Archers of Loaf Vee Vee (Remastered)(Merge Records) Buy it from Insound
Greatest of all time. I wouldn’t go that far but it’s certainly up there.
There comes a moment in every indie kid’s lifetime when they give up on anything remotely mainstream and engage in a musical journey of listening to bands or singers that are different, possibly started by their cool uncle lending them a Pixies album or a friend tells them about Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds. Slowly but steadily the indie kid eats their way through the classic albums of the underground American alternative rock scene from the 1990’s and after overplaying their favourite Pavement album, they happen upon Icky Mettle or Vee Vee. If it’s Vee Vee that they go for, they spend the rest of their days marvelling at how Harnessed in Slums isn’t a monster indie crossover anthem or why, when walking down streets, no one is screaming FABRICOH! Because it is, in the end, the greatest sound around.
There’s little that is groundbreaking about Vee Vee, it’s just a genuinely good album. The fuzzy sludgy guitars sounds as good as ever, if anything this record’s improved with age, though it could be the current stream of bands that base their entire recording career around what was so good about this wave of music, yet never capture that original essence. Returning to Vee Vee is like seeing a painting in real life. Yeah, you’ve seen prints and copies of the original, but when you see the real thing, you just know that it’s better. Harnessed in Slums still sounds sublime, its catchy, screamed refrain is rarely bettered. From the first Ooooo of Step Into the Light to the (admittedly quite crap) guitar/drum bash that ends Underachievers March and Fight, you feel at home. Despite the few efforts at instrumental interludes, Vee Vee remains as accessible as ever, a compliment rarely said about acts of the underground scene.
Then we get on to the business of the disc of odds and ends. As a rule, the second disc in a remastered album is terrible. It might include the odd track that makes you think oh that’s not bad, but generally, there’s a reason they were unreleased. Vee Vee’s disc of demos manages to avoid this common pitfall. It’s refreshing to hear a short, acoustic rendering of Fabricoh and Nostalgia, in addition to that there are a number of 4 track demos that have that Guided by Voices feel of garage rock, it’s all warm and fuzzy sounding, the hiss is present and you can hear the release of the guitar strings. There’s a clear warmth and passion in this remaster; if you’ve yet to let this album grow to be a part of your life, get this. Now.
But it's still not as good as Icky Mettle.14 March, 2012 - 22:30 — James McKenna