A new EP from Cambridge bluesman Richard Archer, a favourite on this site and now recording as the trio R.J. Archer & The Painful Memories, bringing the welcome addition of a neglected style to the Cambridge music scene.
1. It’s Snowing in Hell A song that first surfaced on his 2017 EP, this is now given the full band treatment, adding an extra energy to the insistent riff, always returning to that great title line,‘…you tell me that you’re doing well, it must be snowing in hell…..’ With the gradually increasing desolation of the vocal it is a mini Tarantino movie soundtrack. Roger James on bass and Ben Kingsbury on drums make their presence felt at the end of this excellent track.
2. Bad Guys Always Win A more free-form track with RJ’s best vocal performance and lots of instrumental embellishments and nuance. The lyric is of course a tale of woe but with a twist away from the personal heartache to more general and bleak regard of the human condition ‘……comeuppance never comes along and where it’s gone nobody knows….they used to end up in jail, now it seems they can’t fail…‘.
An anthem for our mixed-up times…
3. In The Wrong The other two tracks were sparser in their sharpness; this one is full-on blues rock with unashamedly distorted guitar smeared across the mix creating a triumphant ‘as-live’ sound. The powerfully delivered declaiming lyric pulls no punches in its meaning, ‘….you’re in the wrong, there will be hell to pay….’.
A speeded up ending reminds us that there is something invincible and addictive about a bluesy rock trio in full flight.
A new LP of his own compositions from Cambridge acoustic guitarist R J Archer. Also known as Ricky Boom-Boom or Richard Archer he continues to project the blues through a neo-folk prism when recording or playing live and the opener ‘Trouble Will Find You’ is a fine example of this crossover.
‘Walking Blues’ is a smooth waterfall of guitar while ‘Song Of The Seasons’ and the delicate ‘Bitter End’ shows some psychedelic roots. Richard described ‘Spilt Milk’ as depicting how regret is a corrosive emotion, set to an unrelenting set of chord changes and strong hook. Considering the supposed limitations of one man and an acoustic guitar, there is a satisfying variety of material on show in these twelve tracks; ‘I Need To Sleep’ being a technical workout beneath the somnolent lyric.
‘Tired Old War’ is a straightforward protest song, always good to hear. Previously released ‘Barbara’ is the most unusual sonic track here, it was reviewed on this site as ‘….a stately amalgamation of dense guitars and a lyric and vocal delivery reminiscent of Syd Barrett’s later solo material….’
‘Downtime In The Panoptican’ is a challenging title that invites further research (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panopticon) and creates an uncomfortable atmosphere of dissonant paranoia. ‘Bottlenecks And Barriers’ is more soothing and final song ‘Discotheque In The Dark’ is an impressionistic, intricate piece ‘..Who knows where everybody goes…now the doors have all but closed….’, a long way removed from the bright lights and loud noises of the institution in the title. This is perhaps echoed in the cover artwork where a knowing R J, guitar in hand, is leaving the party behind…