As I mentioned a couple of months ago, if you had been frequenting JOVM over the course of last year, you may have come across a couple of posts on Athens, GA-based quartet Pinecones. And although at the time, they were a relatively new band, the band’s members Bo Orr (vocals, guitar), Ben Salle (drums), Brain Atoms (guitar) and Ryan Evers have played in a number of bands together, going back to when they were all high schoolers; so in some way, the band as it was constituted was more than a decade in the making. In any case, after a year of writing songs and playing live shows together, the members of Pinecones went into the studio on April Fool’s Day to record the material that would wind up up comprising their full-length debut, Sings For You Now. From album singles “Cosmosis” and “Ocean at the Center,” their material eschewed familiar and fundamental songwriting structures — there isn’t a discernible verse, chorus or even a bridge and honestly, it doesn’t matter and is hardly the point; in fact their material possesses a raw, primal urgency and passion that’s sadly rare in an age of sneering irony, preening self-obsession, overinflated self-importance, and prepackaged commodified music product. More importantly, in my mind, their sound and aesthetic has served as a powerful and necessary reminder that life is a brief and chaotic blast of messy, urgent and strident passions and furies before it all dissipates like smoke into the ether.
Last year, was an interesting year for the Athens, GA-based band as they announced that they were changing their name from Pinecones to Arbor Labor Union, and then they were signed to renowned indie rock label Sub Pop Records. Building upon the attention they received with the release of Sings For You Now, the quartet formerly known as Pinecones will be releasing their sophomore effort I Hear You on May 13. Unsurprisingly, I Hear You‘s first single “Radiant Mountain Road” continues the band’s reputation for a raw, furiously passionate sound and aesthetic that draws from Neil Young and Crazy Horse (think of “Cinnamon Girl“), and Pearl Jam (think of “Last Exit,” “Spin The Black Circle,” off Vitalogy and “Blood” off Vs.) as the song was a towering, noisy squall consisting of layers upon layers of chugging power chords, thundering drumming and rumbling bass chords paired with Orr’s howling and shouting above the fray. “Belief’d,” I Hear You‘s latest single is a slow-burning, sludgy power chord number with deeply metaphysical leanings and intensely visual poetic lyrics — in my mind’s eye, I can picture a “stacking of faceless heads into a totem pole,” and looking up to the heavens to see “an army of stars,” and feel “blankets of wind,” while Bo Orr howls lyrics that focus on mysticism and higher states of consciousness within the cosmos, and of our place within it. Sonically, the song reminds me of “Tremor Christ” off Vitalogy if Neil Young had covered it while channeling their earlier work in “Cosmosis;” in other words, it strikes me as being fiercely, independently iconoclastic while possessing a sly playfulness at its core.