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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Album Fri May 02 2014

Archie Powell & The Exports are Back in Black

Archie Powell & the Exports are no stranger to the indie rock music game. As a matter of fact, their third studio album, Back in Black, was released just this past week. Featuring Powell on the album cover, sulking amidst a dark backdrop but asserting a powerful gaze at the camera, the image projects how the group has grown and honed in on their sound over their years of making music together.

The themes of the group's new album emerge with the very first song, aptly titled "Everything's Fucked." Powell screams and wails his way through the beginning of the song, distressed about the aspects of every day life within the very first verse. An angsty ballad, the song propels the album forth with a vengeance. This isn't their first album, Skip Work; while still amazing, the material featured on this record is more summery and jubilant, with a darker yet more accessible tone. The subjects are wrought with authenticity while focused within their angst and pain, and seemingly, I identify with the songs more closely than previous material.

"Tattoo on My Brain" lightens the mood a bit and ushers in Archie Powell & The Exports' signature sound. However, the production is tighter and more cultivated than previous work. "Lean" promotes the further angsty feel to their sound, which I definitely wasn't anticipating. However, I didn't hate it, I welcomed it. "Scary Dream" took a detour to the oldest Archie Powells & The Exports material, the beachy, sunshine sound that we are accustomed to, however it is still darker and more reminiscent of a vengeful tempo, akin to that of Arctic Monkeys or the Hives.

"Electrocute My Heart" emerges as my favorite tune on the album. "Electrocute my heart babe / Love can't save my soul," croons Powell, who sings with such an urgency that it is easy to believe whatever messages he is imparting to us listeners, more empowered with each lyric. His sardonic wit within the lyrics makes songs accessible and authentic. "Rodeo Crush" is an unanticipated twist, as it features mainly soft instrumental layering with hushed vocals. After the frenetic nature of the album, it is a welcomed cool-down and a deeper look into the intimate sound at the group's core. However, the album picks up again with punchy ballad "The High Road," which makes me want to stand in a crowded music venue and sing along at the top of my lungs forevermore. The album appropriately closes out with "Mambo No. 9," with Powell screaming in the backdrop of a dark and quick-paced instrumental backing.

The great news is, you can hear Archie Powell & The Exports' new album for yourself live, tonight at Subterranean, for the official album release show for Back in Black. They are no doubt about to bring an electric live performance, presenting listeners with the intense energy present in their new release and then some. As I've heard their sound mature and grow, this album definitely moves forth as their most ambitious and eccentric endeavor yet, one that is welcomed and revered.

Archie Powell & The Exports play Subterranean on Friday, May 2. The 17+ show begins at 8pm, with tickets costing $10 in advance and $12 at the door. Subterranean is located at 2011 W. North Avenue, (773) 278-6600.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »


  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
The Hood Internet
Jaded in Chicago
Largehearted Boy
Little White Earbuds
Live Fix Blog
Live Music Blog
Loud Loop Press
Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
Pop Matters
Resident Advisor
Sound Opinions
Sun-Times Music Blog
Theft Liable to Prosecution
Tribune Music
UR Chicago
Victim Of Time
WFMU's Beware of the Blog
Windy City Rock


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Aragon Ballroom
Auditorium Theatre
Beat Kitchen
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Buddy Guy's Legends
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Elbo Room
Empty Bottle
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Honky Tonk BBQ
House of Blues
Kingston Mines
Lincoln Hall
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Mayne Stage
The Mutiny
Old Town School of Folk Music
Park West
The Promontory
Red Line Tap
Reggie's Rock Club & Music Joint
The Riviera
Thalia Hall
The Shrine
Symphony Center
Tonic Room
Uncommon Ground
The Vic
The Whistler

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  & Shops:

Alligator Records
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Dave's Records
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Drag City
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Groove Distribution
He Who Corrupts
Jam Productions
Jazz Record Mart
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Minty Fresh
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Thrill Jockey Records Touch & Go/Quarterstick Records
Victory Records

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