You may not have heard of Archie Powell & The Exports before, but this Chicago group has just put out one of the catchiest rock and roll albums of 2012 with their second release Great Ideas In Action. Building on an infectious run of upbeat drums and guitars that call to mind The Replacements and early Elvis Costello the band exudes in tales that flirt with the equal dangers of “Crazy Pills” and “Shooting Sprees”.
There is a writer’s appeal to Archie’s lyrics as lines like “Keep your head above or be subdued/You know your halfway dead no matter which you choose” on their most timely song “Job Fair”. However, they never sacrifice catchiness for seriousness as can be seen on “I Need Supervision with the lines; “You oughta know, why I compete, riding shotgun from the bucket seat/It just goes to show, that I wish you’d stay, I need my privileges taken away”.
The choruses and verses meld as Powell talks about friends down and out on Vicodin in “Sticky Buttons” or not deserving his bachelor’s degree on the hugely swelling title track. Impressively the band manages to consistently produce upbeat danceable rock numbers behind any trial and tribulation. Ryan Export on keys adds to this bouncy feel as does Adam and RJ on the low end; keeping things bubbling positive while making being left behind on “All The Same” and giving up the dream on “Only So Much You Can Do” not sound all that bad.
The band that Archie Powell & The Exports instantly bring to mind is The Hold Steady. They both display a scaled down sense of bar band freedom and flashes of musical noir, but these Midwesterners are more then Craig Finn disciples as they lean toward the pop side of things instead of big arena rock. Fans of upbeat, intelligent, rock and roll can’t let Great Ideas In Action pass them bye.