Archie and the Bunkers – Archie and the Bunkers (Dirty Water)
Let’s get it out of the way, up front. The two members of Archie and The Bunkers are teenage brothers from Cleveland, Ohio, who live with their parents. You need to know because media types will get hung up on that fact if and when these kids get better known.
That neither 17-year-old Emmett (on drums and vocals) or 14-year-old Cullen (organ and vocals) O'Connor is old enough to ask for booze on their backstage rider doesn’t matter. Not a jot. They pump out simple, and simply good, stripped-back punk sounds that are bereft of bullshit.
Emmett and Cullen couldn’t find a guitarist who’d gel with them so they struck out as a duo. Armed with a four-piece kit and an organ that’s pushed hard and to the front-and-centre of their sound, they’re pure energy that overrides any marketer’s thirst for an angle.
“Sally Lou” (the opener) sounds hesitant. “I’m Not Really Sure What To Do” puts any misgivings to rest with a driving organ line and sure-footed backbeat enveloping the raw, battily imperious vocal.”You’re The Victim” is a ‘60s late night horror movie theme welded to a shouty vocal. “The Last Stooge” twists the dial to unhinged and the laid-back groove of “Joanie” turns it back down.
It’s about the dynamics and Archie and The Bunkers have plenty in a song like “Miss Taylor” where a repeating organ phrase underpins Emmett’s deadpan vocal and intuitive drumming. Teen angst never gets old.
There’s a superficial resemblance to Suicide (they have two guys) and an even more tenuous connection to Pere Ubu (they like swirly keyboard sounds) but these songs have a unique musicality based on the younger brother’s deft organ playing. If you had to draw a line it might lead to DMZ and Lyres mainman Mono Man but comparisons aren’t really needed. It is what it is.
The elevator’s about to leave. You might want to get in now while it's at the ground floor.