Out Here

(Last Beat Records)

Last Beat kicked off 1999 with Captain Audio's My ears are ringing but my heart's ok; now, it inaugurates 2000 with another EP by a band made up of local vets. And like Captain Audio, Pinkston is more than a new beginning tacked onto a series of old endings, the continuation of a plot that was never quite resolved. Well, it is, and it isn't: You couldn't blame singer Beth Clardy Lewis for trying to make up for the time she lost watching rubberbullet stagger to the finish line, and drummer Ben Burt still probably isn't too thrilled about the way he was sacked by The Tomorrowpeople. But that's really the only reference that should be made to the list of bands that appear on the respective résumés of Clardy Lewis, Burt, and guitarists Ean Parsons and Josh Daughtery, a roll call that also includes Record Player, Earl, Union Watts, and Brutal Juice.

That's because Pinkston doesn't sound like anything its members have been involved with before; it's a band that plays pop songs that pop and guitar-based melodies that aren't as simple as they sound. The only group that a member of Pinkston has been a part of whose style shows up on the band's self-titled EP is Weener, the Weezer tribute act Burt drummed for, which lends "This My Wish" its herky-jerky rhythm and over-driven chorus. The sole thing Pinkston retains from its collective past is its play-fuckin'-loud live shows, an aspect of the group its debut doesn't really capture. That's not necessarily a bad thing: As it stands, the songs on Pinkston sound just fine in their slightly reined-in form, letting Clardy Lewis and Burt's harmonies rise above Daughtery and Parsons' tag-team guitar din. Propping yourself up on twin Marshall stacks is fine when you have to make a crowd at Trees turn their attention away from their bourbon-and-Cokes, but when it's just a stereo and a set of headphones, it doesn't hurt if the song is separate from the noise.

And the songs hold up to closer inspection, especially because Clardy Lewis is singing much more than she ever did in rubberbullet, taking control of her own voice for the first time. Yet it's still expansive enough to withstand Daughtery and Parsons' pedal-pushing assaults, such as on "Big," when their simmering leads boil over into a chorus that lives up to the song's title. Daughtery and Parsons have more room to shine on "Thirteen Threats," playing keep-away with the melody, while Clardy Lewis' sing-song lyrics try to steal it back. But perhaps the EP's finest moment is its very first, "Say You Want It," which kicks off the disc. It's a little bit of everything Pinkston excels at, from its unpredictable structure and tight harmonies to Daughtery and Parsons' simple but catchy guitar work and Clardy Lewis' surprising voice. You only wonder why few of those qualities turned up in its members' former bands.

Zac Crain

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