Nathan Archer's Sound Advice 

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Nathan Archer is a Texas transplant who moved to Colorado Springs in 2006. In addition to being the primary singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist in Rough Age, he has performed with Sugar Hi-5, Vanilla Blue and a series of ephemeral tribute bands. Tell him you like his dog, he says, and he'll most likely give you a free CD. We caught up with him recently to talk about some of his favorite recordings.

Essential Saturday night listening: "Mess Your Hair Up" by White Denim. White Denim always stays within arm's reach of the blues, but this one starts there and gets very, very lost. It swerves into this unhinged breakdown full of fuzzed-out bass, organ and piles of unidentifiable percussion, and makes me want to enroll in a class to skip.

Essential Sunday morning listening: Edge of the Sun by Calexico. Calexico is always beautiful and often fun, but Edge of the Sun is just unfair. It's full of cameos by Carla Morrison, Neko Case, Sam Beam (Iron & Wine) and on and on. It's a great mash-up of salsa, cumbia, indie-rock, alt-country and surf. The everything-but-the-kitchen-sink instrumentation is probably going to ruin a lot of other people's records (at least mine) for years to come, because nobody else can execute it this well.

First record I bought with my own money: After I got a stereo in maybe sixth or seventh grade, I put my allowance into the Columbia House CD club. Most of the CDs I picked were hot garbage — I'm looking at you, Aerosmith — but I still love and listen to Kerosene Hat by Cracker. It's got great writing, great guitar playing and songs I just want to yell along to in the car. Actually, I lied. I have no need to listen to it, because every note has been seared into my mind.

"Wish I'd written that" song: I just discovered the meaning behind Nick Cave's "Tupelo." I had always loved the song, but thought it was just Cave's trademark apocalyptic creepiness over a chugging machine-like rhythm. It's actually about Elvis Presley's stillborn identical twin, the catastrophic tornadoes that hit Elvis' hometown, references to "The King is Born in Tupelo" and, yes, a generous helping of apocalyptic creepiness.

"Wish I could unhear that" song: "Copacabana" by Barry Manilow. It takes a special kind of bastard to make a song about a murder in a salsa club un-sexy.

My latest online discovery: "Pipe Bomb" by Joe Kopel. I tend to be pretty accepting when our benevolent and merciful streaming demons tell me I'll like something. They were right about this one: "There is a mansion on the hill / There is a faith around the world / There is a hope in every heart / There is a pipe bomb in your car."

Artist more people should know about: Joseph Arthur. I saw him open for Afghan Whigs in 2014 and he stole the show, even without a band. His album The Ballad of Boogie Christ has the perfect balance of humor and heart, with songs about hustlers and junkies and salvation, with callbacks to all kinds of classic sounds. He's possibly my biggest songwriting idol at the moment. He ties the intimate to the universal and the profane to the divine, and makes it feel like the most natural thing in the world.

Guilty pleasure: The Scorpions. Anything that pure, that exaggerated, I can't help love and I can't help make fun of. The operatic vocals, the old-school metal riffs, the bizarre semi-fluent-English lyrics. Ach ja, Rudy Schenker, I'm still loving you.


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