Pike 27, a mainstay of the early Cincinnati music scene led by songwriter/guitarist, David 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 a host of awards and notice from influential music magazine, No Depression. The limited edition EP will get a soft release with a stripped down holiday show Thursday December 11 at the Listing Loon, Northside (Show starts 7:00pm). A full-on release celebration is planned for January 24, 2015 at The Drinkery in Over-the-Rhine.
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 this January.
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