Band Name: Pineross
Album Name: Pineross
Best Element: Kevin Larkin’s ability to cram an incredible amount of story into each of his songs.
Genre: Neo-Western Folk.
Label Name: N/A.
Band E-Mail: Kevin@pineross.com
Pineross: the name of Kevin Larkin’s neo-Western folk band; the title of the first full-length CD of said band; the piecemeal, mythical soundtrack for our Western heritage; the musical embodiment of a dead or dying ghost that is the Great American West. This eleven-song CD shades in the gaps between The West’s endless highways, stumbles through tumbleweed-ridden expanses, encounters and outruns bandits, waxes quixotic, drinks itself to oblivion, turns country legend, and rides off into the sunset, six-gun shining at Kevin Larkin’s side. Larkin’s website defines Pineross—the project—as being, “Two parts highway; 1 egg; 2 cups ground nails; 6 pints beer; 1 empty afternoon; 2 tsp paprika; a dash of doubt – Bake for 30 min at 325. Serves 4.”
Larkin shines when weaving myth into memorable, catchy song. Mandolin dances over the mythological union between Cervantes’ Don Quixote and the West in “Soy Quixote.” A drunken mid-song hurly-burly is summed up as the chorus cries: “I lost my mind out in the desert / you’d lose your mind out in the desert just the same.” My favorite tune, “Country Legend,” gathers the reflections of self-christened criminal; here Larkin’s knack for character-development is most evident. The incriminating and borderline-mythological chorus relates, “And in the press there’s news I’m out on the loose / I’m going to end up like a country legend, / and only fade away; / and only fade away.” Larkin re-casts an American past; he does so fluently, with eyes as encompassing as Walt Whitman’s.
Musically, Larkin is ambitious, combining aspects of traditional American Western music, Irish fiddle and bouzouki, and Spanish-influenced rhythms into a seemingly impossible whole. At times, his ideas seem to overwhelm the album’s unity. The inclusion of vocal and radio sampling in “Back ‘n’ Forth,” seems out of pace with the album’s steady ride. And although the Irish fiddle tune “Nopal” is undoubtedly a gem in and of itself, it seems a stretch for an album with a Western heart. This aside, the songs on Pineross are all well written, and these infringements are overshadowed by Larkin’s wonderful storytelling.
His stripped down recording set-up—“an old beat-up laptop computer and two mics,” —would leave most albums feeling thin, but the production here matches Larkin’s style: straightforward and unassuming. There is simple beauty in this. Pineross is a sound choice for a cross-country road-trip companion. “Every Time I Turn the Radio Up,” a song of leaving, captures the tensions of a relationship winding over desert roads: “I wondered about your silent ways behind the wheels for days and days / feeling free out on the road.” It repeats, in a stripped-down chorus, “And every time I turn the radio up, you turn the radio down.” And in “Nantucket,” Larkin croons, “And sometimes a foreign land / reminds me of my brother,” charmingly relating distance to those who are distant.
Larkin’s Pineross doesn’t ride off into the sunset… it paints a Western landscape then invites you to wander off into its dusty haze.