Posted Feb 2nd, 2015 (12:00 pm) by Sean O'Leary

It's no secret that writing, recording, and performing music is tough. Doing all that for two bands while badly needing a hip replacement is miles tougher, and Derek Archambault pulled it off.

If Archambault's name rings a bell, it's because he also fronts new-school melodic hardcore band Defeater. Alcoa is a side project, whose music finally saw the light of day in 2013 with Bone & Marrow. They didn't truly come into the spotlight until 2014's crowdfunded Thank You EP, when Archambault's hip problems had become so bad that Defeater needed to cancel a slew of tour appearances. To finance its replacement, he turned to Pledgemusic, releasing the Thank You EP and some merch to people who contributed. The project succeeded, the replacement went well, and Alcoa's next album Parlour Tricks releases later this month.

Alcoa's alt-folk sound is a sharp contrast with Defeater's hardcore. Archambault cites Todd Rundgren, Bruce Springsteen, and The Clash as influences, striving for a lighter, storytelling style of songwriting that still has depth. "All Dolled Up," the lead single off Parlour Tricks highlights this, complete with jangly guitar riffs and a country feel. "Cab Rides & Cigarettes" off Bone & Marrow takes a more folk approach, telling the story of a man picking up a woman in a bar over a sparse, two-guitar arrangement.

Alcoa inevitably draws comparisons to Defeater, particularly the acoustic songs on Defeater's Travels and Empty Days & Sleepless Nights. There are similarities - the fascination with seedy bars and the concept that "Home ain't never home" run deep. But Alcoa's different style means the material resonates more fully. On songs like "I Don't Belong Here Or Anywhere," the lyrics about depression and dependency hit harder because there's no screams or pounding drums, just the confessional vocals and acoustic guitar. Archambault's songwriting makes you feel for the characters he creates and you can't help but be drawn in. You can stream "All Dolled Up," "Cab Rides & Cigarettes" and "I Don't Feel Welcome Here Or Anywhere" above, or pick them up on Bandcamp. Parlour Tricks drops February 24th via Bridge 9 Records.

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