Missed Releases: Pile – “dripping”
January 10, 2013
Today’s album came to me through a music reviewer that releases videos under the moniker “The Needle Drop.” This album made his top 50 (#29), described as “a solid combo of [old-school] indie rock and post-hardcore.” Not being a huge hard-rock, punk, or post-hardcore fan (though I have my moments), I didn’t expect much going into this album, but given my love for Titus Andronicus and my desire to find similar outlets of pure energy, I gave Pile’s latest album, dripping, a shot.
A lot of my impressions of music comes from the first time I listen to it, especially based on where I am listening to it. For dripping, I was sitting at my desk, trying to sludge through the last of my college essay editing on December 31st. I could not have picked a better time to try out this album. No matter what else is said about dripping, it packs a punch. Practically every song has its cathartic moments. It bursts with energy, driven by crunchy guitars, strong bass lines, and heavy drum sections. For someone working on last-minute edits, it was the perfect motivation. However, the album has stood up strongly on further listens. Beyond the initial drive lies songs that present interesting constructions, lyrical substance, and skilled instrumentals.
Pile began as the solo project of frontman Rick Maguire and thus he remains the project’s driving creative force, writing most of the songs. And as a songwriter, Maguire does not disappoint. dripping forgoes the standard verse – chorus arrangement of songs, opting for more ever-changing songs that shift in-and-out of sections seemingly at free will, a tact which is highly conducive to the genre Pile specializes in. It allows for a (relatively) quiet and subdued section to suddenly break into one of these cathartic moments that are so frequent throughout the album. This is especially driven by Maguire’s vocal abilities; he can switch between restrained murmurs, full-on screaming, and melodic singing all within the same song. Sometimes it feels like he just doesn’t want the listeners to get comfortable with anything – he wants the album to grab and keep their attention. “Prom Song” is a fantastic example of this. The song opens with a guitar riff over some drums that hints at the possibility of a blown-out section of pure post-hardcore punk coming up and then shifts to a strong guitar chords and drum sections with Maguire restraining himself to drawling murmur. This build and then fall pattern continues for the first few minutes of the song – each section changing slightly and new sections being through in – until the release at 3 and a half minutes in with a scorching guitar solo and pulsating rhythm section that continues until the end of the song.
While I definitely hear some Titus Andronicus on dripping, this is truly a different outfit. Pile almost refuses to be content as one genre, one style of music. Maguire feels like he is constantly adjusting during songs, he does what he thinks is right at each moment. Most of the songs structures feel both planned and improvised on the spot, and I think that is one of the strongest aspects of dripping. This inability to be defined as one genre or one structure is what moves the album beyond the many other punk-rock albums that come out every year. dripping proves an interesting listen, while existing in one of the more emotion-driven genres of music.
Rating: 4.5 / 5
Key Tracks: Bad Boy, Prom Song, The Jones