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Archive for the ‘Pinegrove’ Category

[CANCELLED: April 28, 2017] Pinegrove

I saw Pinegrove at the First Unitarian Church in Philly.  The venue was kind of fun, although I have basically decided that I will not ever go to another show there (despite THREE bands that I like playing there in coming months).  My takeaway from the venue is that if it’s at all crowded, it’s not worth going.

But I really enjoyed the Pinegrove show.  And I was super excited to see them twice more for the end of the year–tonight at Union Transfer and Starland Ballroom.  Kind of unreasonably excited, actually, especially the Starland show, because one of my new favorite up and coming Jersey bands Fire is Motion were going to open for them.

The openers were

Saintseneca, Adult Mom at Union Transfer

Forth Wanderers, Fire is Motion at Starland Ballroom

And then, out of the blue (at least to me), the band cancelled the tour.  This is now the third (and fourth) show this year that has been cancelled on me.  Oh well, I’m glad that problems like this come out and I hope that all involved get the help they need.  But because I’m selfish, I just wish that they would be revealed a few days after my show instead of before.

Official statement (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: PINEGROVE-“Intrepid” (2017).

Pinegrove frontman Evan Stephens Hall just announced that, because of indiscretions, he was cancelling the band’s winter tour.  I had tickets to two of these shows, so that’s certainly a bummer.

I can only hope that whatever the details of his trouble, he can work it out amiably, get the help he needs and get back on the road in a better place.

Before this all happened, the band released their first new single since Cardinal took off.  “Intrepid” opens with a quietly strummed guitar and Hall singing quietly, including an unexpected falsetto note.  The song threatens to get big and loud but then seems like it might just end.

But after a minute and a half the rocking guitars and backing vocals come in and the song lifts off.  It strikes me as far less catchy than anything they’ve done so far, but it feels a lot more complex, as well.

The end of the song drops in volume, with one more little rocking guitar part before it fades out quietly with the same part that sounded like the end earlier.

It’s really well crafted.

[READ: May 7, 2017] Dark Shadows

This fourth book is once again Illustrated by Stephen Gilpin.  It also has an introduction by J.J. the search and rescue dog whose current civilian job is to look after the Chicken Squad.  I would love to see what the humans think of these chickens acting this way, I think that would be a very funny insight.  But maybe it’s best if it’s left unknown.

The family, including J.J. and the chickens are in the car going to a farm to “See things you’ve never seen before.”  Sugar says she has seen everything there is to see.  J.J. counters that she has never been out of the backyard.

Their mom, Moosh, explains that this will be a family reunion–they’ll meet all of their aunts, uncle and cousins.  And when they arrives there are hundreds and everyone expects them to lean all of their cousins’ names. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: FIRE IS MOTION-Days 1-7 (2014), Demos (2014), Flowers in Kawameeh Park (2017).

Fire in Motion is more or less the project of Adrian Amador.  But he had a full band when they opened for Public Service Broadcasting.  I got a copy of their CD at the show (which you can stream or download here).

The first 7 songs were done with this template:

I decided to write and record a song every day for an entire month using no pre-written material. Around the third day, I realized just how overly ambitious this idea was

“Day 1” has nice ringing guitars and some great backing vocals.  There’s drums on this song too. (Ambitious first day).
“Day 2” is one of the most exciting songs here.  The riff is fantastic in this slow version (Live they played it faster), but the way the guitar echoes is really lovely. When more guitars get layered on top, it’s really quite something.
“Day 3” is an acoustic ballad.  Simple guitars with a falsetto note in the vocals that keeps it interesting.  It’s just over a minute, but when the clapping comes in around 45 seconds it feels like it could be developed into a really full song.
“Day 4” is a delicate acoustic ballad with some pretty overdubbed guitars and vocals.  This could also be expanded into something lovely.
“Day 5” Again, the overdubbed guitars are lovely and the vocal melody on top shows another interesting start to a song.
“Day 6” In the spirit of “Day 2,” this has a slow guitar melody that unwinds as the vocals sing a slightly different melody.  This song could use an interesting guitar line on top, like in “Day 2” but otherwise its very promising.
“Day 7” has an organ sound for some diversity and the female and male vocals offer nice harmonizing again.

The demos are a bit more complete sounding but still sound like demos, of course.

“How Long to Get Home” is the cleanest sounding song so far.  It has that wonderful echoed main guitar and several different pretty guitar lines.  I love the way this built from a quiet song with some big drums and backing vocals.  This song sounded great live.

“Ringside” sounds more like a demo.  It has plucked guitar sound and deep vocals.  The song is spare at the start but when it gets to a bout a minute in, more instrumentation and percussion is added and the song feels really full.  The harmonics near the end are rally a nice touch and the kind of distantly screamed vocals add a sense of urgency.

“Smile It Makes This Easier” has an upbeat melody on acoustic guitar (with a nice little riff) and the  harmonies (both high and low ) are nice addition.

I’d love to hear any of these songs fleshed out and I wonder what is on their forthcoming CD.

“Flowers in Kawameeh Park” is a single that is not going to on the record and is only available here.  It is the most full-sounding of the bunch with vocals from Avery Salermo and Adrian Amador (who plays everything else but the horns).  The quiet middle section with the great backing vocals leads to a large crashing section.  The horns make the song get bigger and bigger until the dramatic buzzy ending.

It’s really cool to listen to these songs in order and hear the band develop.  They are going to be opening for Pinegrove in late December.  I’m looking forward to that show and the CD.

[READ: August 2, 2016] Amulet: Firelight

Kibuishi has stated that there will be nine books in this series.  This is number seven and it was just released this year, so it will be a pretty long time (I suspect) before books 8 and 9 come out. Which is a real shame because, although the story has been good so far, this book was hugely exciting.

It opens with Emily and her father (!) hiking.  He gives her some advice which I have to wonder if it is true–gently push yourself away from the rock…we’re at enough of an angle that it will give you leverage.  Holding the surface tight is only going to make you slide.  Sounds like it should work.  And it also might be a good theme of the book–push away rather than grabbing tighter for your safety

But Emily realizes it is only a dream (not even a memory and soon it is gone).

She is actually still on the ship with Enzo and they are pulling into a station to hope for refuelling. The station seems empty, although it is full of memories.  As they explore, they discover that they are already on Algos Island –their intended destination (which was not an actual island after all).

But before they can secure the ship, they are boarded and a fight ensues–little Dagno even manages to help out.  It turns out the invader is Galiban–the elf from earlier in the story who stole everyone’s memories.  They secure him and he reveals that he has been saving all of the memories he stole in an underground ship.

And that’s when Galiban lays a tough truth on everyone–the stonekeepers were chosen for their weakness not their strength.  He is quite certain that Emily is being used against her will.  And while he hated the stonekeepers for the horrible things they did to his home, he realizes it was not their fault-they couldn’t control it.

And then we flash to Navin and his friends.  They are trying to get to Valcor but they are still in those giant rumbling robot suits.  They can’t earn enough money to book a ride to Frontera, so they get jobs working on the ship–they are the waitstaff (and they are terrible).  And worse yet they are spotted by Elven solders.

But it turns out that soldiers are in disguise, they were sent by Riva and she tells them that there are bounty hunters here looking for them.  The “soldiers” are Loni and Roni and they are going to fly Navin and friends to safety.

Back on the underwater memory ship, Galivan shows Emily and Trellis where the memories are stored.  This leads them to a memory that Trellis needs to see–the one where he learns that his father has been taken over by the voice.  And that the shadows have really overtaken their people.  That memory was clouded so he would forget it.

Then two exciting thing happen at once. They are detected in their underwater location and the bad guys come to attack them.  And Emily chooses a path (against Trellis’ wishes) which might be an escape but turns out to be actually another memory.

And this memory is of someone who Emily doesn’t recognize.  But he turns out to be someone who is instrumental in the accident that killed her father (it’s an intense sequence to be sure).  But in this memory she uses her power to rescue her family (including her self).  And as the memory concludes, her father is getting Riled up about the guy who caused the accident and the says he’ll make him pay.  Which means that Emily has given up control over the stone.  And that can’t be good for anyone.

While things are going very badly for Emily, things are going pretty well for Navin.  The crew lands on Frontera.  And while the landing area looks pretty run down we soon learn that Frontera has served as an underground base for the resistance–they have another base in the planet’s atmosphere (and they have a very cool-looking ship to take them there).  So while one sibling is taking control, the other one is losing control.

How can  wait a year for book 8?  [Word has it Book 8 will come out in 2018].

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[ATTENDED: September 12, 2017] Fire is Motion

A few days before the Public Service Broadcasting show, I saw that a local NJ band (based in Union), Fire is Motion, was set to open for them.  I went to their bandcamp site and really liked what I heard.  I wrote to the band to see if they were going to be bringing any merch to the show, and Adrian wrote back that they were and to thank me for listening.

I was looking forward to seeing them, but when I arrived at like 8:05, they had already started–who knows how many songs I missed.  Such punctuality in rock!

But the remaining four or five songs were really good–bigger and more complex than their recorded sound. And the band sounded really tight. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: PINEGROVE-Live at the Newport Folk Festival (July 30, 2017).

Every year, NPR goes to the Newport Folk Festival so we don’t have to.  A little while afterwards, they post some streams of the shows (you used to be able to download them, but now it’s just a stream).  Here’s a link to the Pinegrove set; stream it while it’s still active.

I was pretty excited to hear what Pinegrove did at a big venue like this.  And, true to form, they sound great and are kind and generous to the people helping them out as well as all the fans who are there: “thanks for taking a chance on us.”

What’s particularly fun about Pinegrove is that their songs are mostly pretty short–but they feel fully complete.  But that means you can get 11 songs in a 45 minute set.

The band is in the process of writing and recording new music but this set is all older stuff (1/2 from Cardinal and the rest older).  But this is such a clear recording (with occasionally pops from the bass), that it’s great to be able to hear these songs live and to hear what they do differently with them.

The first song, “Old Friends,” Evan Stephens Hall seems a little less voice-cracking than usual (as if he’s trying to sing pretty for the Festival), but when he gets into the middle of “Aphasia” he sings “But if I don’t have you by me then I’ll go underground” with reckless abandon and the crowd goes nuts.

To me the most notable difference in these songs is the louder harmony vocals of Nandi Rose Plunkett.  And they sound terrific (Plunkett has her own band Half Waif who I’ve been interested in seeing, although i hope it doesn’t distract her from Pinegrove).

They run through several of the songs and they all sound great–the band really transcends when they play live. (and the rabid fans certainly help).

He introduces the band and has a problem getting Plunkett’s name out (I’ve got an avocado in my mouth).  Then he runs through everyone else: Samuel Skinner on guitar, Joshua Fairbanks Marre on the guitar and vocals, Adan Carlo on the bass guitar, Zachary Levine on the drum kit and vocals (he gets a big response).  And then they introduce Lincoln their newly acquired trusty stuffed sloth.

They dedicate “Angelina” to Lincoln, (he ends by saying “just a tiny little song”)

Okay we’re gonna quickly play two more songs.  After a quick “The Metronome” Hall introduces the final song by saying

Most of these songs are about love whether it be romantic, platonic, or familial and when they began they were about how to love the people we knew the best we could, but a more important initiative is loving the people we don’t know as well as we can.  It’s a localized sentiment but also a very public sentiment.

This works as a wonderful introduction to “New Friends” which sounds tremendous with all of the harmony vocals firing on all cylinders.

[READ: June 20, 2017] “Brush Clearing with the Teen-Age Boys in Arkansas”

This issue has a section of essays called “On the Job,” with essays about working written by several different authors.

Richard Ford writes of working in the summer of 1967.  He worked for the Neighborhood Youth Corps in Little Rock.  It was not a job he wanted, just one he could get.  He had always had jobs and wasn’t about to not have one during the summer while living with his mother.

So he enrolled in this program which “summons images of clean cut boys standing at attention, but was really about low income (black) kids getting work experience.”  And he realizes now it was designed to keep them in school and out of the State’s hair. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: June 1, 2017] Kevin Devine

I had heard of Kevin Devine–and his Goddamn Band–but hadn’t actually heard his music.  I knew that he recently toured with Pinegrove as support–a show I wish I’d seen!  But here he was solo.

Devine sang a dozen or so songs.  Each one was catchy and not based on simple chord sequences.  But mostly the focus was on the words.  And I really liked his delivery–powerful and always spot on.  It worked perfectly for a solo acoustic set but i could see it working just as well for a rocking band.

I can’t find a setlist on line, and I don’t know the names of many of his songs, so I don’t have much more to fill in here.

I recall him saying that one of the songs was the title rack of his new album Instigator.  I know he also played at least one song from his band Bad Books. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: PINEGROVE-Tiny Desk Concert #582 (December 2, 2016).

I recently saw Pinegrove live and it was a great experience.  Although it was only a few months after this Tiny Desk Concert, it’s pretty amazing how different the band sounded during these two shows.

Pinegrove are sometimes referred to as having a country flair.  And they certainly do here (they really didn’t when I saw them–they rocked pretty loud and hard).  For this set, the guitar is often slide, the banjo is prominent and the songs are quieter.

But rather than countryside (which would not have attracted me at all), I like the term that the blurb uses:

The New Jersey group’s sound feels fresh and scrappy at the same time.

Evan Stephens Hall and drummer Zack Levine, who’ve been friends since they were 7, form the core of Pinegrove: Evan Stephens Hall (vocals, guitar); Nandi Rose Plunkett (keyboard, vocals); Zack Levine (drums, vocals); Adan Feliciano (bass); Sam Skinner (banjo, guitar); Josh Marre (guitar, vocals).  I was delighted to hear that (Hall and Levine’s dads play music together, too (in a band called Julie’s Party)).

It’s interesting that they play two older songs and only two from Cardinal, the album that was garnering most of their attention.  The first two are earlier tracks

“Need” is a slow folkie song that begins quietly but after a minute bursts into a wonderful full band sound (they sounded really full when I saw them too).  Many of the Pinegrove song are short–this one is only 2 minutes.  “Angelina” is a pretty rocking song (live it was a really rocking).  It appears to have been a new song recorded for their release of their collected works.  Here its a solid catchy song but is again only a minute and half long–barely getting started when it ends.

There’s a strange edit cut after this song before “Old Friends” starts–not sure what it means (what did they cut?)  But they launch right into “Old Friends” and its notable opening.  This snog is just outstanding the way it feel like there’s no real melody in the beginning, but it’s all there and quite subtle.  And then there’s the powerful chorus where it all comes together.  This version is really quite different–prominent banjo, a slide on the acoustic guitar and outstanding backing vocals.  They even do a cool thing with the ‘as if I needed a reminder’ section in which it goes an octave up–which I like quite a lot.  “Waveform” is a slower song on Cardinal (and seems even slower here–I love how they play off their surroundings).  The harmonies are really great on this one.

The whole set is a great introduction to the band, although seeing them live is a very different experience again.

[READ: June 20, 2016] Awkward

Sarah brought this book home as well and it looked fun.  And so it proved to be.

The title is a little overused at this point but it proves to be rather accurate for the story.  It follows Penelope (Peppi for short) as she starts her first day at a new school.  While in the hallway, she trips over her own feet in front of just about everyone.  There is much laughter until a boy comes over to help her.  But as soon as he does there is even more laughter as the mean boys chant that “Nerder found a new girlfriend.”

She was utterly humiliated and acted out in the worst way possible–she got mad at the boy who helped her.  She pushed him away and shouted Leave Me Alone!  And as she looked back she says “I will never forget the look on his face.”

The story quickly jumps to weeks later.  She has some friends n the art club, where she feels very comfortable, but she is still really sorry about what she did to this boy.  She wants to say she’s sorry to him, but she can’t bring herself to do it. (more…)

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