Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Archie Powell And The Exports spit venom at the industry on “Only So Much You Can Do”

In Hear This, A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well—some inspired by a weekly theme and some not, but always songs worth hearing.

Podcast fans are plenty familiar with bumper music. Some shows, like Pop Culture Happy Hour, use made-for-them music like the kicky sounds of Producer Emeritus Mike Katzif’s band Hello Come In, but many others take listener suggestions or consult recent releases for interstitial tracks. One of the most reliably entertaining podcasts for music highlights is Chicago’s Filmspotting, which frequently features music either regarded as the best of the year or by some up-and-coming talent. On an episode this spring, the show put the spotlight on Archie Powell And The Exports, a Chicago band that deserves more airplay.


“Only So Much You Can Do,” the defiantly thunderous final punch to the group’s second album Great Ideas In Action, embodies the struggles of a working band while simultaneously jettisoning those troubles in favor of a bright tone and jumpy beat. It follows in the long tradition of upbeat rock songs that denigrate the industry, like The Format’s “The Compromise.” As Powell screams in the chorus: “You need some kind of plan / You need work on the van / You need merch for the stand / You need help with your brand / And it’s more than a fella can stand!” It’s a blasé lament that there’s “only so much you can do” to become successful when you just want to focus on the music, but the song is so catchy that it engenders a positive attitude even while expressing the often-hopeless outlook of a journeyman rocker.

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