Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Banner Pilot - 'Collapser'

Go buy Banner Pilot’s new album Collapser. Because it’s gonna be a while before those drunks in Dillinger Four drop another gravelly, Midwestern pop punk masterpiece.

OK, let me expound on that. This Minnesotan gang of band sluts dropped their Fat Wreck debut this month (second album overall, give or take a few EPs), and it’s arguably their strongest release to date. Sound engineers Jacques Wait and Dave Gardner buff out the band’s rough edges a bit. Vocalist Nick Johnson still sounds gruff, but Banner Pilot doesn’t resemble the Lawrence Arms and Jawbreaker circa Unfun so much anymore. What’s left is not unlike D4 circa their Fat years – catchy and rocking.

I’m a big fan of the two-hit combo; records that open with two tracks so utterly awesome that you want to passionately embrace something ridiculous, like a bear or the moon. Collapser hits listeners with the Dragon Punch that is “Central Standard” and then catches them Hadōken-style with “Pensacola.” Granted, they’re both about falling out with friends, but they still got the beat to move yer feet. It almost doesn’t matter what happens after these two songs. They’re everything pop punk should be – short (“Central Standard” is less than three minutes long; “Pensacola” less than two) ‘n’ sweet.

Greenwood” carries those good vibes some more before Collapser starts to hit an early fatigue. “Starting at an Ending” is a little slower, and therefore a little less awesome. All the D4 elements are still in play – gruff vox, a hook or two, and lyrics about drankin’ – but the tempo kind of kills the album’s momentum. “Skeleton Key” similarly doesn’t start out balls-to-the-wall-blasting, but it soon kicks the bpms back up. And then the record pretty much goes back to bliss.

There’s not a single dud on the album’s back half. “Farewell to Bastards” has an infectious opening guitar hook. “Write It Down” is a perfect closing track, building itself into a fury. If anything, its final 90 seconds might be indicative of a knack for more expansive songwriting. If these guys turn out to have a Bivouac in them, I will be thoroughly excited. Thoroughly. “Empty Lot” is wicked fast. “Hold Me Up” is just straight up delicious.

So anyway, like I was saying…D4 yes please buy now.

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