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
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.
1. Little Leopard
2. Nancy's Serenade
3. Ode To A Shoe Salesman
4. Back Seat Oracle ~ monologue
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
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