MP3 Pleasant - Awkward as a Beehive
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12 MP3 Songs
ROCK: 90's Rock, POP: Power Pop
Sean Parker, Maria Albani, Mario Gonzalez & Eric Hermann
Pleasant is the flagship quirky-indie-pop band of the Chapel Hill music scene, which is probably why they've been recruited to share the stage with many great touring bands who swing through the area: Blonde Redhead, John Vanderslice, Pinback, My Morning Jacket, Imperial Teen, and others.
Driven by lead-singer Sean Parker's strange and dark creative vision and his and Mario Gonzalez's clever, yet understated,guitar interplay, Pleasant has been entertaining Triangle music fans since 2000. With their slightly askew yet always compelling aesthetic, they've earned comparisons to Modest Mouse, The Pixies, and The Talking Heads.
Since their inception, they've self-released several records which became local-radio favorites. Their new record, Awkward as a Beehive, they recorded with producer/engineers Zeno Gill (The Rosebuds, Portastatic, Des Ark, Schooner) and Jeff Byrd (Pinback, Tarentel). The 12-song collection is a joyful adventure through the sometimes lighthearted, sometimes Southern Gothic, world of Pleasant, complete with spacecraft-shaped mobile homes and fireflies with broken hearts. In addition to their trademark intertwining guitars, the band adds more dimension with the occasional saw,afuche, wind wand,and xylophone. And of course Sean Parker's distinctive, playful vocals lend an adolescent charm to the songs.
Awkward as a Beehive takes the listener to a perfect place somewhere in between giddy naivité and morbid self-reflection.
"...the area's currently most fun and original band.... Pleasant alternates cucumber-cool grooves with crunchy guitar jams, cooed male-female vocals with uproarious howls."
"The male lead has a great, expressive, distinctive vocal style, sort of like a 13-year-old whose voice is changing, but with excellent control and timing. Highly recommended." - Brian Howe, The Spectator
"Pleasant are one of those bands about whom people are always coming up to me and saying, "Man, Pleasant are really great," and I can't help but indulge the impulse to say "I told you so." But I try to be nice about it. They're skittish and their vocals go up occasionally into a wonderful screechy falsetto, and they've got a bit of that Feelies/Pixies young-white-nervousness going on about them." - TriangleRock
"...some of the most engaging power pop I have heard in quite awhile. Sean Parker (guitar/vocals) lets wail with a shrill but powerful voice as the band propels him forward through catchy hooks and downright danceable melodies. It's refreshing to see a band firmly entrenched in the power pop traditions fostered by the likes of The Wedding Present or The Clean." - M. David Hall, The Spectator
Soundbites - LP Review by Grayson Currin
Oh, this is dangerous territory: that nervous voice, that slightly-off kilter, highly emotive, frazzled-and-showing tone that creeps into the fronting vocals of rock bands, particularly those of indie ilk. It can make the best songs unlistenable and the best bands doomed for anonymity or infamy. But not Pleasant. To the credit of all four pieces in this Chapel Hill band, frontman Sean Parker sports one of those love-or-hate voices, and he works it. Clap your hands. Say yes!
His unique aire--nasal, convoluted--is the band's biggest asset that, for many, can be its foible, too. But Parker rides it perfectly on Pleasant's excellent sophomore album, Awkward as a Beehive. In fact, he even seems to comment on it himself during "Everything Here's Gold," singing "Awkwardness will set you free ... I'm as awkward as a beehive." Parker contorts and twists his voice the most here, hitting falsettos and bending melodies with every chance.
The band handles it, laying away from big solos in favor of Parker's vocal bandleading and melody-making, certainly for the better. His vocals are expertly tracked by Jeff Byrd (Spoon, John Vanderslice) and Zeno Gill against those of bassist Maria Albani, whose supple, sunny, sometimes sullen harmonies are more about tone and effect than content. A reggae pulse and snare snap run alongside a prototypical indie guitar line and Parker's Eric Bachmann-in-a-vacuum singing during "The Embellishment," as Albani chants "Hello, hello, hello" like a pop princess. Three elements become seamless, demonstrating that pulling in different directions while traveling down the same road can work.
As such, things come together on this Pleasant record: Good songs meet shifting aims and confident arrangements, supported by strong production. Better yet, these are 11 patient tracks, none pushing their weight or melodies too fast: Extra bars are added for thoughtful time signature shifts, as on "Longtime," which pauses before allowing for a burst of feedback guitar, á la Yo La Tengo, pushing the song into another chorus and driving home the point of it all: "Maybe ideas will take you there."
Ideas, indeed: They may think it's awkward, but being Pleasant has never been this eloquent.
About Music- DAVE HEATON
October 10, 2005
Pleasant, Awkward As a Beehive (Pox World Empire)
Sometimes it's starting to feel like North Carolina's one of the few places where the indie-rock/college rock styles of the '90s are still thriving, between people like Lou Barlow and Spoon finding a home on Merge Records and North Carolina bands like much of the Pox World Empire roster pushing forward with a sound that's very much rooted in that era. On their latest album Awkward as a Beehive (their Pox World debut), Pleasant exude the feeling of that style of rock, without sounding derivative of any one band. Occasionally I hear whiffs of Pavement or Polvo or Modest Mouse, but they don't last long enough to override the group's own personality. The passionate but not sentimental tone, the unity and tightness among the guitar, bass, and drums, the emotional yet suitably mysterious lyrics, the way the guitars will melt into the sound but then leap out, Sean Parker's helter-skelter yet sort of mellow singing voice...all of this echoes favorite music of the past in a pleasurable way while also forming a distinct sound for Pleasant, a sound that's familiar but completely fresh. The songs feel alive and immediately like good friends. You don't necessarily know where they're going (take the horns and chorus of singers at the end of "Monster" as the most drastic example), yet when they get there it feels natural. The album's is brilliance is low-key, it's not slapping you in the face. Yet it's brilliance nonetheless. It's everyday music, a great album to throw on and just enjoy where it takes you. Awkward As a Beehive is an album that sounds decent the first time you listen to it, really good the second, but goddamn fantastic by the third. - dave heaton
The Daily Tar Heel
Soundbites - MARTA OSTROWSKI
September 15, 2005
Nothing awkward about Pleasant release
On first listen to Pleasant's Awkward as a Beehive, there are striking similarities to The Cure. But dive further into the album and you'll find the group has its own, unmistakably clever sound.
The album provides a medley of light-hearted tracks alongside innovative guitar chords. The sound would fit nicely into the Chapel Hill music scene with its unmistakable cool grooves.
Lead singer Sean Parker's acute voice carries itself well, providing high-pitched vocals that give the record its unique, catchy and youthful flare.
But don't let the innocent voice fool you. The creative and lyrics shadow a history of angst and heartbreak.
The dynamic co-ed vocals, accompanied by Maria Gonzalez, craft the unique album into a balanced brew of macho yelps and feminine chirps.
Awkward as a Beehive begins with the inviting and catchy opener, "Welcome Come In." With mellow beats and a funky vocal sound, the first song draws listeners in for more.
The third track, "Strange," is one of the more somber anthems. Tranquil and delicate, the song exposes the artist's vulnerability while including a deep and assertive attitude. The well placed piano beats exhibit the song's artistic achievement.
In contrast, "Everything Hereâs Gold" proves to be one of those songs that just somehow gets glued in your head- without any annoying bubbly lyrics-and provides a quirky and intelligent chorus.
"Longtime" blends a set of heavy guitar chords and an intertwining vocal sound that can almost be mistaken for a mainstream song, but-luckily-the track is much too fresh to be stereotyped as simple radio fodder.
Even the last track of the album, with a mere 27-second running time and the underwhelming name "Untitled," is one of the more memorable tracks. It is completely instrumental, with a beautiful string solo.
Awkward as a Beehive, though clearly an eccentric album, uses the geeky yet equally edgy elements of its vocals and instrumentation to form a solid artistic accomplishment
January Music Reviews
As another piece of evidence that the Triangle has the best indie scene anywhere comes this brilliant full-length from Chapel Hill's Pleasant. Comprised of Sean Parker, Eric Hermann, Maria Albani, and Mario Gonzalez, Pleasant offer up twelve quirky, jangly indie rock numbers that have near perfect ingredients of catchiness, pop and tempo on Awkward as a Beehive. Pleasant are another example of the many bands that I missed out on while buried in that school thing. Now that I'm a thousand miles away, I'm enviable of people catching Pleasant opening for the big name indie touring acts. Anyway...Awkward as a Beehive is chock-full of glorious moments, not the least of which come courtesy of "Welcome Come In," "Fight Song," the dazzling "Lowly" and the cool wordy "Everything Here's Gold." Many of these highlights are due to Parker's enticing vocal cadence and intertwining guitars of Parker and Gonzalez. If Pleasant are able to hit indie hot spots such as Athens (GA), Chicago, Omaha and Portland, they'd be huge. Clearly, Pleasant is one of your favorite bands that you've never heard of https://www.tradebit.comp://https://www.tradebit.com
Left Off the Dial
Recently I have come into the good fortune of accidentally settling into an exciting music and art-intense community. Among the many amazing bands in the area, Pleasant are helping to give new life to what had become the depleted soil of Chapel Hill. Since 2000 theyâve been playing in the area, recording and fine-tuning their sound into a brand of upbeat, yet dark, masterful pop. With the help of producer Zeno Gill (Rosebuds, Portastatic, Des Ark, etc.) and Jeff Byrd (Spoon, Pinback, etc), they have unleashed a beautiful, full album of twelve non-compromising tracks.
Each track, just as rich as the last, offers subtle yet sometimes jagged back-and-forth guitar play, backdrop bass, and easy, relaxed drumming. The focal point certainly seems to be Sean Parkerâs vocals and lyrics. At times when he leaves his disheartened croon, he has this jittery quality to his voice, almost as though heâs taunting us; heâs letting us know that at any moment he could switch over into that disco yelp for which heâs itching. Though mellow and slower, the beats and bass-lines are there, waiting in the dark to slip into a heavy disco groove on queue.
On the more serious side, Pleasant does maintain that true-to-Chapel Hill 90s sound, though the guitars are a bit more hushed. The music and even the odd, unconventional vocal melodies (which are great) recount ghosts from the mid-90s college scene. Make no mistake though, Pleasant is not a rehash group caught in the glory of old.
I guess itâs hard these days to grow up as a band in the North Carolina Triangle and hide/ignore your townâs roots. Thereâs always that hurtle of âremember those daysâ that a town like this strives to move past. After an area has been so fertile and overgrown, itâs hard to nurture new bands into the time. I think Pleasant does it quite well, and there is an obvious respect to the elders of yester-decade, but thereâs an untapped and exciting quality lying underneath.
This is definitely going into the book as one of the more pop-driven albums of the year that Iâve loved. With each listen Iâm left wishing I knew the lyrics better, so I could join in Sean and Mariaâs (bass & backing vocals) fun. Iâll just go to their next show and pretend I know the lyrics; Iâll be the guy on the side that is pretending to know them but for some reason, wonât stop mouthing the wrong shapes. Yes! I will be the fool. The pleasantly smiling fool. Viva Pox!
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