Pike 27, a mainstay of the early Cincinnati music scene led by songwriter/guitarist, Dave Purcell, is releasing its first disc of new material after reforming last year. The five track EP, “Calling Out,” is the first recording offered by the band since a highly regarded debut, “Falling Down Hard” was released in 2001, earning acclaim with local reviews, positive national reviews, and international sales.
The EP’s title is taken from the chorus of “Underneath the Trestle,” a post-script Purcell penned for recently retired modern rockers, R.E.M., about their influence on a generation of aspiring musicians-to-be. Of course, Purcell notes, the “calling out” refrain could also serve as an appropriate way to reintroduce a new Pike 27 lineup six years after the band’s last show and Purcell’s move north to take a professorship at Kent State. Back from that original group is bassist and backup vocalist, Sean Rhiney (clabbergirl). New to the fold, and essential to the band’s growing sound, are guitarist Mike Fair (Wojo, Ma Crow & the Flock, The Adventure Seekers) and drummer/multi-instrumentalist Dave Killen, who became the final puzzle piece after a chance reunion show for a band Killen drummed with after Purcell occupied the throne brought the two face to face. The freshly recruited combo’s live debut last November was an opening slot for national indie folksters’ Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion. A series of well-received shows this year was rounded out with back to back fall festival appearances (Midpoint Music Festival and Bend in the River) and a support slot for Alejandro Escovedo’s new band, The Fauntleroys, at the Taft Theatre.
The EP was assembled over four months last winter with engineer Mike Tekulve and Killen at the controls. Avoiding simply mining his Americana-inspired back catalog, Purcell began the writing process by sharing a handful of more immediate, rhythmic and soulful melodies that he heard in his head specifically for this new lineup and letting the various musical influences and experiences in the rehearsal room - (Fair and Rhiney fronted local pop punk and blues based bands, and Killen worked recording sessions with national acts and iconic producers like Flood during his time as a student at Berklee School of Music) - help shape arrangements, tempo, and colors. The result is sometimes jangling and melodic, like the REM inspired title track, or alternatively noisy with big, sing along choruses punctuated by Fair’s caustic riffing in EP opener Playing for Keeps. What remains a constant for the band is Purcell’s ability to craft honest, authentic character driven songs whose narrators are just glad to be alive and in the moment, even if that is rooted in a place of loss (Far Away From Everything), anger (Paying Down The Cost), melancholy (Come To California), or audacious swagger (Keeps).
According to Purcell, what really might tie these new songs and the band’s sound together is its members mutual appreciation for a trio of influential albums: Life’s Rich Pageant, Let It Bleed, and My Aim Is True. You’ll hear echoes of those iconic LP’s, and even the artists they inspired (The Faces, Wilco, Willie Nile), in “Calling Out’s” five tracks. It’s an inspired debut for this “new” band that has already yielded enough songs to begin work on a follow up full length in February 2015.
“Pike 27 plays rock and roll: jangly, smart, sometimes noisy, usually joyful, always passionate. RIYL REM, Alejandro Escovedo, and Elvis Costello in all of their genre-crossing forms.” — CityBeat Midpoint Music Festival guide
I see you laughing on the sidelines / it's easier to never care at all / watch from a velveteen position / never coming closer to the wall // I got it tattooed on my sleeve / all the ones who don't believe / all the stars that I will find / playing for keeps this time // Don Coyote and his noble sideman / search across the land for one true man / hang your photo up for inspiration / burning nights and a lover's stand / Singing “Hallelujah” at 3am / fueled by the third wind of the night / we'll burn you down like Warren Zevon / we'll burn 'til everything's all right
Track Name: Underneath The Trestle
like memory / like digging through the vinyl / like geography / like Georgia in the bones / it's the beginning of the road / new sounds come bleeding (in) / it's the beginning of the road / bring your passion and your pride // (calling out) I found you underneath the trestle / I found you on the radio // if you fade away / you left your mark so clearly / if you fade away / you carved your name in time / it's time to reinvent / the boundaries low and blurry / it's time to reinvent / we will choose our song and dance / as you go around / watching as the wheels go by / we're moving down the road / we're picking up the station / every time a bigger room / every time a new romance…
Track Name: Far Away From Everything
he’s crying gasoline tears again / 42 years down the drain / wearing his old medicine hat / all black and flat / from Saskatoon to Mineral Bay / he sent her postcards everyday / “Know I love you, wish you were here” / Saskatoon to Mineral Bay // take me, go around town, said maybe / take me far from everything / far away from everything // you know there’s six kinds of hell / three kinds of real love / seven kinds of wonder / and ten gods up above / through the smoke and through the rain / I pound the rail and I scream his name / everything I own rides now on you / so, go baby go / I don't know about the chances coming through the crowd / falling towers, take a stand, watch it on TV / I don't know if the chances are good enough for long enough / but there ain't no sin in wishing you were gone / count the roadside crosses / count the trucks that pass on by / the radio crackles with the thunder / and the lightning down inside / there’s nothing here but darkness / keep on driving through the night / you’re alone with your thoughts and hopes and sex and fears and dreams tonight
Track Name: Paying Down The Cost
there’s a problem here / and no one wants to fix it / there’s a deep black hole / south and out of the way / there’s a dying scene / when you see, you can’t forget it / and there’s a dying need / crying for someone to help // we’re paying down the cost (again) // you can stand around / wait for something official / you can cast about for someone else to blame / you can use seven words when the situation calls for three / and you can leave the mess for someone else to clean / I got a simple plan / we’re going to put some boots on the ground / I’m just a single man / I need a whole lot of help / I can’t wait for your big ideas / hey man, where are the big ideas? / Hey doctor, where’s your big idea? / is that all you got?
Track Name: Come To California
long winter’s ride / bottled up inside / and everything seems colored rust or grey / like a horse that seems bound to win the triple crown / the favorites always falter down the stretch / 30 times you swear things won’t be the same / and 30 times you say the same prayers // won’t you come to California? / won’t you come to California with me? // I want to electrify / tired of the shrug and sigh / and conversations circling 'round the same / we can start something new / leave behind the old and blue / and finally see the ocean for ourselves / you wonder if you’d notice if the angels came / you wonder if they’d find you way out here
Quickly became one of my favorite Richmond Fontaine records, Which, coming from a fan such as I am really really says a lot about this record, as I love everything this band as released since I first heard "Miles From" over 20 years ago. Matthew Brooks