hill, N.C. @ Cat’s Cradle +
22 — Atlanta @ Terminal West +
7 — Nashville, Tenn. @ The Basement East %
13 — Woodstock, N.Y. @ Colony #
14 — Boston @ Royale #
10 — Asheville, N.C. @ Grey Eagle
11 — Birmingham, Ala. @ Saturn %
17 — Philadelphia @ Underground Arts #
18 — Baltimore @ Ottobar #
30 — St. Louis @ Delmar Hall ^
1 — Lawrence, Kan. @ The Bottleneck ^
2 — Omaha, Neb. @ The Waiting Room ^
3 — Denver @ Bluebird Theater
15 — Dallas @ Deep Ellum Art Co.
16 — Austin, Texas @ Mohawk
17 — Houston @ White Oak Downstairs
4 — Brooklyn, N.Y. @ Music Hall of Williamsburg
6 — New York @ Bowery Ballroom #
19 — Richmond, Va. @ The Broadberry &
20 — Washington @ Black Cat &
9 — Portland, Ore. @ Mississippi Studios
10 — Portland, Ore. @ Mississippi Studios
11 — Seattle @ Showbox
12 — Vancouver, B.C. @ Imperial
24 — Minneapolis @ Fine Line *
25 — Chicago @ Subterranean *
+ w/ Gauche
% w/ Peachy
- w/ SAVAK
^ w/ The Hecks
& w/ Joyero
- w/ Ratboys
Senior editor Garrett Martin writes about videogames, comedy, travel, theme parks, wrestling, and anything else that gets in his way. He’s also on Twitter @grmartin.