Dave, Leah and Brendan (photo
by Richard Bowditch)
On Wide Right’s second album, songwriter Leah Archibald continues to turn traditional rock songwriting on its head by offering an unusual perspective as a Buffalo-born mother of two who works, tends to her children, rocks and then wakes up the next day and repeats the cycle all over again. None of life’s details are too small to escape her sharp assessment; arguments with smug elementary school guidance counselors, telephone conversations overheard from the needlessly optimistic actor next door, internal dialogues concerning foxy front men of tedious bands and interminable visits from abominable houseguests a re all grist for her sharp songs about people who get drunk, get even and get by.
Garage-impresario Jim Diamond (The Sights, White Stripes, Dirtbombs) recorded “Sleeping on the Couch” at his legendary (and humid) Detroit studio, Ghetto Recorders. Diamond’s production provides a gritty setting for Archibald’s cast of rust belt characters: the schoolteacher who ill-advisedly bought beer for his female students (“Picture in the Paper”), an oblivious husband longing for a little female company out in his homemade garage clubhouse (“Dishrag”), the regrets of a woman who swapped a crappy service job in her hometown for a crappy service job in another city (“Laws of Gravity”) and the poignant reflection of a bewildered partner in the aftermath of a marital argument (“Sleeping on the Couch”). Songs range from infectious power pop (“Royanne”) to full-bodied rock (“I Don’t Care”) to a Glitteresque shout-along (“Buffalo Fight Song”), all woven together by Archibald’s strong, warm voice and smartass delivery and attitude. Supported by band mates Dave Rick on guitar (King Missile, Bongwater) and Brendan O’Malley on drums (Lovechild) Wide Right delivers Archibald’s songs with a propulsive beat and a searing Gibson/Marshall crunch. Wide Right is not afraid to be smart, and not afraid to rock out.
“Sleeping on the Couch” features guest appearances by Diamond as well as members of the Sights, Sirens, Come-ons and Dirtbombs. Wide Right’s self -titled full -length record received a truckload of praise, including an “A minus” in Robert Christgau’s Consumer Guide.