I'm a first impression kind of guy. I think that may put it mildly though, because I rarely give things a second chance if they don't impress me in the first five minutes (Be it with movies, music or people). I'm a part of a generation that needs instant gratification, yearns above all else to have all the information available to them immediately. So, first impressions are part of our lifeblood, really. But with Hangman, a new album by Pine Slacks, I didn't need much of a first impression to be impressed in the first place.
Throughout my reviews, I've come to realize I may be destined to live in a log cabin, smoking an old pipe and sipping moonshine because I have some predisposed affection towards folk music. I've used the term 'folk' to describe many of the albums I've reviewed, and this is more of a simple realization than a complaint. It's just strange to see how I've, almost unknowingly, chose albums to review based on this concept.
Anyways, Pine Slacks play the folk card well, but they struggle a bit in how they want to go about honing their representation of the genre. With "Grey Cell Doors", their opening track, Pine Slacks play a song that would fit any western films today, echoing overlapping vocals with a simple, but somewhat haunting, acoustic riff. It reminded me, at least stylistically, like a Sean Rowe song (Because, as everyone knows, it's nearly impossible to hit the baratone style of singing Sean does). "Echoes", "Hangman" and "Long Drive" continue this trend, being more down-note and wounded in nature then their other tunes. They're solid additions, at least showing a form of depth to their songwriting.
"Time Machine" and "Stay" are fairly simple, if not unforgettable, which doesn't bother me much because I like the overall product of an album more than I do songs by themselves. "Know My Name" also keeps it light, but I found myself enjoying it immensely. I couldn't find a rhyme or reason as to why the song stuck with me long after I'd finished listening to it, but sometimes things don't need to beat you over the head in order to appreciate them.
About my only grip with the album is the track "Hold On". The bass in the song is very loud, and completely distracted me from the rest of the tune. It's not something a little editing couldn't finish, but, obviously these guys felt it was good enough to put out. It must be intentional, and that's fine, but it doesn't make listening to the track any easier.
Hangman, while not sounding like the most polished album, excited me because of the bands devotion to their craft. It's hard to make folk songs sound different, but Pine Slacks clearly have some love being poured into their project, so their love isn't being used up in vain. At least that's the impression I get from it.. - Shane