"Wide Right + the Sirens
An impossibly foxy Detroit girl gang wearing knee high platform boots and flaming bell bottoms and skirts they design themselves, with hard soul-shout vocals and a harder bazooka-glam guitar buzz, the Sirens made last year's most stomping rock album. Like, imagine the Gore gore girls hopped up on Slade and the Sweet covering Suzi Quatro, Rocky Erickson, the Ikettes, and Gladys Knight. Brooklyn-via-Buffalo working-class heroes Wide Right, fronted by the wailing mom Leah Archibald, boast the best rock repertoire about Pete Best, hockey, couches, crushes and kids in the backseat known to man."
"Singer-guitarist Leah Archibald writes from the perspective of a loving mom
whose taste for simple pleasures -- beer and football, in particular -- combine
with her arty ambitions in songs whose well-plotted charms make them ideal pop
nuggets for consenting adults with a love of details and a sense of fun."
Wide Right, "Sleeping on the Couch" (Pop Top Records)
Brooklyn-based rock band Wide Right embodies all that is real about living in the Midwest, being a working mom and playing in a rock band. Lead by the sarcastic and smart Leah Archibald, the band's second album "Sleeping on the Couch" is chock-full of catchy power-pop songs about everything from complaining about your boss to teenage love. Archibald has a talent for taking relatable topics and turning them into melodic songs that you'll find yourself singing along to by the second listen. The album, which was recorded in Detroit at Jim Diamond's Ghetto Recorders, gets an injection of full on r-a-w-k with lead guitarist Dave Rick's screaming solos.
"Buffalo’s Wide Right plays garage rock that’s more working-class than stylish—a rare trait among all the bands grabbing for the golden garage ring these days. The trio’s recent Sleeping on the Couch (PopTop) is a solid, smart-not-ironic collection of totally rocking songs for grown-ups."
Friendly, leftist rock band, perfect for drinking in the kitchen while the kids pillow-fight
On the Wide Right website, Leah Archibald offers to cook dinner for every rock critic in the country. It’s the kind of just-folks gesture, both warm and sarcastic, this Brooklyn singer usually turns into a song. Wide Right’s homey, five-chord rock gets the big picture of working-for-a-living bohemian life. With a deadpan alto made to deliver witty comebacks, Archibald, 40, is a sharp-tongued spokesmodel for the growing demographic of rock moms. Like her spiritual mama Loretta Lynn, Archibald makes breakout music about daily life’s little confinements—fighting with the hubby, getting the kids to school, shlepping to a day job—and her power trio drive home the sharp lyrics with a jovial kick. It’s a simple pleasure, but satisfying. Not unlike a perfectly seasoned chop.
This Brooklyn-based band’s roots are in blue-collar Buffalo, and those roots come through loud and clear on their second album. Wide Right offer up no-frills, straight-up rock with an abundance of catchy hooks to drive home frontwoman Leah Archibald’s richly detailed songs of everyday working-class life. It’s fitting that the only cover is one of Loretta Lynn’s feistier songs. (Don Yates)
Wide Right’s Sleeping on the Couch was next and my mood was immediately improved in that lead person Leah Archibald’s got a fun, sassy-but-cool sting to her voice—I’ve actually been wondering how long it would take for Ann Wilson’s seventies vocal style to get a revival, actually—the band’s music is conventional enough three-piece rock that has a rough edge to it here and there (a bit early nineties, just) and there’s a cover of Loretta Lynn’s badass “The Pill” on it. And there’s not much more I will say about this album, because it’s one of those ones that you either like or hate or enjoy or ignore, but as I see it, Archibald peels off some fun solos and while she’s got an eye for good working stiff laments (“Laws of Gravity,” “Taking the Fifth”), the lyrics for “Junior High School Dream” absolutely goddamn rule in particular. Not to mention that “Blue Skies Ahead” might just be the first first-person female-sung hand-clap-laden rock song about a struggling actor doing gay porn assuring his mom on the phone that things are going to get better. Adult rock, all in all, without being, y’know, ‘adult rock.’ (And the older I get, the more important this distinction becomes.)
Music is not Leah Archibald's life. It can't be – the head of Wide Right has two kids, a stressful corporate managerial job in NYC and an overly sensitive Ph.D. husband who misplaces his shoes. Her band is a side project to the 8-to-6 grind. Still, she has managed two full-lengths in two years. On 2003's Wide Right, the songs raced forward on Rust Belt rage. Sleeping on the Couch, however, finds a limitless number of places for that anger to go.
It's got super catchy ooh-wee-ooh bridges and exuberant glam rock steals. The production runs toward a Bad Company-esque classic rock that emphasizes the spaces between sounds, all the better to set off the album's selling point: amazing country-fried stories.
Boy, does she pop off narratives like a seasoned Nashville pro. She razzes the Mister for sulking into the dishes; she has it out with her son's snooty guidance counselor; she lusts after her junior high school dream boy. And that's just the first three songs. A truly remarkable album.
There’s a reason that normally finicky rock scribes like Robert Christgau are issuing forth glowing salvos for Buffalo ex-pat Leah Archibald’s band, Wide Right. That reason is Archibald’s sharp and bold ability to tell the truth in song (be it grisly, comic or occasionally brutal). While the singer-songwriter hasn’t lived in Buffalo in quite some time, you’d never know it from the sounds on Wide Right’s new album. Throughout the disc’s dozen songs, the spirit of the QueenCity can be heard quite clearly in the songwriter’s lyrics and in the gritty and occasionally goofy stomp of the music. In fact, it’s not too hard to imagine hearing Archibald’s words being muttered in coffee shops (or shouted at bars) by other thirty-something moms who’d like to leave the troubles of home life behind and go out and have a real good time for a change. It’s a give-and-take dialogue; somehow Archibald’s word choices manage to present both sides of the arguments. Sleeping…gives us a fair dose of domestic mis-bliss (frustrations with the hubby and kids on songs like “Taking the Fifth” and “Sleeping on the Couch,” and a yearning for extra-marital activities on “Junior High School Dream”). Still, the writer’s technique lets the listener know that it’s a fantasy from reality and that the reality is still something precious. It would seem that Archibald is singing to a pretty rarefied fan base: moms who still like rock n roll, get blasted on beer and munch potato chips for dinner. Yet you certainly don’t have to fit those criteria to enjoy Wide Right’s music. The band’s other strengths can be found in the propulsive drumming of Brendan O’ Malley and simple but tasteful guitar playing of Dave Rick. Those elements add up to a direct rock sound that’s steeped in pop-punk and straight-forward rock n’ roll.
"Brooklyn-by-way-of-Buffalo singer-guitarist Leah Archibald splits her time between housewife-mom and rocker chick, and on her second Wide Right album the domestic vicissitudes of the former frequently provide lyric fodder for the latter. Accordingly, reviewers have been quick to single out tunes such as “Taking The Fifth,” in which a gal’s frustration at waking up day after day to a hapless spouse and unruly kids finally boils over and she literally takes the fifth, hitting the bar early and ordering up a bottle. But don’t worry; Wide Right’s no candidate for Mamapalooza (Housewives on Prozac, et al.). This is a tight-as-latex trio — Archibald, Brendan O’Malley (Lovechild), Dave Rick (Phantom Tollbooth, Bongwater) — assisted by an array of Detroit chums, among them producer Jim Diamond and members of the Sirens and Dirtbombs. And like true rock ’n’ roll underdogs, they come out swinging cut after cut: Blondiesque power-popper “Blue Skies Ahead,” glammy Gary Glitter homage “Buffalo Fight Song,” a New York Dolls-styled reworking of Loretta Lynn’s “The Pill.” In lusty garage rave-up “Junior High School Dream” Archibald and company even conjure up the ghost of the late, great Fanny. In fact, in my mind I picture Archibald, Joan Jett, and Fanny’s June and Jean Millington tossing back shots and leaning against some dive’s jukebox. Put another dime in, baby."
"Wide Right's Leah Archibald writes great songs about ordinary people seen through the eyes of an intelligent, hard-working woman without a lot of money in her jeans pockets.
That doesn't mean she has given up on living it up. On Wide Right's second album, "Sleeping On the Couch" (out last week on Poptop records), 39-year-old Archibald's semi-fictional females like to drink beer and see cute guys in bands play in bars -- when they're not arguing with their husbands or struggling with the kids.
The music of this Buffalo-to-Brooklyn, N.Y. outfit is crunchy bar-band rock. Think the MC5 circa "Back in the U.S.A." And Dave Rick's yowling guitar is pure Johnny Thunders on a horny barrelhouse version of Loretta Lynn's "The Pill."
Archibald is a gutsy singer and rhythm guitarist. Most important, she's a superb lyricist. Over some nifty Velvet Underground-style chord changes on "Royanne," she portrays a mother listening to advice from a clueless school counselor who urges her to stop working outside of the home. "Would his behavior improve if I couldn't pay the bills?" her narrator thinks to herself. On "Taking the Fifth," she's a mom calling a temporary strike: "I'm not a [expletive] waitress, I'm a mother and wife."
Lovely Detroit-soul organ adds emotional punch to the album's best song, the ballad "Laws of Gravity." A lifelong service industry worker begins by recounting how she got fired from her first job at a gas station at age 15 because she complained to the boss about mechanics hitting on her. Life hasn't improved much since: "You gotta work twice as hard to try to defy the laws of gravity," she concludes.
Every town in the U.S.A. should spawn a bar band this great. Good for you, Buffalo."
" With a mortgage in Brooklyn, a good job, and two kids, Leah Archibald is not going anywhere. Besides, she's already made her move; now she imagines an alternate reality in her native Buffalo so lovingly, she could almost trick herself into thinking that staying behind was an option. With Sleeping on the Couch (Poptop), Archibald's bar band once removed, Wide Right, dedicates itself to this conceptual project even more consciously than on its self-titled debut. "Dishrag" is the siren call of a spouse striving so mightily to make watching football in the garage seem as romantic as "Be My Baby" that it seduces the listener, if perhaps not the singer's mate. Yet songs like "Laws of Gravity" (working-class life sucks) bring Archibald back to earth, though even here she entrusts her blue-collar strivers with the spark of hope that Springsteen so often denies his these days. In fact, Archibald's balance between reality ("Royanne" is a mother's riposte to an opinionated guidance counselor) and fantasy ("Junior High School Dream" details Archibald's wandering eye) seems the very definition of sustainable rock and roll adulthood."
"Wide Right's lead singer Leah Archibald could be the daughter of Heart's Ann Wilson. She has a similar timbre to Wilson during her "Barracuda" period, and a similar penchant for hard-bitten hard rock, lady-style. But Wide Right's second album, Sleeping on the Couch, is dominated by lyrical motifs foreign to most indie rock: While most of Archibald's contemporaries are singing about broken hearts and mushroom trips, Archibald sings about the working class life in her hometown of Buffalo, NY, as well as being a single mother, struggling to pay bills, and flattened peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches.
The sometimes-downtrodden lyrics could come off as attempting to elicit pity, but Archibald's style is so matter-of-fact and often funny that the listener wouldn't dare feel sorry for her. It makes sense that Archibald would cover songs by another no-nonsense woman: The coal miner's daughter herself, Loretta Lynn. Wide Right covers Lynn's 1975 classic ode to contraception, "The Pill." "Mini skirts and hot pants / And a few little fancy frills, " Archibald sings with AC-DC-worthy verve, "I'm making up for all those years 'cause now I got the pill."
Though Archibald, along with Dave Rick on guitar and Brendan O'Malley on drums, has relocated from the rust belt of Buffalo to Brooklyn, the city is still close to her heart. A high point of Sleeping on the Couch is "Junior High School Dream," where Archibald describes her type as a "Midwestern guy who plays guitar and wears his hair in his eyes," and says, "I'm thirty-seven going on thirteen / He's my junior high school dream." Sleeping on the Couch comes out on Brooklyn's Pop Top records on June 14th.."
" *WIDE RIGHT: One of the more winsome singer-guitarists around is this rocking bar band's chatty, no-nonsense frontwoman, Leah Archibald. This Buffalo transplant makes life as a musician mom look easy while penning sometimes scathing, shrewd domestic portraits and observant odes to rust-belt culture."
"Sleeping on the Couch kicks off with a rock and roll genderfuck unlike any other. Keyed to a jumpy handclap chorus, it's called "Dishrag," and since a woman is singing, it leaves open the question of who's stuck in the kitchen and who's in front of the tube watching the Bills with romantic plans for later—probably still some jerk of a husband, only as the album goes on it's the wife who hates her boss and eyes the guitarist and won't say who's she been with. Of course, it's also the wife who got hit on and then fired at the gas station at 15 and was late to work yesterday dealing with her kid's "issues." And it's also the wife who looks askance at two academic wastrels and an out-of-work actor in a purple Speedo making excuses to his mother on the phone. You want a formal analogy, King Missile isn't altogether crazy—only there's nothing in the band's firm settings or Archibald's straightforward tone of voice that hints at John S. Hall's hip disdain. Not that Archibald is without disdain of her own—far from it. She's angry. But she keeps it under control and makes it sound like common sense. That's her musical achievement."
from the feature-length interview with Wide Right's Leah Archibald
"it doesn't aspire to the barroom boogie in which most straight-ups subsume their
generic songwriting—it's sparer, the better to set off the words. But if songwriting means catchy tunes supporting well-observed lyrics with a p.o.v., as opposed to whatever formal tweaks indie aesthetes are into, then Wide Right are a band after Andy Shernoff's heart. No wonder he bought their eponymous 2003 debut on Poptop, where Archibald serves as president, production supervisor, and mail clerk."
"they take on the sensible candor and irrefutable force of a good talking-to
from, I don't know, Molly Ivins or Studs Terkel—socked home by, I don't know, Bachman-Turner Overdrive."
" Brooklyn foursome Wide Right, fronted by a wailing thirtysomething mother of
two, specialize in meat-and-potatoes, rust-belt pop-rock about hockey, Pete
Best, and (mostly) being a mom in Buffalo. Highlights on their very good
forthcoming sophomore album include a Loretta Lynn cover about birth control, a
sad ballad where one spouse sleeps on the couch, a Tattoo You-ripping
remembrance of junior-high crushes, and a glam shout about how Buffalo isn't
"Irrefutably charming, Wide Right's unfussy "rock 'n' roll fueled by cheap beer and Gibson guitars" motto fails to disclose that the Brooklyn-via-Buffalo trio is fronted by a sports-loving, working mother, Leah Archibald, who, on the band's self-titled debut (Pop Top) and forthcoming "Sleeping on the Couch," spits out Rust Belt tales about things such as industrial decline, with a weary intelligence and vodka-smeared vigor that can only be gleaned from a life spent east of the Mississippi. Consider yourself warned."
Wide Right's Leah Archibald not only fronts the best meat-and-potatoes
rock band today (Drive-By Truckers are more grits-and-gravy),
but the Buffalo native's one of the few Brooklynites honest and
empathetic enough to remember where she came from."
"Wide Right, led
by Leah Archibald, moves forward a few years. It uses the meat-and-potatoes
riffs of bands like Aerosmith and AC/DC to carry the tales of
a hard-headed working mom who just happens to lead a rock band."
fairly glowered at the strip malls and interstates of Akron in
"My City Was Gone," but Leah Archibald looks back on
her own dying rust-belt burg, Buffalo, with far more conflicted
feelings. On Wide Right (Poptop), the debut full-length from her
band of the same name, Archibald cruises one more time past the
lawn ornaments in "Mary on the Half Shell" and downs
a can of Genesee in "Firemen's Fair," seeing all the
details she'd have overlooked or at the very least cared less
about had she stuck around. If the typical week of snow shovels,
quarter drafts, hockey, and bowling she outlines on "Rust
Belt Girl" ("Used to try to fight it / Now I assume
my rightful place in the world") sounds like an all right
life, "Pete Best," which compares the fate of the booted
Beatle to a town where "crumbling buildings dirty waterways
defeated people wither and decay," makes it clear why Archibald
now lives in Brooklyn. She's got a full-throated classic-rock
voice, with a hint of sly menace that makes her "Kryptonite"
more potent than 3 Doors Down's and "Vincent Gallo,"
which slams the Buffalo '66 auteur as a camera hog, sound like
just deserts rather than sour grapes. Her bandmates, too, play
at being more generic than they are, but they can't fool me--the
meat-and-potatoes bar band they'd like to pass themselves off
as wouldn't have a drummer as scary as Brendan O'Malley or a guitarist
like Dave Rick, whose opening solo on "Pete Best" takes
off like a wicked mix of "Freebird" and "Search
music is down and dirty hard rock that revolves around the working
class lifestyle. Recorded by Jim Diamond (who has worked with
Detroit garage rockersThe Dirtbombs, The White Stripes, The Come
Ons, and The Witches), the album is full of consistently solid,
guitar-driven songs that are delivered with a Joan Jett-like snarl.
Harmonies and handclaps add pizzazz to catchy songs like "Pete
Best," "Krytonite," "Keeping the Peace,"
and "400 Miles."...Leah Archibald, the driving force
behind Wide Right, writes volatile lyrics that both embrace and
criticize her Buffalo and Brooklyn roots. She salutes everything
from the local fireman's fair to Thursday night bowling, and is
downright territorial when it comes to her neighborhood dive bar.
She rejects cosmopolitan artificiality and lambastes Buffalonian
Vincent Gallo for being an overrated sellout. However, she also
wrestles with the opposite extremity -- the fear of becoming one
of the static natives who are wasting away in the rust belt. Fortunately,
Archibald is thriving somewhere in between, as a mother and as
the leader of an exceptional rock band with a bright future."
(Karen Choy, October 2003)
the New York Times:
" ... a band rooted in straightforward 1970's rock but led
by Leah Archibald, whose perspective as an adult working women
is a long way from the swaggering bad boys whose music she loves."
On January 27, 1991,
with eight seconds remaining in the game, Scott Norwood’s
47-yard field goal drifted wide right, and the Buffalo Bills lost
the Super Bowl by one point, crushing the hopes of their downtrodden
hometown. Wide Right, a lively rock quartet named for Norwood’s
gaffe, identify unromantically with losers: They also name a song
after Pete Best, the Beatles’ original, discarded drummer,
rock’s consummate also-ran. In her riled, burlap voice,
Buffalo-born songwriter Leah Archibald, a mother of two, describes
the confines of artsy, marginal adult life in a blue-collar city:
Booze appears often as a diversion, so do bowling teams and hockey
(twice). She’s a true original, equally resentful of slumming
yuppies, a complaining downstairs neighbor and hometown actor
Vincent Gallo, whom she accuses of heresy: making a key factual
error about the Bills in his film Buffalo 66.
A self-proclaimed rust
belt girl, Leah Archibald never really left Buffalo, even if her
home address now reads Brooklyn. It’s a fact that she accepts
with equal parts anger on songs like “Pete Best” (about
the friends trapped in her hometown) and resignation, as found
in the determination to find a good time and barbequed chicken
at the “Firemen’s Fair”. But if you think that
makes her music resigned (angry’s another story), think
again. While Archibald ultimately farts artiness in a lawn-kitsch
town, her guitar-bass-drums lineup smells like beer and pretzels
at 1 am rather than meat and potatoes at 6 pm. Songs like the
self explanatory “Go To Hell” and the you-can-go-home-again
monument “400 Miles” rock right past indie’s
attitude comas and never once look back to the salad days of alt-rock.
And if you think that means her Buffalo stance offers up no smarts,
well, how many songwriters could give Vincent Gallo his due for
his mugging vanity project Buffalo 66 and prove themselves one
helluva film critic in the process? And on “Another Way”
Archibald has more to say about sexuality than is dreamt of in
the teaches of Peaches. She’s more than friends, less than
lovers with her gay buddy. But what will ultimately force a definition
of their relationship is that at 4:30 am., she’s up with
her son and he’s still at the bar.
Robert Christgau's Consumer Guide, Village Voice:
" Poptop as in
beer, not music. Leah Archibald runs a rock band, Jim, as down-the-middle
as Mellencamp or the Iron City Houserockers. Straight-speaking
voice-guitar-bass-drums is her native language, so ingrained she'd
fit right in on a stoner comp if she had a touch of flash. But
Wide Right don't or can't preen. They serve up none of the virtuoso
macho that make down-the-middle rock fans feel better about their
prospects. Some longhaired bozo vaunting his wanderlust over these
arrangements would be worse than a bore. Archibald gets over by
singing as who she is: a Rust Belt mom who rocks in her spare
time and writes fierce breakup songs to a fickle drummer and a
jerk at work. She appreciates the simple things. Foremost among
them is this generic music that when you think about it is unique
THE members of Brooklyn
band Wide Right have chosen to express their collective disdain
for "Brown Bunny" director Vincent Gallo in the form
of a song. The lyrics go: "Vincent Gallo was his name / stuck
his face in every single frame / the impact of your film was tarnished
/ too many images of you / you captured the depression / of a
loser town on a winter morn / the ensemble cast still couldn't
save us / from endless close-ups of your pores." "I'm
from Buffalo," lead singer Leah Archibald told PAGE SIX's
Elizabeth Spiers. "Have you seen 'Buffalo 66?' It would have
been so much better without the sheer omnipresence of [Gallo's]
face and the constant references to the size of his 'manhood.'
the Village Voice:
Right's Buffalo-gal (now Brooklynite) mommy-rocker Leah Archibald
cranks out big-guitar screamers about active-verb identity: shoveling
your car out of the snow ("Rust Belt Girl"), checking
out religious statuary ("Mary on the Half Shell"), and
confronting hipsters who want your cool little hangout for their
Ketel One cocktail spot ("Expensive"). With a voice
that swings from Astbury to Jett, the adorable Archibald summons
a storm on the stop chorus of the I'm-outta-here rager "Pete
Best," and still essays nuanced topics like friendship-without-label
("If I weren't married and you weren't gay/ We'll just have
to find another way") and a rock-n-roll road trip complete
with parenting ("The kids will sleep for the whole time/
grownup music for the enti-yer ride!"). Evoking nostalgia
for that "Fireman's Fair," where we'd "hang out
in the beer tent" and win some goldfish, she leaves no doubt
that we really can't go back"
(Laura Sinagra, (Ma) Trix
of the Trade-Quirking Girls, July 2, 2003)
Warning: It takes less than three minutes to fall in
love with Leah Archibald, vocalist with Brooklyn power-pop quartet
Wide Right. "Pete Best", a sugary slice of guitar rock
heaven, clocks in at a mere 2:59, but by the time you hear Archibald's
warm, sultry voice wrapping itself around the song's chorus--you're
+WIDE RIGHT :
Attack of the 50-Foot Frontwomen! Make room for the
BellRays' Lisa Kekaula and Wide Right's Leah Archibald, two brassy,
loudmouthed ladies leading their riff-powered armies into the
fray. The BellRays are a veteran "maximum rock-'n'-soul"
(their words) outfit currently enjoying well-deserved hype in
the U.K. Wide Right, along with the Stone Coyotes, are pioneers
of a burgeoning scene of middle-aged moms and dads playing fierce
bar-band rock. It's gonna be hugeyou heard it here first.
With EDP. TUESDAY AT 8:30, Southpaw, 125 Fifth Avenue,
Time Out New York:
"Wide Right plays garage rock that has a bit more working-class
rock than style to it--a rare trait among all the bands grabbing
for the golden garage ring these days."
"Rock and Roll fueled by cheap beer and Gibson guitars"
and a mother of two born "Rust Belt Girl." On this web-and-gig
EP, Leah Archibald claims not indie Buffalo music maker Ani DiFranco
but working-class Buffalo actor-musician-painter-architect-handyman-j.d.
"Vincent Gallo." She hopes she doesn't get stuck in
her hometown like "Pete Best." And nevertheless produces
a song about the road back, a joyous thing even when she stops
in Binghamton so the kids can pee. A MINUS