The Pinstripes - Higher Ground
Release Date: August 25th, 2006
Record Label: Unsigned
If there's one, dynamic quality with the power to save any record from being overlooked, a sense of buoyancy would undoubtedly be it, or at least in the eyes of this critic. Yet, while the brand new release from Cincinnati, Ohio's Pinstripes is stunningly jubilant, the positive energy is but one of a neverending pile of favourable compliments at hand. On Higher Ground, the group's long-awaited, follow-up effort, these seven musicians present an album jam-packed with exciting, enthralling, and memorable material, all the while solidifying a signature sound that's proved to stand as undeniably attractive.
Yet, no matter how far from the trail one entrepreneur may stray, the chances of stumbling upon an entirely unanimous, original form of art are few and far between. As a matter of fact, while Higher Ground demonstrates a fresh, innovative view of a "fading" art form, one can't help but recall the now-deceased Save Ferris, whom were once classified as leaders of the third-wave ska movement. While the band's formula is exceedlingly adjacent, The Pinstripes execute their own unique, glamorous spark that's sure to drive dance hall regulars wild.
The disc opens itself with "You Ain't Sorry", a quirky, intoxicating blast of encouragement for any listener. Furthermore, it's spontaniously evident that the seven-piece act has wasted no time in finding their mould, and the end product has never sounded more appealing. Candace Washburn, the band's now-departed lead vocalist, bestows a range and essence that's bound to make any female vocalist envious, and her bright, cheerful tone sets the course for the record beautifully. On "Walk Like A Jamaican", the band's three-piece horn section, which consists of trumpeter Ben Pitz, saxophonist Mike Sarason, and trombonist Chap Sowash, display their irresistable, remarkable capability, and the fragment's arrangements are continuously phenomenal.
However, while it's crystal-clear that the group hold a knack for composing infectious, blithesome melodies, repitition has never been as easy curse to ignore. Thankfully, The Pinstripes embark on several hazardous quests before Higher Ground brings itself to a close. Luckily for the Ohio septet, the outcomes are often exquisite, and the array of material outside the band's favourable niche is a welcome breath of fresh air. For example, on "Swing You All Around", the assembly lean in a frenetic, swing-oriented direction, and the final concoction is fabulous. The song features both Washburn and Sarason (who breaks the surface on select tracks, in turn augmenting the band's assortment) trading off vocal duties. While the aforementioned is well-suited to the frontwoman position, Sarason's vocals are equally impressive, and the dual effect is immeditately captivating. On "Next To Me", Sarason takes center stage as he guides listeners through an acoustic love-ballad ("So, come on, baby, just get next to me. There's no limit to what we could be."), as well as offers his audience an alternate perspective. While the soulful serenade may feel uncomfortably out of place amongst the record's jovial executions, the track alone is surprisingly monumental. It truly is a shame to learn that so many acts feel obligated to include a stripped-down, "slow" song, but it's a treat to know an unsigned act can perform an expected inclusion magnificently, and even more importantly with ease.
On the other hand, specific compositions on Higher Ground do very little to further the record's enjoyment, and while these questionable recipes aren't complete failures, they certainly are forgotten without trouble. For example, songs like "You Say", which should by no means be considered unsuccessful attempts, will surely be overlooked amongst the remainder of the record's coruscating components. Fortunately, the awe-inspiring melodies far outweigh the less than desirable moments, and the band perform at a level worthy of pure admiration.
But, as a whole, The Pinstripes have widened my eyes to the world of independent music, and that's a feat any act should be proud of. Higher Ground is, without a doubt, one of the most impressive, commendable, and downright dazzling offerings a label-free group has ever constructed. The hooks shine at every opportunity, the instrumentation is impeccable, and the overall presentation is near flawless. While it's sad knowing the world has turned a blind eye to the Ohio septet thus far, I assure each and every one of you that if this critic was stationed behind a desk, I'd have these tremendous, young musicians signing a contract in no time.
hmm, I've never heard of them before, but I like what I hear on their purevolume.
You said their singer is "now-departed," what's the story there?
I'm not entirely sure. I was speaking with Matt, their saxophonist, and he told me she quit the band. It was directly after their most recent tour, so I would assume it had something to do with not being able to handle life on the road. But, that's just my best guess, so don't quote me. :)
this didn't sound like my traditional jams but i enjoyed the review so i checked out their myspace. the horn section sounds pretty good, but i think they need to turn up the bass a little to give them a bit of a 'fatter' sound. all'n'all pretty sweet though