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July 23, 2024

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Pilot To Gunner
Games At High Speeds (Arena Rock Recording Co.)

By: Vinnie Apicella

I'll come right out and say I admire them for sticking to the no bullshit standard Rock -- guitar, bass, drums, vox -- formula without yielding to hype-driven thematics and in-studio plagiarism for the sake of in step crowd pleasing. At first glance, the "Emo" tag is easily employed, and there's an element in there certainly where high-pitched, high-strung fret patterns, clean and rising vocals are concerned. Envision a raspy Pop style with a pretty face and primitive urge. The sound, fiery and frivolous, is not dissimilar to the early work of '80s generated post-modern superstar types -- The Cure, The Call, The Alarm, P-Furs -- where harmonic fill effects, note for note echo, fade and friendly folk verses with rising inflections tugged mightily at the authoritative toughness of the time before the lines blurred between Rock, Pop, and the oh so fashionable New Wave arrival. And Pilot To Gunner is adventuresome yet subtle, a post-Punk prot?g? of a still developing Sonic Youth-ist style that's catchy enough without the obligatory confound most Indie-bred Emo-Rock brands brandish before following up on their own scattered foot prints becomes enough of a burden to flip the switch for simplicity. "Games At High Speeds" is an impressive debut without question -- tightly arranged without sacrificing the "trashiness" that's so becoming a young upstart with only a sweaty-tee and denim for backing; The title and clever matador image on the cover are indicative of only rare instances of in flight turbulence and sonic speed, where mostly, the album is slowly paced, nearly lethargic in tempo, guided by pedal effects and useful dissonance that separates PTG, the Hot Water Music, Ultimate Fakebook types-- Finechina, from dumbed down Grammy winning boners that lost their sense of adventure upon entering puberty. The lyrics are a loose valve of constant word flow with nary a fixed course or repetitive break, but instead a long exhalation of forward progress. Best tunes here are the moody title track, the catchy and quick "Action Items," which ironically features the "bonus track" asterisk, "Zero Return" because it's like revisiting The Replacements in their raunch era where the verses didn't come quite so tautly; "It's So Good To Be Here In Paris" is mildly melodic with an intruding bass line and dissonant quality that's together enjoyable in small quantities; "Bring It Live" and last song, "Run Interference" can battle it out for the final spot, though I'd lean more towards the latter for its broken beats and public nuisance appeal. Altogether it's a decent debut record delivered with sloppy drunk chord progressions and welcoming to a wide range of followers, from Punk, Fuzz, Garage Rock and Emo.
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