Pear Earl Are Back With a New Album About the Dread of Just Everything | Dallas Observer
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Pearl Earl’s Upcoming Record It’s Dread, Is, Sadly, Right on the Money

Pearl Earl got real about the last few years with an album titled — what else? — "It's Dread."
Ariel Hartley of Pearl Earl, wearing a T-shirt of Black Sabbath’s Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. It's a record that influenced her creativity in the recording of It’s Dread.
Ariel Hartley of Pearl Earl, wearing a T-shirt of Black Sabbath’s Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. It's a record that influenced her creativity in the recording of It’s Dread. Dima Shumov
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At a 1991 concert in San Francisco, R&B and soul music great Aaron Neville dedicated a song to famed concert promoter Bill Graham, but not before recalling a story about him.

“He said, ‘Man, one day I was just feeling so bad, you know? And I come and heard you cats. Man, it was like I took a pill,’” Neville said. “He said, ‘They ought to have a Neville pill, man. People get to feeling bad, take a Neville pill and cool out.’”

A man of mixed Black and Choctaw heritage being told by a son of Jewish-Russian immigrants living in Germany during the rise of Nazism that he was a source of perseverate joy was quite a statement of informed optimism, especially given how tumultuous the 1960s were.

But not every creative spirit can resist succumbing to the dread and despair of the times. Add to this camp Ariel Hartley of Los Angeles/Denton transplants Pearl Earl, whose upcoming album is appropriately titled It’s Dread.

“A lot of [the record] is kind of ridden with this mental strife and inner turmoil,” says Hartley over the phone from her home in Los Angeles.

The gloom and despair in the record was predated by the album’s initial conception and production, which was later delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time, Hartley lived in Minneapolis, drummer Bailey Chapman lived in L.A., and other core members, Chelsey Danielle and Stefanie Lazcano, lived in Dallas.

Hartley eventually moved to L.A. with Chapman, but not before the tumult of the world reached its excruciating nadir in Minneapolis with the murder of George Floyd.

“It felt like a giant ant pile that got stepped on,” Hartley said of the social climate in Minneapolis following Floyd’s murder. “The ant pile and the whole city is on fire, and everyone’s buzzing with tense energy and anger. There’s so many people coming together, though, too, to stand up for a bigger cause.”

Then Hartley encountered the realization that most creatives encounter in times of social turbulence. It would be almost insensitive to talk about something else as if this isn’t taking up all the air, but at the same time, what could we possibly say that would give those hurting any remedy?

Or as she put it: “I didn’t even want to post anything on the internet then, because I felt like I didn’t have enough information, or my voice [and] thoughts didn’t matter or have enough worth or knowledge or wisdom to help anything.”

Between the racial unrest, the pandemic and the tail of the apex of the MeToo movement, it was all too much to simply ignore. In It’s Dread’s title track (which is fittingly played in a minor key), Hartley sings with such a cadence, but sonically and thematically, it’s not all murk and melancholy. The song “Jock Goth” was particularly inspired by 1990s dance pop and Europop. Hartley compared it to the soundtrack to A Night at the Roxbury. On songs like “Miss Milky Way’s Mental Breakdown,” Pearl Earl takes on a King Crimson flavor, between the blisteringly fuzzy chords and impeccably technical-yet-groovy drum fills. (Seriously, and we do not bestow this praise lightly: Chapman is a stellar drummer.)

On the single “Evil Does It,” the band plays a Blue Cheer-esque guitar solo over a wall of synths right before a krautrock-ish section breaks the tension and fades out. Osees keyboardist Tomas Dolas (who worked with Pearl Earl on the record) suggested to Chapman that she take on an “Iggy Pop 'Nightclubbing' vibe” while recording the track.

The composition, recording and production of these songs were all a strenuous process that involved many flights, Facetime rehearsal sessions and delays. In fact, all of It’s Dread had been completely recorded by December 2021, but it's not being released until June 22.

And now that the release is less than one month away, the remainder of the year has quite a docket in store for the band. Highlights include a main stage slot at this weekend’s Dallas Pride Fest and a first for the band: a European tour.

“[Touring internationally] is always what I wanted and envisioned to do,” Harley says. “Pearl Earl is my baby, and I do it out of love, but I think everyone else does it out of love, too, and we’re really excited to hopefully embark on a new chapter with this record.”

Does the use of words like “excited” and “hopefully” pair well with with conventional understandings of human emotion in the context of a record called It’s Dread? Probably not, but seeing as nothing makes sense and nothing we say can change that, it is certainly the right tenor to a fitting soundtrack.
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