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Thursday, 21 November 2013 10:18

The Architects design 'Border Wars' for your eyes and ears

The Architects design 'Border Wars' for your eyes and ears facebook.com/pages/THE-ARCHITECTS/30004453505
Written by Michael Kuelker
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The Architects' new EP "Border Wars" opens with the energy and might of a boxer who’s suddenly on the verge of scoring a spectacular, first-round knockout in a championship fight. And it’s as close to perfect as rock 'n' roll gets for me in 2013.

The hard-rock band from Kansas City, Mo., returns to St. Louis on November 23 with a headline performance at the Demo; also on the bill are BaldEagleMountain, the Difference Engine and the Ruthless.

"Peter Fonda," the opening cut from the "Border Wars" EP, is a furious headrush of a song lasting not quite two and a half minutes in which Brandon Phillips, with guts and grain in his voice, declaims on the subject of his supreme bad-assedness:

Men like me men like me men like how I said
we're born we burn fast and then we're dead
men like me men like me what I said again
you can't touch you can't try you just can't win
men like me men like me what I'm talkin bout
we're like blood we leave stains we don't wash out

Then the chorus hits and the song becomes something else. "I'm Peter Fonda," Phillips wails as the rhythm comes to a crest, "I'm Steve McQueeeeeeen ... I was born for these boots if you know what I mean."

Ordinarily you don't own my ears with lines like "I was born for these boots if you know what I mean," but this works because we are now entering the realm of myth. Because the Architects are racing the motor with a Clash-like torque and the song is summoning the thrill of movie icons in their prime (Fonda the countercultural hipster, McQueen the prison escapee) whose dangerous and beautiful rebellion have become part of our lives, our cultural memory.

Along with Phillips (lead vocals, guitar) in the Architects are his brothers Zach (bass, vocals) and Adam Phillips (drums) and Keenan Nichols (guitar, vocals). Frank Iero of My Chemical Romance is subbing right now for Zach Phillips, on hiatus due to health issues.

Last July the band inaugurated a music-and-zine series called "Border Wars," written by Brandon Phillips and illustrated by Mallory Dorn. Each volume will contain six songs and a comic. Four issues are to come and I haven't finished Part 1, so it's way too soon for me to summarize, but by the look of things, we're in for a tense, bloody contemporary southern noir.

Part I opens in prison with a transvestite death row inmate surrounded by priest and staff; then we are in west Texas with Tom & Josie, who strike me as an odd and surely doomed couple. The graphics do not aim at illustrating song one, song two, etc. Each thing, music and comic, stands on its own.

And the EP is very solid, with meaty hooks embedded from song to song, no silence in between. I'll be following the series on KDHX.org as it unfolds.

I had to tell you first about "Peter Fonda," which hit like an icepick in the forehead but I like it.

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