18 March 2015

Pile - You're Better Than This

I love it when bands are suggested to me, just a simple - try this - can make the difference to me and change the tone of a day completely.  The band in question today are Pile, a band I am not finding out much about them.  The bits I can gather are that they are from Boston, MA (same as the Pixies) and looking on Spotify I can see three albums (it might be more, as their UK label is shown four albums in total, plus a demo which is called Demonstration track).  From a review of this album, it has been mentioned that they are held with a ferocious reverence in some quarters and have been getting a reputation that they would be one of the next acts to explode; this is something that can be a bit of a double edge when you are talking about a new band who are just getting out there, some bands can collapse under all that pressure, so how will this album copy under that sort of pressure?  If one of your tag line is ‘Your Next Favourite Band’ is it the sort of thing that can really work against a band – anyone want to mention Gay Dad, Babylon Zoo and other fads at this point?  Well let’s find out....

Starting off the thirty seven minute tour-de-force is “The World is Your Motel” which comes across as an experiment between The Fall & Pissed Jeans.  It is aggressive, minimalist punk that is here to shout, destroy and basically piss off anyone within hearing distance.  It is a great mixture of minimal indie, noise rock and (dare I say it) grunge with a hint of New Wave punk dynamics.  It is a really powerful opening album that will have people either falling hands over feet to get a copy or indifferent to what is being offered.   The second track is called “Mr. Fish” which starts off slowly with the bass humming low, drums light and the guitars strumming slowly; but do not fear as they are awaiting to explode out of their collective shells once more here.  The slow nature of the beginning is helped by the chaotic nature of the performance; some people might find this odd, but in this day and age it is something that needs to be brought back again – it is an old trick, but a good one and this is a very effective song that does improve with repeat listens.  The third track is the feral “Tin Foil Hat” that sounds like bombs are being dropped. Once again, my mind is took back to that noise/indie dynamic set that was used to great effect in the late 80’s and early 90’s; this is a really good thing for me as it shows that the punk/indie spirit of those days are not dead and that there is a place for this type of aggressive music – it is one of the more interesting songs I have heard recently.

“Hot Breath” brings back the quiet part (for the majority of the song) of this band and shows what can still be achieved with a guitar band when needed.  Its slow and doomy vibe that takes the makes this number, the sense of menace that comes out of the speakers is huge and the fact that it may alienate some people is by design and that is fine – music does not have to be everything to everyone, sometimes it is best to be something to someone.  “Touched By Comfort” is the fifth track that starts with the band sounding as if they are trying to figure out how the song actually starts, but slowly and surely they draw themselves together and the slow strumming’s melt away to a tight noise that does not swamp the listener straight away; but you can feel yourself being pulled along by the rhythm of the notes and it is impossible not to be impressed by this song.  It could have been just another quite/noise number, but there is something more to the number; which is also something that can be levelled at the short and sweet “Fuck The Police” which is not a cover of the N.W.A. standard, but an acoustic guitar plucking number that keeps its charm going along all the way through and no sign of a distortion peddle anywhere.  It does not outstay its welcome and I actually wish it was longer if I am honest, but it is better to keep the audience wanting more.

The seventh track is called “Waking Up in the Morning” which starts off with a repetitive tone which is soon swamped with the band taking the song on in a song which is similar in tone to Wowee Zowee era Pavement.  It is also one of the best examples of American alternative rock which I have heard for a long time, it is a type of song which sounds that could have only been made in that part of the world; much in the same way that the North of England gave the world bands like The Smiths, The Charlatans and Joy Division – you might get bands who try to sound as if they are doing the same sort of thing in different parts of the globe, but it does not quite sound right and the same is true with this type of music.  This is actually one of the best songs on the album as well, it is that hypnotic.  After this we have the punk and manic energy of “#2 Hit Single” which sounds like the band are ready to take the world by the scruff of its neck, again it has droning beginning, but this gives way to a heavier droning riff that will drill itself into your subconscious upon its first listen and appear randomly when the mood takes it.  The deconstruction of the song is brilliant and the singular nature of the noise takes this album up an extra notch, so far there has not been a dull moment.  After this we are introduced to the penultimate track “Yellow Room” which is quite possibly the most distorted track of the whole album; it starts off as if it is going to be another gentle number with a light strum and buzzing feedback till about 28 seconds in when a guitar sounds as if has been crashed through the wall of the song and then the band bring out the disjointed, uneven paced song that it not the easiest to get a grip on to begin with, but after a while it begins to sink in and you can see what they were aiming for on the number – to make the audience feel uncomfortable at this point, it works really well and it is to the advantage of the album as it could have went for the easy path; but this does not seem to be the style of pile.  Ending the album is “Appendicitis” which starts with the acoustic guitar again and feels like it is being restrained in places, like there is a monster underneath which keeps giving glimpse of its true colours every now and then; towards the end it seems to be unleashed a bit, but not in the way you would expect it to be or as quick as you would expect to come either.  This track is registered at seven minutes and forty seven seconds and it ebbs and flows along with a pace that is neither steady nor measured until the fifth minute and then it gives way to what can only be described as a secret track called “Rock & Roll Forever, With The Customer In Mind” (remember those kids) and the album ends with the world falling to pieces as the band rock out with the album coming to an end.

For once, I think the tag line might be correct – I am incredibly impressed with this record; from its fucked up cover, the songs which are not aiming for the mainstream and feels like it is the start of something special.  It is dynamic, harsh and rewarding; it does not put a foot wrong at any point.  If you have any interest in Alternative music, really you should be listening to this album as soon as possible.  The fact it is not their first means that they have grown into their current state without any outside interference and it feels very organic and natural.  The fact it is a great example what guitars can do when they are not sounding like a keyboard is being played by them is brilliant as well; the only thing stopping it being perfect is that I am wanting more.  Stop reading – start consuming.

9.5 out of ten – Almost perfect, almost……

Top track – Waking Up in the Morning

You can purchase the album from their Bandcamp here

You can also purchase the album from Amazon here

You can visit the Pile Tumblr here

You can also follow their activities here

You can listen to the album on Spotify here

For our Deezer users, here is a link for you to stream the album

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