Frankie - Pinegrove: Cardinals
I’ve never felt more at home in a song than I do when “Old Friends” comes on, and that’s why Pinegrove’s Cardinals is such a dear piece of my collection to me. “Old Friends” reminds me of every street I’ve ever walked down, whether my tiny hometown where I grew up, the town I went to college in where I grew up a little more and discovered my independence, or the metropolis I live in now, where walking can be rather impractical but I still try to do it as often as possible. It reminds my of friends lost and friends gained, and it reminds me I should talk to my family more than I do. It’s probably the only song that can consistently bring tears to my eyes every time it comes on. “Old Friends” does all of that to me, and it’s only the first song on this masterpiece of an album.
Cardinals is the second full-length album (their first being self released) from the New Jersey Indie band, and the album that ultimately put them on the map in the indie community. Pinegrove’s folk-ish acoustic sound and their abundance of live-recorded content make them very approachable, like any band you ever saw in a basement in college (or was that just me?). Other songs of note include “Aphasia,” a song that hits close to home, being about the fear of not being able to access your words or being able to express yourself. Lead singer and lyricist Evan Hall uses the condition of “aphasia” metaphorically, to express that his greatest fear is not being able to express his complex emotions through his music, and is a fear I share as a writer. Another song I connect with is “Size of the Moon,” a big, throat shredding, raw song about stagnation and trying to get moving again. I find myself living in the past a lot, so these little reminders to live in the present are welcome and necessary.
Pinegrove had quite a tumultuous 2017-2018 and I put off picking up this record for quite some time while I reckoned with how I felt about Evan Hall and the news that unfolded around him. At first, all Pinegrove fans knew was that Hall had been accused of sexual coercion by an unnamed victim via a long Facebook post from Hall, and the biggest band in indie removed themselves from the line-up for Snowed In Fest 2017, shelved a completed follow-up to Cardinals and slipped into seclusion. We would come to find out throughout the year that the unnamed victim came forward to an organization known as Punk Talks, and things went downhill from there. Punk Talks is an organization meant to help both musicians and fans dealing with any kind of problems in the scene, but in this case, it catapulted a delicate situation into the public light when it could have and should have been dealt with in privacy. The founder of Punk Talks, Sheridan Allen, spoke personally to the victim, and decided she must take action, even against the victim’s wishes. Allen contacted Pinegrove’s label Run For Cover, the promoter for Snowed In, and members of the other bands set to play. She would further threaten that if Pinegrove was not removed from the lineup, the victim planned “to speak publicly, which we support 10000%” adding “I hope you will stand with me on this, it has not been an easy time working directly to take down the biggest band in indie right now and I am very tired.” Later, she would backtrack on this comment. Reportedly, these messages and threats were against the victim’s wishes.
During a year spent in contrition, Hall met with the victim and a mediator and they attempted to reconcile the situation on the victim’s terms. I think this was a huge step for the music scene amidst other higher profile allegations that were not being handled as delicately as they should have been. When the victim decided she was satisfied with the therapy and mediation, Pinegrove once again entered the spotlight, albeit quietly, releasing that shelved record on Bandcamp for a name-your-price donation to be split between Musicares, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and the Voting Rights Project. It was at that point that I personally reconciled with Pinegrove as well, and allowed myself to finally purchase Cardinals on vinyl. It makes the album that much more special to me, because I saw one of my heroes turn human in front of me, but he still managed to do the right thing and earn back my trust. Now when I listen to Cardinals the songs come off more honest and sincere than just songs written to fill up an album. They remind me that a real, flawed and honest person felt the things put into the songs, and that validates the way I feel day to day.
Michael - The Cure: Disentegration
The Cure have been killing it in the alt news lately. First they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and made some internet comedy gold in the process. If you haven't seen the clip, it's well worth your time.
In addition to their induction in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, The Cure announced that they will be touring the US in honor of the 30th anniversary of Disintegration. If you have not had the chance to see The Cure live, I highly, highly, recommend you do it. They don't tour the States often and they are still one of the best live bands out there. Additionally, they are still one of the best shows I have ever seen.
Onto the album! Disintegration was the eight album released by The Cure and it dropped in May of 1989. It included some of the band's best known work including "Pictures of You", "Lovesong", "Lullaby", and "Fascination Street". For me, "Pictures of You" might be the best song by The Cure that there is, it tops a long list for me.
I have noticed a trend of artists covering The Cure including artists such as: 311, Phoebe Bridgers, Dinosaur Jr., Bat for Lashes, and Yo La Tengo, just to name a few. I'm all for bands covering artists, in fact the Dinosaur Jr. cover of "Just Like Heaven" is everything a cover should be, a reimagining of the work, fun, and clever. However, I must say I have also noticed quite a trend of people saying that these covers are better than The Cure's original (this is particularly prevalent with 311's cover of "Lovesong"). Look it, everyone's entitled to their musical opinion, but what In my experience, I have found that many who hold these opinions are completely unfamiliar with The Cure's work. I just feel the band's legacy gets disrespected, I just want to shake people and shout: "There's a reason all these artists cover them!". Anyway, enough with ranting I say this only to urge you to get out there and listen The Cure!