Dallas, TX-based group Aerchive (pronounced ‘archive’) has jumped headfirst into the rich and nuanced world of prog-rock. Comprised of friends Jeff Shapard (bass guitar, vocals), Jonah Salih (guitar, vocals), and Michael Timmons (drums, percussion), the trio has recently released their debut self-titled album. This comprehensive and experimental work is a thorough and complex introduction to the band’s distinctive sound.
HERE’S WHAT WE DUG MOST…
Carrying the message that “things inevitably fall apart when they are forced to fit together“, the opening track Force Fit captures its theme with genuine accuracy. At over 14 minutes long, the band has given themselves plenty of time to explore a multitude of concepts and sounds – and explore they do, sometimes only lingering on a particular melodic phrase for a sole measure. The band claims influence from an impressively wide variety of genres, including punk, metal, ska, jazz, reggae, ragtime, classical, classic rock, and others, and in this piece they seem to sample nearly all of them. Indeed, we often hear glimpses of brilliant melodies and ear-grabbing arrangements, but keeping up with the track’s many twists and turns is quite the auditory workout.
This exploratory, movement-lead approach is regularly recurrent across this debut project, but it also isn’t always the norm. Nine-Tenths, for example, leans in a heavier direction but takes a more linear path, touting crunchy guitars and a powerful vocal (backed by equally powerful harmonies).
The Aggieland Rag takes the prize for “most unexpected genre shift” on this album. While the band mentions a ragtime influence, after the first three tracks one would almost never expect to find a song with such a deeply rooted ragtime foundation anywhere on this record – but that’s what Aerchive is doing so well in this project; they keep you guessing, which keeps you listening to every measure. And this track is no exception, with its strummy acoustic guitars, plucky leads, and light, technical percussion.
We also love El Paso Nights for its dark but fun energy and classic/modern rock hybrid sound, as well as Sicarii for its smooth funk tones and raw, bluesy vocals.
OUR FAVORITE TRACK…
Not to be outdone by themselves, towards the end of the record we find the 14+ minute, 5 part epic that is The Hedgehog at the Gates of Hell. A true prog-rock instrumental intro, a mysterious and foreboding mountain climb, a rapid-fire, punk-tinged apex, a show-stopping flute solo, and a hand-bells-meet-rock-n-roll outro – when we say this track has everything, we mean it. This is a full and complete dive into a fantasy world that is completely immersive and captivating.
Aerchive is drawing so far outside the lines they’re writing on a different page – but the work that they’ve come up with is fascinating nonetheless. Shattering genre and cohesivity expectations at literally every turn, this debut work from Aerchive depicts a band with a bold, unafraid sense of self and the desire to chase the music wherever it takes them, leaving no stone unturned and no genre unexplored. For those who walk to the beat of their own drum, who can appreciate true artistic value from a band willing to follow their muse in any direction – Aerchive undoubtedly is for you.
BELOW: Listen to Aerchive and connect with their website and social media platforms. Please support Aerchive by visiting them online, and playing, downloading, and/or purchasing their music, or attending a live show! And, as always, thank you for supporting real music!
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