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Album Review: Archie Bronson Outfit – Wild Crush

3 min read

London’s Archie Bronson Outfit were first discovered in a delightfully old-school fashion by the head of Domino records, Laurence Bell (Domino being the undeniably cool home to acts like Franz Ferdinand, Dirty Projectors and current global dominators Arctic Monkeys) at his local pub during yet another run-of-the-mill gig for the power-trio. It’s hard to believe that this was nearly a decade ago and in the interim, the Archie Bronson Outfit have gone on to release three solid records in their 2004 debut Fur, the Nashville-recorded Derdang Derdang in 2006 and Coconut back in 2010. This month they return with Wild Crush; a concise, to-the-point rock outing with enough blues flourishes that some might argue it’s the album The Black Keys should have made this year.

ArchieBronsonOutfit-WildCrushFrom the opening drumroll and high-energy riffage of Two Doves On a Lake, the Archie Bronson Outfit sound is immediately thrust upon you whether you’re ready for it or not: It’s part classic rock, part CBGB-era punk rock and part juke-joint jump-blues, all articulated by bizarre middle-eastern wind and reed instruments and frontman Sam Windett’s quivering howl. While on Two Doves On a Lake, he sounds like a less baritone-y Eddie Vedder, over the course of Wild Crush’s 9 tracks he shifts vocally between David Gilmour on the stomping In White Relief, a shaky James Mercer of The Shins on Cluster Up & Hover and a vocoder-ed Neil Young on closer Country Miles.

Windett is only one piece of the puzzle however, with Dorian Hobday and Mark “Arp” Cleveland comprising a pretty ferocious rhythm section on bass and drums respectively. They’ve got that intuition for when a groove or a riff should be delivered with airtight urgency like on the record’s opener or when human feel should take precedence on the almost unashamedly Pink Floyd Love To Pin You Down where the song is given room to, excuse the pun, “breathe” under Windett’s psychedelic noodlings.

The contributions of unofficial fourth member Duke Garwood are at times the thing that saves the Archie Bronson Outfit from falling into the chasm of the litany of other noisy indie-rock bands doing the rounds over the last few years. His off-kilter riff-doubling with ethnic flutes and a Moroccan instrument called a rhaita (which can best be described as a “slippery” sounding saxophone) not only beef up the frequency range occupied by any of the album’s uncompromising blues-rock riffs, but he also adds a sense of legitimacy to the band’s prog-experimentalism on songs like the cavernous Lori From The Outer Reaches or the aforementioned Love To Pin You Down.

For all its scope and sonic boundary pushing, Wild Crush is also a record that isn’t afraid to embrace pop music when the need arises. Sweat & Flow (Dreams) is pretty adorably twee with a uniquely British sensibility and Country Miles has a Yoshimi-era Flaming Lips vibe that rounds out the collection beautifully by being all warm and fuzzy in the heart, not just the output of the bands amplifiers.

There are a hell of a lot of ideas in play on Wild Crush and while at times it sounds like the Archie Bronson Outfit are punching a little above their weight, their ambition and absolutely audible work ethic will make you forgive them for the few flat vocal notes or late snares that are scattered throughout. All in all, the record takes a sound with which you’re painfully familiar (let’s call it “UK Indie Rock”) and makes your ears prick up by doing something different and interesting with it. For this, Windett, Hobday, Cleveland and Garwood are to be deservedly congratulated.

1 thought on “Album Review: Archie Bronson Outfit – Wild Crush

  1. Nice review. Hobday is no longer in this current line up of the band though, he left after Coconut. Kristian Robinson (aka Capitol K) is now on bass and other sonics. Saw them play an in-store at Rough Trade in London last night and he was playing bass whist his foot was up on the keyboards making a lovely wild sound. Duke Garland is on baritone sax only. Fantastic album!

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