Pinegrove paves the way

The New Jersey band secures the future of heart-on-your-sleeve indie rock.


Christian Davis/THE CHIMES

Christian Davis, Writer

The legendary Q-Tip once said “things move in cycles,” effectively connecting the thematic similarities of jazz and hip-hop. This is true across genre lines everywhere, but the idea has its exceptions. Sometimes things die, and they do so for the better. Last weekend, The Troubadour in West Hollywood hosted two nights of shows that could not have been more juxtaposed.


Guns & Roses played a surprise reunion show at the 500 capacity club where their egotistical, whiskey-soaked foray into hair metal and overall absurdity began. The next night, Pinegrove, The Sidekicks, The World is a Beautiful Place and I am No Longer Afraid to Die and Into it. Over it. played. One show attempted to revive the faded, intentionally forgotten glory days of aging rock stars who blew their paychecks on plastic surgery and bad hats. The other night showcased a glimmering future for young people in indie rock — you do the math.

A quick look at my back catalogue reveals my ravings surrounding TWIABP and the emo revival in general. I have seen them four times now, and this was my second Into It. Over It. show. So much has been said about the revival, and at this point I would argue too much. Not enough has been said about Pinegrove, though. The unassuming, crucially important debut record from the New Jersey band is set to be a contender for top ten lists everywhere.


Led by vocalist and primary songwriter Evan Stephens Hall, Pinegrove has worked its way to the forefront of indie rock conversations, largely due to the strength of the new record “Cardinal” —- not to discredit the years of solid bandcamp releases, however. These songs are haunting. They brim with anecdotes about life as a 20-something — the importance of clinging to “Old Friends,” the resolve required to make “New Friends.

Much like the discussions surrounding the brilliant record Hop Along released last year, it is impossible to talk about Pinegrove without praising the distinctive qualities of their lead vocalist. Hall’s voice cuts through these tracks effortlessly, usurping predictable melody lines. The singer just finds what works, carrying with him the subtles of a modern twang and the heart-on-your- sleeve sentiments of someone who can detail brokenness and joy in equally devastating detail.


I was lucky enough to catch Pinegrove two years ago, in a room roughly the size of my dorm room in Hart Hall. They made it across the country from New Jersey, supporting Louisiana indie-punk outfit Donovan Wolfington. I showed up for the latter, but was continually struck by Hall’s voice, brimming with potential and confidence. I even stood next to the guy for the next few bands. Last weekend I watched him take the stage at the Troubadour. Less than 24 hours after Guns & Roses sweated out their faux rock and roll bravado onstage, Hall filled that same room with the words “I knew happiness when I saw it.” Hall may have worn track shorts and a t-shirt, but I know indie rock brilliance when I see it.

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