So, i got my “permission slip” signed — i.e., was allowed to take a night off from family life — to go see my first show in I don’t know how long. It was a great opportunity, in my mind, both to blow off some steam, and to see the Pietasters, whom I’d first seen in 1995 or so, and last in, I think, 1998. My old beat-up Pietasters logo tee from that show is, sadly, long gone, I think. It was threadbare anyway.
So, in any case, they came down to the Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro. A friend of mine, whose hailing alma mater is from (of course) Blacksburg, was planning to hit the show anyway, so we carpooled in and caught the show.
I think beauty is in the eye of the beholder for this set. As for me, having not seen them in ages, the show was pretty fantastic. For S, who has apparently caught them at this venue five times alone, it was pretty forgettable, what with someone substituting in for the (apparently drunk) keyboardist and lacking a trumpet player.
They played a lot of the old favourites. Most of them I knew, although since I don’t own Willis, there were one or two I didn’t know. They also of course played a track or two from the new album, All Day. Overall, the set was a bit short to me, seeing that they were the headlining act, but it was pretty late by the end of the night anyway. I guess that’s a reflection on (my own) old age.
As for the new album, the aforementioned show was a cd release gig, and I bought a copy. Thus far, I think it’s kind of… okay. The album’s opening track, is a song which is on its face, a jingle about womanizing, but in its soul, a song about a stubborn persistence to be one’s self, featuring a lyric with Jackson singing that “…I’ll never change my ways”.
That lyric kind of sums up the album nicely. This is more of the same great, Motown-influenced Pietasters goodness that we’ve all enjoyed throughout the 90s.. It may be lacking a bit of the edge of earlier albums (to me anyway), but the content itself isn’t too bad, and their rocksteady cover of Tom Petty “Listen to Her Heart” is a nice addition.
What bothers me about All Day is, quite frankly, the production quality. I popped the CD into the player Monday. Unfortunately, most of the album just sounds really muddy to me, and I don’t think it’s due to any bouts of tinnitus, post-show. Thinking maybe I needed to rejigger my audio, I dropped the bass two notches on the player. While it helped a bit, the sound quality still had an overall “molasses” feel to it.
Now, obviously, 10-15 years removed from third-wave era, I don’t imagine it’s as easy today to get the funding or availability for a top-notch, well-polished recording as it once was. Nonetheless, I can’t shake the notion that we’ve gone beyond “indie” sound quality here, right to “4-track in the garage” territory.
Who knows, maybe I’m in the minority opinion here.