Stream Pinecones debut LP, out today, at Stereogum
“Pinecones are ingrained with southern grit. It’s not so much a sound, there’s no twang or drawl, but an attitude. Their dooming riffs and impassioned rambles carry smolder like the heat of the southern sun.”
Pinecones are a band nearly a decade in the works. Orr, bassist Ryan Evers, and drummer Ben Salie had been playing music together since their high school days starting on Martin Luther King Day in 2005. Orr and Salie’s early band Mosaic (which later featured Atoms) never settled on one style—they explored their mutual musical interests and learned how to write songs. When Orr eventually moved away from Georgia to temporarily live in New England, they kept working on music long distance, building on each other’s acoustic guitar songs via GarageBand. One-show bands were created and scrapped. Orr began focusing on Dead in the Dirt, but during a 2012 breakfast in Atlanta, Atoms introduced a thought he’d been toying with: What if they started a band called Pinecones that was influenced by the existential writings of Henry David Thoreau and Walt Whitman?
Soon after, Atoms and Salie worked on some demos. “It kind of sounded like some weird CCR deep cut,” Orr said, and he quickly insisted that he should sing over their instrumentals. Their collaborations snowballed from there. Songs were written, and eventually, the band took shape. There were no conversations about how they wanted the band to sound—no arbitrary declarations of “we should sound like this” were uttered. They just began writing rock songs, and from a foundation built from years of collaborating and their mutual love of disparate guitar heroes (Lungfish, Fugazi, the Allman Brothers, Patti Smith Group, and Neil Young’s records with Crazy Horse), the Pinecones were born.
After a year of playing shows and writing, Pinecones recorded Sings For You Now entirely on April 1, 2014; they went back in for overdubs on Good Friday. (Orr is delighted by the significance of the dates: “We’re a band of fools who recorded an album on April Fool’s Day and then we resurrected it and added more on Good Friday.”) If Orr’s lyrics seem particularly positive, it’s probably because performing with Pinecones is a life-affirming practice. “This music just sounds like our friendship to me,” Orr said. Tasked with describing his band, he didn’t waste time listing microgenres. Instead, he wrote this poem:
ritual grin through electrified chords
or repetition in search of devotion
rock n roll themes repeating
very simple guitar rock music in search
of other worldly ways
And there you have it—it’s rock music, alright, but Pinecones rarely adhere to any concrete “verse-chorus-verse” pop song structures. Instead, they test the genre’s aesthetic capabilities. Chord progressions are repeated like mantras, allowing the band to explore each possible avenue and intricacy in their melodies. Listeners are allowed an opportunity to become better acquainted with Salie’s ornate percussion patterns. As Pinecones near their dozenth repetition or so, it might seem like they’re settling into a routine, but of course that’s when they upend a song’s entire structure or their friend’s dad suddenly joins them on saxophone (George Davidson on “Astral Bodies”). They’re a band brimming with ideas, but content to go long with individual moments. They’re constantly writing music and are currently sitting on over an album’s worth of material. They hope to record again on April Fool’s Day.
Arrowhawk Records is a vinyl and tape label based in Athens, GA. Current and upcoming releases include albums from BAMBARA, Dream Boat, White Laces, Hand Sand Hands, Feverer, and more.
Bo Orr – Vocals, Guitar
Ben Salie – Drums
Brain Atoms – Guitar
Ryan Evers – Bass