A jangly serving of Arizona Americana.
Pilcrowe are the joint talents of Flagstaff music veterans Ryan Heinsius (guitar) and Andrew Lauher (drums). They have been making music together for some ten years on the local scene there, and under the name Pilcrowe have now released their first full album, ‘West of Center’, which follows last year’s fine ‘The Big Burn’ EP.
Opener ‘Ancient Melody’ sets the tone for a record that might be described as on the indie-rock side of Americana – carrying shades of early REM, with minor key guitars jangling and arpeggio-ing across the song, building to a chorus which has a memorable hook line. Lauher’s drums are certainly prominent in the mix on this, and indeed throughout, giving the record drive and focus, and a nice counterpoint to Heinsius’ light tenor vocal.
Second track ‘Wayward’ introduces some tasty slide, while ‘Night Mind’ has some spacey-phased guitar parts, and both songs feature a nice change of pace in the chorus. ‘Wanderers on the Way’, meanwhile, has an almost martial drum part that gives the song its identity.
There is a consistency of sound and approach throughout, although this is not entirely a compliment. Listened to as a whole, the record perhaps lacks a little light and shade; songs start to roll into each other, and the relentless pacing of the music, together with the minor key verse/major key chorus style, might have been used more sparingly.
However, there is genuinely a lot to like here; there is energy and obvious skill in the playing of both partners, and a lot of care has been taken over their craft. Given many people listen to music via playlists rather than as whole records these days, the songs more than stand up individually; and for some aficionados of college American rock or widescreen Americana, ‘West of Center’ is likely to prove a hidden trove of guitar-driven nuggets.