One of my friend’s mothers used to always remind us to “Make good choices” whenever we went out. So with that said you should all make a good choice by listening to Buffalo’s own Pentimento, who recently signed to Paper + Plastick Records and finally released a physical copy of their self-titled debut full length. Characterized by mid-tempo melodic punk, the boys in Pentimento consistently put out some of the most earnest and worthwhile music around. With an EP, a split with Young English, and now an LP the band has plenty of great songs to choose from, but here’s five you should start with.
1. “Maybe, Just Maybe” from Wrecked
[youtube width=”720″ height=”80″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GIMaorqt3U0[/youtube]
The strongest and arguably most intricate track off of Pentimento’s debut EP Wrecked, “Maybe, Just Maybe” is an obvious choice for this list. The track opens with signature Pentimento catchy riffs, topped off with the supple fills that drummer Mike Hansen does so well. However, the highlight of this song is the haunting crescendo midsong that parallels guitarist Jerry Pauly and bassist Vinny Caito trading off the lines “Call me a liar, call me a mistake” and “Well, maybe you got what you deserved” respectively. And if these lyrics weren’t good enough already, Hansen finishes the song with the sincere beauty of the lines “Where is your heart tonight? Which bed does it hide under now? I hope you get answers from your mirrors with overtones.”
2. “Conscience (Consequence)” from Pentimento
From my perspective one of Pentimento’s greatest assets is their lyrics; Hansen has a knack for blending the simplest of words into strings of subtle complex ideas that hit one’s emotions like a hockey stick to the heart. And that is exactly what he does on this track, which I feel is their strongest lyrical and musical endeavor to date. I’m especially fond of this song because Hansen adds his own vocals to the mix, providing what seems to me a perfect example of the “Mel Yell” as popularized by NoFX guitarist Eric Melvin. Hansen screams the line “I can’t stay stuck like this forever” with the utmost level of urgency and desperation, giving listeners something they can attach themselves to – something real and heartfelt.
3. “L’esprit De L’escalier (The Stairs)” from Pentimento/Young English Split
[youtube width=”720″ height=”80″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0nzukf0mInY[/youtube]
So rarely does a drummer take the forefront in a song, but in “The Stairs” Mike Hansen absolutely dominates his five-piece drumkit with intricate rolls, beats and an overall passion that is screaming to be noticed. Guitarist Lance Claypool supplements this with some major hooks and some gritty riffage that would make the boys in Hot Water Music jealous. As if this weren’t enough, Pauly adds the pièce de résistance with the biting line “There are things in this life that are not what they seem / like the things that you say and what they actually mean. / Tell me I’m wrong! Tell me I’m wrong!” which is immediately followed by Hansen’s classy, yet forceful use of the double bass pedal.
4. “The Bridge” from Pentimento
Words actually don’t give either the acoustic or electric version of this song the justice they deserve. But if they did they’d be “All we are, is blood and bones; and sometimes a soul.” I’ll let you kids figure this one out for yourselves.
5. “Subtle Words” from Pentimento
Utilizing a lap steel guitar and a string section aren’t things normally done by punk bands, but Pentimento pull this off no problem and hit their audience in the heartstrings with “Subtle Words.” The track demonstrates the group’s diversity, as they don’t allow genre clichés to constrict their own artistic vision. Pauly scales back his normally coarse voice to accentuate the somber and often self-loathing mood of the song, waiting until two minutes to lead the band in an all-out crescendo of pure passion, screaming the words “Oh, what subtle words you use to make things up / About the ways you swear that I’ve changed. / But I don’t feel shame for not feeling guilt for what I’ve become. / Until I’m bones in a box, I never will. / I never have. I never will. / I never. . . “ that make for a perfectly haunting ending.