GROWING UP, brothers Chris and Michael Cantino never quite managed to play in the same band. "When I was 14, I was this close to being a bassist," says Michael, who's now 24. "But Chris stole my bass to join some other band."
"We were always in bands, just never together," says Chris, 26. "But always playing the same scene in California, with the same people." "We actually got along pretty well," Michael says of any sibling rivalry. "Chris had joined his first band and they had a thing going for a while, so I never really had a stab at working with Chris other than showing him tapes that I was making."
"Yeah, we were definitely competitive," adds Chris of their upbringing in Romoland, California—a small town in Riverside County that he describes as "the very outer fringes of the suburbs. After that it's just desert... But Mike was more like a songwriter, experimental-type stuff, and I was just filling out the rhythm section. Finally we came up here"—the two brothers trekked up to Portland separately, a year or so apart from each other—"and put together the band we always wanted to have."
That band is Archers, and their full-throttle guitar rock is among the most exciting being made in this city right now. Their self-titled debut 7-inch is a four-song bombardment of speedy riffs, crashing drums, hollered vocals, and melodies stickier than chewed-up bubblegum. Opening track "Brussels Truffles" hurtles at supersonic speed, with the Cantinos' dueling guitars fighting for turf alongside Anthony Frey's nonstop drums. Brian Yoder's intently melodic bass winds a path through the din—all before a chorus of "ba-ba-ba's" pours sugar over a lopped-off 7/4 beat. On the flipside, "Radical Opinion" summons the hoarse, longing heartache of the Replacements through the taut wirework of Television. The Archers' flawless 7-inch brings to mind debuts like the Who's "I Can't Explain" or the Jam's "In the City," rekindling the rock and roll torch in quick, three-minute flashes.
The band didn't immediately take shape once both Cantino brothers found themselves in Portland, however. Archers came out of the ashes of Michael's previous project, Orange Jam, which evolved into Archers once Michael began adding players for the live show. Meanwhile, Chris also does duty in Saudade, whose delicately crystalline ambient music is the near polar opposite of Archers' triumphant clang. After a false start with a problematic drummer found through Craigslist—and here it should be noted that Frey, the band's current, high-functioning, and otherwise excellent drummer, was also found through Craigslist—Archers fully gelled once the Cantinos' old California pal Mikey Griffith came on board to play keys.
The band's debut hasn't gone unnoticed by British label Heavenly Records, who's putting out a vinyl release of "Brussels Truffles" backed with "Radical Opinion" at some point this winter. The band is also contributing to a forthcoming four-way split on local label Eggy Records, and they've just submitted a new batch of demos to Heavenly for a potential Archers full-length. The new songs are just as good—even the raw versions of "Everything All at Once" and "Evil City Music" already sound like classics.
"It's getting more complex and lyrical," says Chris of the new stuff. "I think that the sound and the lyrics are really going to inform our character as a band. People are going to get a better understanding of who we are. We have two full-lengths written already. We're kind of sitting on this material, so we just want to start getting some of it out."