Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Thoughts on Cherlene AKA the Archer Soundtrack

Archer is one of those shows I always meant to watch but for a long time didn't. I can't tell you why. Probably because as a network FX is just starting to really gain traction for me. That's not to say that it's bad. I saw a few episodes of The Shield and Louis is pretty funny, but for the longest time I always saw the network as a place to get good reruns and catch a good flick on the cheap. Anyway, I've been watching Archer and it's a great show it has the non sequitor and timing of Sealab 2021 with better animation and I loved the hell out of Sealab.

So in the fifth season the writers got really bored and made some crazy left turns. One of which was having a character decide after being declared a rogue "spy" (incompetent secretary) that she wants to be a country western singer even though she's horrible and mentioned nothing about this "dream" for the last 50 or so episodes.

The other characters desperate to make the wailing stop and maybe pick up some quick cash implant her with a mind control chip to make her better (Though Cheryl was already rich and if your bringing in mind control chips into the equation why not just mind control her to give you her fortune... damn it stop thinking like Blofeld... or at all this is Archer, Miles.  Though it was Kriegar who did the implanting and Mr. "Bring back pyscho-cyborg Barry from space for a cool, no, kickass robot fight" would do that kind of thing just for the shits and giggles. Speaking of which all of Cheryl's "divaing" makes sense if he added that in just to drive everybody else nuts.)

Okay the point "Cherlene" released an album. Seriously the creators of the show put together a country music album ain't halfbad.

First off there is a  subtle "Hey this is country music by someone who mostly knows country music by watching movies" vibe to it, which is a canonical part of Archer's character. He basically sqees during the Burt Reynolds cameo. Which is another meta joke considering the mod/Cold War atmosphere of the show.

And don't get me started on the Smokey and the Bandit episode which he by the way orchestrated in universe so he could drive the "blocker" car.  

My point is that a couple of these songs are covers and the songs their covering make sense for the show. For instance the long running gag "Danger Zone's" cover worth it alone. They actually got Kenny Loggins to be their wing man. PHRASING!

Apart from the comedy angle the actual songs on album are great. "Swing Shift" has a great rhythm riff and I'm a sucker for those.  OUTLAW COUNTRY WOOO! Steady as the coming train and played right it'll hit you just as hard. This isn't your gussied up country. In universe the cast of the show, (except maybe Ray) aka the backup band mostly knows this music as the soundtrack to their movies the sort of flicks that take place in the backwoods with shootouts with a crooked sheriff coming to settle old scores involvin' his wife the hard way.

And I will lay any man out who says country ain't delta blues but with a fiddle and an ensemble. Maybe that's why I like it so much.

Same goes for rock except with an amp.

Okay so I'm a traditionalist and this album plays into that. Long live CBGB in all it's forms. (Too soon. Too soon. Though the Ramones were basically playing sped up Beachboy riffs and they were playing sped up Chuck Berry Riffs which were essentially old blues riffs sped up. And as for Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis, and Johnny Cash you could debate all day whether they were rock, country or blues. But I'll just settle with good music is good music.)

What makes the album work is that there is a sort of sincerity to it. Doing this didn't come down from some network head who wanted more publicity with everybody else pissed that it would take resources away from the show. Which actually sounds like a half decent episode plot (or this plot).

I would be remiss if I didn't say that the actual vocalist Jessy Lynn Martens sounds great.  She has a way just making all the songs work. Even if they are a joke for the show none of them feel like they were made with that in mind, furthering the image of a Charlene who's too crazy to realize the insanity of renting a painted tour bus for a public access gig. Same goes for Kevn Kinney who donated a lot of the songs on this thing.

You know there is an old bit where someone does something crazy straight. At first the obviousness of the joke makes it unfunny but then the sincerity and gusto makes it all the more hilarious. This is one of those, making the album great as both an extension of the show's humor and as an album.

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