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Arch Hooks
Back Seat Oracle
Arch Hooks Entertainment
www.archhooks.com


Arch Hooks is a local (Colorado Springs) musician who really defies categorization. Sure, every band likes to say that about themselves - that they can't be pigeonholed - but most bands really do try to focus on a particular sound, demographic, style, whatever. That's how they sell records. Arch, on the other hand, is all over the place: love ballad, piano pop, chain gang, slave song, jazz, rock, spoken word, acid instrumental, and on and on. From a music executive's standpoint, this is not what is generally considered to be a marketable album. However, judging from the horse-sense attitudes espoused in songs like "Driving Like You're Drunk and You're Stoned", "Backseat Oracle", and from Arch's first album, Piano Talk, "Shut the Fuck Up" and "Piano Talk" I expect that he has little patience for the thoughts or words of music execs. If I were to place him in a label, (not to be confused with place a label on him) it would have to be with the eclectic circus that is Alternative Tentacles. Arch's music is evidence of a wide range of creative bursts; someone who scavenges whichever genre best suits the emotional core of the song he has trapped in his head, desperately trying to get out. AT is the sort of place where you get in the club if the manager (Jello Biafra) likes you, and once you're in, he merely expects you to "do what you do."

Arch's technical abilities, particularly on the piano, demonstrate the skill of someone who has mastered the instrument, pushed it to the boundaries of achievement that concert pianists strive for, and then abandoned out of boredom. The piano no longer presents a challenge to him and so it has become a plaything of sorts. In a few of his piano-jazz songs ("Little Leopard", "Miss Cheevious") I can hear him loosening the controls as much as he can, as if to say: how sloppy can I make this, and still have a song? With the guitar, he has done something similar with his experimentation with trippy pedal and reverb effects ("Liquidation"); the instrumental control exerted here is much tighter than in the unrestricted plinking of "Piano Talk", even though the overall effect of the song is a hazy, free-floating, jazz exploration. "Driving Like You're Drunk and You're Stoned" sees him coming back down to earth with a diatribe-through-semi-gritted-teeth regarding the plethora of jackasses on our roads. His rendition is more whimsical and considerably less profane than the things I scream out the window, or seethe through clenched jaws, on my way to work.

Strange though, that Arch remains one of our most popular local entertainers, despite his lack of a particular demographic focus. This may be attributable to a big-fish-in-small-pond effect, in that people will gravitate toward the most talented entertainers in an area with a large population and a dearth of cultural icons. In that respect, a musician like Archie (as his sister calls him) who has something to offer everyone, and can deliver it in a package as appealing as any of his genre-specific contemporaries seems to have discovered and subsequently marketed himself to an as yet undocumented demographic: The Dispossessed.

That's how he sells records.

-JD

Track Listing:

1. Little Leopard
2. Nancy's Serenade
3. Ode To A Shoe Salesman
4. Back Seat Oracle ~ monologue
5. Liquidation
6. Miss Cheevious
7. Driving Like You're Drunk & You're Stoned
8. Lady Of The Night
9. My Love Waits…
10. Back Seat Oracle ~ odyssey
11. Prophecy


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Mike Doughty



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