Playing “Ketchup”

The Electric Arch

Out of Range

Electric Arch album cover

1475458 Records DK, 2019

Review by Kent Manthie                                                 

When you’ve listened to the radio too much & have just been hit over the head with worthless, saccharine, grind-’em-out-like-Pop-tarts-style pop & you’ve pretty much lost your faith in any type of modern music it’s time to turn that crappy hype machine off and get your head around the indie music scene!

By this route you’ll discover myriad reasons to not give up hope and to even look forward to newer and more stylistic music that also has substance.

Such is the case with the new album by The Electric Arch, Out of Range. It is a balm for a bruised and battered mind, raped by big corporate junk in the form of radio pop as well as the long-ago useless musical genre-term “alternative”, which was alternative – an alternative to the above incessant cookie-cutter bullshit that has been the accepted and even awarded & rewarded derivative and regurgitated sloppy seconds which somehow never seem to have measured up to what had inspired, say, 96% of the bands/singers who had the gumption to assay a try into the music biz.

And, what’s worse, since around 2007-08, just about all “boundaries” which once existed in music, at the least to distinguish what’s what and by whom, etc. But, due to incentives, directives, good money spent at, and so forth, we’ve been inundated by a “mainstream” of music (dare one even call it “rock” at all, without a cynical smirk, a tongue-in-cheek smarminess that’s supposed to allude to the fact that “you’re” so aware that “rock” is too “last century”, stifles creativity (whatever that’s supposed to insinuate – even though rock has never stayed bolted down to one or even two or three styles; that the stuff people have known of as “rock” has, for 55 years now, gone through more mutations than three generations of a cross-breeding, non-laboratory, i.e., in-the-wild (or “of nature) evolution that has never ceased, though it keeps on going, spawning occasional mutations that, if advantageous, can bring about a new trait of a species or if it turns out to be disadvantageous it is damned to be wiped out, along with said species if not stamped out ASAP. One could, with that Darwinian reference point, show that rock has gone through an evolution unlike any in an organic environment.

But it looks as if now, if one doesn’t include the saving grace that indie music is, that the lazy, pathetic Xerox machine that is the current state of mainstream rock and pop, it’s becoming an endangered species. But there’s almost always a reason that organisms go extinct: overpopulation, paucity of food resources, lack/loss of habitat, losing the ability to adapt, and so on.

That is where indie music comes in: the best of all worlds for a healthy, non-heavy-handed ascending (bottom-up) form of hierarchy as opposed to a descending (top-down) one. Give the kids the freedom to utilize their creativity and just let it come and out it will pour, like sweet nectar from a flower that has had the chance to succeed well without encroaching, human-inspired sprawl, too many competitors, not just those that naturally arise and for which almost all natural organisms are used to but man-made exurbs which, while making room for more and more housing developments, take away spaces for the aforementioned flower or plant or colony of animals, etc in which to thrive and thrive they will, given the right circumstances.Electric Arch Photo

So it seems it is with the Chateau St. Philippe in Bayou St. John, New Orleans-based Electric Arch. Their “live” line-up includes James Marler, T-Rey Cloutier and “Sir” Alex ‘Smudge’ Smith. When out gigging on the West Coast, surf enthusiast, Ron Bocian plays the drums, while when EA are back home in the “Deep” South, the role is assumed by one “Mr Binkles the Spider Monkey”.

The songs on Out of Range are composed by Marler, though they’ve been “translated, recorded and produced” by Cloutier. The recording sessions themselves sound like more of a laid-back set of jamming more than a tightly controlled, expensive studio system end-piece. The sessions usually would start sometime in the afternoon (probably after much of the band had awoken from the previous nights “work”) and would keep going until the wee hours of the next morning. Hey – it beats working for a living!!

The opening track, “Crisps and Crackers” is a really awesome tune. It’s the kind of song which makes me, not only glad I hit “play” to begin with, but is that which makes me want to hear more. That “can’t-wait-to-hear-more” feeling does not disappoint when number two, “Postcards to Celeste” kicks off. I suppose I could go, track by track and “translate”, in a manner of speaking, the virtues and anything I feel lacking, if I thought that was really necessary or even do-able. But, of course not. One more song I can add to this the third track, “Las Ramblas”, a really groovy sound which, just like the previous ones don’t at all pigeonhole Electric Arch as a “Southern Band”. No way, these guys could be just as much from San Francisco, Austin or Buffalo, NY.

Of course, I shouldn’t just limit my exegesis to the first three songs; I’ll also add that besides there being many great, hummable tunes, such as “Granada”, “Saturday Night into Sunday Morning”, “Lost City” and “Western Civ”, among them. The jamming, roving, sound is anchored by a steady beat; the guitars are a mixture of an island-inspired electric guitar with an acoustic to blend in quite nicely. And let’s not forget that sweet sensation that comes from the organ and whatever other keyboards they use. I really hope to hear more from, not only Electric Arch but from more and more outstanding indie outfits. If we ever needed this freedom-from-money-controlled, bottom-line maintaining corporate clock punchers, the time is NOW!! Enjoy and spread the word to a couple friends and one hopes those friends will tell some more and so on and so on. Word of mouth is really the best and strongest way of getting eyes opened to the greatness, in this case – or, if it were a not-so-good situation, word of mouth would, most likely take care of that (or else that band could get a contract for some major label which, in my eyes, is just as bad!). Enjoy the great vibes from Out of Range and many others to come. –KM.

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