Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Week 20: "Widow's Walk" by The Architects

In week 19 of the “52 Songs in 52 Weeks” project I wrote about a song by Kings of Leon, a band whose members include three brothers. This week’s song is by another band featuring three brothers, Kansas City’s hardest rocking band, The Architects.

With Brandon Phillips on lead guitar, Zach Phillips on bass, and Adam Phillips on the drums (along with a guitar player who is not a blood relative) The Architects churn out in-your-face, authentic rock songs that swagger with punk and soul influences. The words on a concert tee shirt they sell tell it all. Those bold and controversial words read: “Stones > Beatles.”

Later on I plan to write about another Architects song, “Don’t Call it A Ghetto,” but this week I will write a few words a different song that also appears on their second album.

That song is “Widow’s Walk,” an up-tempo number that draws heavily from punk influences. The song begins with a guitar power-chord followed by the delivery of exposed, spitfire lyrics sung at a rapid pace. After the first four lines, the bass and guitar join in and the song takes off at a frantic pace only to slow down momentarily for the exposed lyrics of the chorus, “Oh, along the widow’s walk.”

At only two minutes and thirty seconds in length, “Widow’s Walk” is frenetic and power-packed. The melody and tempo-changes are extremely catchy, but not significantly catchier than many other songs by this band. The lyrics are barely comprehensible, which is just as well because they are not particularly great. (If you want to go looking for the lyrics, try scouring the band’s blog which can be found on their myspace page.)

So, what makes this song so special? After thinking about it, I am left with this insight. I find it curious that a band from the heart of Midwest would choose to title a song after an architectural feature of old houses in maritime communities. For those who do not know, a widow’s walk is a long balcony on the top level of a home that looks out on the ocean. It is a lookout, a place where women who husbands were sailors would keep watch, looking for signs of the return of ships from sea.

Punk music, and “Widow’s Walk” is certainly punk, has always claimed the role of sentinel, of watchdog. Just think of songs like “Take Warning” and “Caution” by Operation Ivy, “Warning” by Green Day (not to mention their entire American Idiot album), or, even, “All Quiet on the Eastern Front” by The Ramones. It seems that most every punk rock group has a song that casts themselves in the role of the vigilant sentry on the watch against social forces of ill. “Widow’s Walk” is perhaps the most creative metaphor for this role that I have encountered in punk music.

Besides “Widow’s Walk” and “Don’t Call It a Ghetto,” other songs by The Architects that I enjoy include, “Damn Sight Better” and “Black Guitar Kalashnikov” off their debut album, Keys to the Building, “Grace,” “Revenge,” and “Bury My Heart in Lebanon, MO,” off the Revenge album, and “Daddy Wore Black” and “Pills” off their latest release, Vice.