PINE – Pine
Released late in 2005, Pine is the first release from the veteran musicians that comprise the band of the same name. Pine was formed in 2004 and consists of three members of Johnny Rocker and the High Rollers as well as Lube’s Mike “Buzz” Buzzell on lead vocals. Aaron Jacobs (Sin City Injectors/Road Agent Spin) adds bass along with Bill Ruef. There are no individual song credits, so it’s difficult to know which bassist plays on which track and the same is true for guest performances from Robb Wise, Dan Meyers, and Muzzy Luctin’s Paul Schluter, who also helped engineer the disc. Since the album was recorded, James Jones (Fisticuffs U.K.) has joined as the steady bassist. Two of the band’s members, drummer Scott Theis and guitarist Mike Delp, once were the rhythm section of the Wizenheimers.
Pine’s style is in a similar, Muzzy Luctin-type vein; driving, melodic rock with the emphasis on vocals and song structure and very little soloing. In fact, the first singular guitar line doesn’t appear until track six, “More Than Me,” and that line is followed by a striking slide-guitar solo. More of that, please! Pine doesn’t quite reach the grand pinnacles that Muzzy does and there is an element of sameness to the riff-intensive compositions.
But each song has a redeeming element to it that overshadows the familiarity and simplicity of the fundamental guitar licks upon which they are built. Only the hidden track at the end of the disc breaks the mold by employing a sparse arrangement of acoustic guitar, keys and vocals. Their cover of the Bruce Springsteen song “I’m on Fire” sounds like a return to the Wizenheimer beer-tent days. Everything else signals a musical progression for the individual members.
Without question, Pine’s strong suit is the vocals, as evidenced immediately by the sweet “LC,” which serves as an intro to the feedback-drenched “Another Perfect Day,” a song that was nominated for Best Rock Song at the MAMAs. Throughout the disc there are catchy, melodic choruses that will stick in your head, primarily driven by the vocals. Buzzell isn’t a screamer or a shrieker, he’s a singer and a pretty good one, although he sometimes stretches while reaching for the higher notes. The backups are lush and prominent and this is what sets Pine apart from the alt-rock crowd.
Theis also gets a chance to display his proficiency. The elementary polka beats of the Wizenheimers and the straight-four repetition of the High Rollers are eschewed here, and he demonstrates just what an effective powerhouse of a drummer he can be with these more challenging arrangements.
Pine isn’t breaking any molds here but the album is a solidly enjoyable collection that should satisfy immensely when cranked up in the car, windows down, Wayfarers on.