Review Summary: Oliver Under the Moon proves that Pistolita can be good when they try, unfortunately it doesn't happen much.
I love music festivals. Since there are normally only so many bands that I plan on seeing it gives me a chance to check out some new talents. The first Bamboozle Left offered me many a chance to see bands that I was not already familiar with, and out of the number of acts that I got acquainted with that day, two stood out among the rest: The Fall of Troy and Pistolita. I promptly picked up their respective CDs from their merch booths so I could listen to them on the hour long journey back home. The first CD I put on for the drive was Pistolita's Oliver Under the Moon
, and the first thing I noticed was that while Pistolita's live show was tight, energetic and refreshing, their recorded work, on the other hand, was rather lackluster.
To put it simply, Pistolita sound like if Brand New decided to incorporate piano and stole a couple of vocal melodies from the Beatles in the process. Unfortunately for Pistolita, their vocalist/lyricist Conor Meads is no Jesse Lacey. Lyrically the album is full of bad, nonsensical teenage poetry. Lines like, “but her body just shatters like glass/ her porcelain face in my hands/ alone in the dark i collapse,” make it pretty clear that the vocal patterns were placed well above the content of the lyrics in matters of importance. In many places this creates rough edges with oddly stressed syllables and words purposely omitted to fit the preconceived vocal melodies. His voice has two modes – For the softer parts his voice is a whiny and off key yelp that is reminiscent of what has become the standard in mass-produced Pop Punk over the last few years, and for the heavier parts he creates a shout that is somewhere in between Jesse Lacey's scream and Conor Oberst's “pissed off” voice. Neither are that pleasant to listen to but out of the two, the latter just seems to work better.
Much like the vocals, the music comes in two modes as well, soft or loud. The softer parts on the album rely heavily on the interplay between the piano and the vocals and the heavy parts consist of lower register chords being belted out on piano and the guitarist strumming his power chords and octaves just that much heavier so that it seems like it has some balls. With only these two styles at play, by the time you have listened to the first four tracks you pretty much have heard all the band has to offer.
Thats not to say that entire album is without its moments. “Big Shot” is the first of the two back to back standout tracks on Oliver Under the Moon
. “Big Shot” never loses the fun atmosphere of the jangly piano in the intro throughout its three and a half minute run time and it also has the only chorus on the album that has any sing-a-long factor to it. The next track “Age” is the most aggressive song on the album due mostly to the guitar being given the ability to shine. The main riff of the song builds into an effects laden crescendo that just makes you think, “Why cant the rest of the album be like this?”
According to the band's Wikipedia page, their bassist, Alex Kuhse, left the band to be the the bass tech and student of the legendary Joey DeMaio of Manowar, causing the band to call it quits soon after. Congratulations Alex, you made the right choice.
Instead of getting the entire album just download "Big Shot", "Age", "Panic", and "Pity Refrain" and call it a day.