I was looking forward very much to hearing the new LP from Pinegrove, their third. “Cardinal” (2016) made an instant impression, it appealed as a fresh take on the kind of melodic American guitar music that I’ve always liked. I bought the record, heck I even ordered a tee shirt online (not from the band) which I paid for but never arrived! Robbing the fans of a fairly obscure group seemed such a niche crime & it was my first, hopefully my only, experience of such a 21st century crime so I bit it. “Cardinal” got played a lot but not as much as the sensational live session they did for Audiotree which captured the dynamism & clarity of Pinegrove’s sound better than the record. Ones to watch out for, for sure.
“Intrepid” is the first track to be found from the upcoming “Skylight album. It does that quiet-loud thing they do very well &, once again, a live version recorded for a radio station in November appears to be have more drive than the one released. The camera is mainly pointed at singer-songwriter Evan Stephens Hall. He’s pretty good but the contributions of Zack Levine (drums) who has been around since 7th grade (whatever that is) & Sam Skinner (guitar) should not be underestimated. Nandi Plunkett (vocals/keyboard) seems to have split & bass is played by whoever is around. Things were looking good for the arrival of the new record in March 2018.
So far so predictable until a couple of weeks later, a long rather rambling letter from Hall, responding to charges of sexual coercion by a former girlfriend, appeared on the band’s Facebook page. In consideration for the other person involved Evan kept the details vague & was possibly guilty of over-sharing about the emotional effect of the charges. An admittance that he has in the past abused his privilege as a performer & had sex with members of his audience seemed to be rather irrelevant (musician has sex with fans shock!). The band cancelled all dates, the hiatus has been extended & plans to release the new LP have been shelved. Let’s hope that Evan’s therapist can help him resolve his issues.
It is not my intention to minimise the charges made against the singer. I would appreciate if he & others accused of assault & coercion responded more directly to actual events rather than issue opaque apologies. If “Skylight” is never released & Pinegrove don’t return then so it goes. If wanting to hear it makes me an enabler of abusers then maybe I need a therapist. I do know that an insistence on moral rectitude from the artists whose work I admire would mean I have a lot fewer records & a lot less stuff. I’m still going to listen to & watch the “Aphasia” clip because there’s not much new music around that’s better than this.