Album Review
Blind Pilot - iTunes Session EP Album Cover

Blind Pilot - iTunes Session EP

Reviewed by
Blind Pilot -iTunes Session EP
Record Label: Expunged Records
Release Date: Dec., 29, 2009
This review was written by an AP.net staff member.
The music world was thrown for a loop in 2008 when Oregon natives Israel Nebeker and Ryan Dubowski hit the Pacific Coast with just their instruments and bicycles. Opting to save costs, the duo, who go by the name Blind Pilot, traveled from venue to venue with just their two feet and their bikes. Touring in support of their debut album 3 Rounds and a Sound , the novel approach brought the band hordes of attention and positive acclaim. It didn't hurt that 3 Rounds and a Sound was also a mellow collection of alt. country that fused rustic instrumentation with sugar-sweet harmonies. The acclaim led to the band opening for the likes of Gomez, The Decemberists, The Hold Steady and Counting Crows. Their single "Go On Say It," even netted two million downloads on iTunes. A band that began their career riding their bikes went on to sell out headlining dates at venues such as Chicago's Schuba's and New York City's Mercury Lounge.

This iTunes only live EP recorded last month was produced and mixed by Tucker Martine (The Decemberists, Death Cab for Cutie, REM) and represented the group's first studio venture with the band's newly expanded sextet arrangement. Opening with Gillian Welch's "Look at Miss Ohio," Blind Pilot lets the new musicians' impact be felt from the very first seconds. Three-part acapella vocal harmonies and Nebeker's country croon make for a perfect complement to Welch's original. When Ian Krist's vibraphone kicks in halfway through the song reveals itself to be an absolute treasure. Second track "The Story I Heard," follows and is accented by Kati Claborn's banjo, a rousing acoustic guitar and Nebeker's spot-on vocals. Dave Jorgensen's trumpet towards the end gives the song a breathability and a zest that was never felt this deeply on 3 Rounds and a Sound.

That very sentiment is repeated on the Ryan Adams-esque "One Red Thread," and again on the chill-inducing "3 Rounds and a Sound." Easily the album's best moment, it's an arrangement and a performance that can quite easily define the band's career. Let it be known that musicians might spend 20 years trying to execute a song this poetically. With intimate vocals, tender guitarwork and gauzy textures, "3 Rounds and a Sound," is a crowning achievement and proof positive that the newly expanded lineup might just be the catalyst to spring this band into the stratosphere. Equal parts poignant, passionate and timeless, the song is buttressed by a lilting trumpet near the end.

The EP ends with the sweetly rousing "Get it Out," the effort's only new song and a harbinger of the advancement of the band's craft since the release of their debut. In the end, there's no way of denying the potency in these five songs. This is flawless musicianship aided by sterling production and stunning vocal clarity. In under 30 minutes Blind Pilot has presented an amalgamation of sturdy roots-folk that is wistful, reflective and exhilirating. Neberker's ruminative musings on the human psyche are buoyed by feathery melodies and his dulcet vocals. If this is just the beginning, the anticipation for where this ends up is maddening.

Blind Pilot is Ian Krist: vibraphone
Kati Claborn: dulcimer, banjo, vocals
Dave Jorgensen: Rhodes piano, harmonium, trumpet
Luke Ydstie: upright bass, vocals
Israel Nebeker: vocals, guitar
Ryan Dubowski: drums

Track Listing 1. Look at Miss Ohio (Gillian Welch)
2. The Story I Heard
3. One Red Thread
4. 3 Rounds and a Sound
5. Get It Out

Recommended If You Like Whiskeytown, The Gourds, The New Frontiers, Good Old War

Find Them Here Myspace
Displaying posts 1 - 11 of 11
10:01 AM on 01/27/10
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mmitrick's Avatar
Thank you for reviewing this...I absolutely love these guys. The Three Rounds rendition is chilling and beautiful, as you mentioned. Now I have to see them live.
12:57 PM on 01/27/10
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h8bit's Avatar
I want some new material from these guys! This was the first album I ever bought off of iTunes because i thought it was so good.
02:25 PM on 01/27/10
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NorthstarPark's Avatar
I saw them live in October of last year, I was in a trance watching them. They put on one of the best live shows I have ever seen. I need to download this as I am in love with this great band.
03:28 PM on 01/27/10
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yeah, three rounds is awesome. Glad to hear they got new stuff out.
01:07 PM on 01/28/10
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raychull's Avatar
So good.
08:38 PM on 01/28/10
Grammercy Riffs
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Sounds very cool
02:15 AM on 01/29/10
When I die, rap dies; Destiny Bond.
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Argentine's Avatar
That's a great story right there. Two guys travel around bicycles playing music that makes sense to them. That's awesome.
12:33 PM on 02/03/10
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RX XR's Avatar
Hmm, might have to check this out..
02:46 AM on 02/06/10
i must have read a thousand faces
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provethatIexist's Avatar
haven't heard this yet, but 3 Rounds was great. will definitely find time to buy this.

this band puts on one hell of a live show as well.
12:52 PM on 02/13/10
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steveC's Avatar
i'm glad to hear that they're good live. i've only heard the studio album (which i thought was phenomenal), but everything i hear about them makes me love them more and more. can't wait to check this out now

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