Reviews of Pass the Poison...
While the internet-revolution has definitely helped young bands to reach a wider audience, it’s still rather unlikely to hit a real gem while digging through Myspace. So in all honesty, I couldn’t trust my ears the first time Banner Pilot from Minneapolis blasted through my speakers. The band’s raw musical roadside open-heart surgery has fascinated me from the first chord; needless to say I was totally psyched to finally hold the band’s new “Pass the Poison” release in my hands.
Banner Pilot exercise basic punk-rock tunes with raw edges, sincere lyrics, and addictive hook lines in such a splendid manner that the listener is instantly reminded of how few bands are actually able to exploit all the fascination that lies in this plain formula. With the audible love of music and enough musical skill to speed things up when necessary or to build things up as in “Portland Lights”, the band churns out eight tracks that leave absolutely no room for complaints. The recording is powerful and highlights the raw edges and Nate’s torn vocal-cords always find the right phrases and the right key to keep up a sustained aura of broken-heart melancholia from start to finish. And although the band is never afraid to incorporate some musical references to Jawbreaker, The Lawrence Arms, or The Buzzocks (most notably with the nice concluding cover of “Ever Fallen in Love”) the band has enough unique flavour to easily rebut all charges of plagiarism.
I truly believe that this band will ink a deal with a bigger label in the near future as I’m convinced that so much talent cannot go unnoticed. Highly recommended!
Wreck the Place
If it wasn't for their hockey team, Minnesota would be my favorite place in the United States. It's my favorite music-producing state, that's for sure. Every time a band pops up in the homeland of Paul Westerberg, Dillinger Four, and Bob Mould, I just want to issue a public letter of gratitude to the North Star state. There must be something in the water of those ten thousand lakes over there, because they've produced another one, this time in their very own Dillinger Four punk rock tradition. "Pass the Poison" is the seven-song (plus a bonus track) debut from Banner Pilot and they're probably the safest bet you could make on any band likely to sign to Fat Wreck Chords in the next year or however long it takes them to make their first full-length a reality. It's a melody-soaked piece of authentic new school punk rock, sung from the depths of the guts and throat, with a touch of intoxicatated haphazardness. If you love bass-picking and palm-muting as much as I do, Banner Pilot will be your spring 2006 love affair.
(8.5 out of 10)
For anyone who is not from the Upper Midwest, the first thing they will think about when it comes to the climate is how freaking cold it gets in the Winter. This is especially true when it comes to the frozen tundra of my home state of Minnesota. Hell, even Minneapolis won a Weather Channel countdown as the coldest city in America, easily beating out Chicago and Milwaukee.
However, no one ever think of the humid, mosquitoes as huge as cats, Summer in the land of 10,000 Lakes. Right now I'm sitting at work in an air conditioned office as the temperature outside soars to a rainforest sweatbox of 94 degrees. Yeah, it tends to get a little oppressive heat wise here in the Twin Cities. Although there may be days in the dog days of Summer where we may burst in a sweaty flame ball of gristle and State Fair food, it also when bands will venture here on their cross country tours of America. If the touring band is lucky enough they will get to play a show with new Minneapolis upstarts Banner Pilot at either The Triple Rock or probably in some shitty basement near the University of Minnesota.
Banner Pilot fits perfectly into the lexicon of modern Minnesota punk rock drawing influences from local booze hound heroes Dillinger Four as well taking hints from early Lookout! Records East Bay acts like Fifteen, Pinhead Gunpowder, and various Aaron Cometbus bands. Banner Pilot also adds some of the Midwestern emo sound of The Get Up Kids and then tops it off with gruff alcohol cigarette laced Blake Schwarzenbach vocals.
Pass the Poison is seven tracks of blazing melody fused punk rock that can be at times sloppy punk rock which only leads to Banner Pilot's overall charm. They even drop a few Twin Cities landmarks and street names which just makes Pass the Poison feel homey like a battered dirty Husker Du shirt worn inside a 7th Street Entry show after an afternoon walking through the walkways of the City Center.
Oddly enough I haven't seen Banner Pilot live even though they are only a stone's throw across the Mississippi from me. Hopefully some day I will be upfront singing along in some sweat drenched basement while the tiger sized mosquitoes suck the life out cattle and small children outside. I can imagine myself sharing a beer with the dudes in Banner Pilot as we all pray for a thunderstorm to cool us all off for one evening. Also, for those into covers, Pass the Poison has an excellent one of the Buzzcock's “Ever Fallen in Love.”
3.5 out of 5
Few things get me both excited and fulfilled like seeing a young band develop. I basically accused Banner Pilot of Lawrence Arms plagiarism regarding their 8-song demo -- I did like it, though. However, the band's freshly recorded EP, Pass the Poison, represents a more complete picture of Midwestern punk, drawing as much from TLA as it does Dillinger Four and early Jawbreaker, and what results are a bunch of good and a few great rough-edged pop-punk songs.
The re-recorded "Uptown Sleep Solution" is one of the best offerings here. The chords sound so basic yet so refreshing, and a punchy, effective chorus contained within. Its follower, "Sun Belt Scars" is fast-paced and throaty as anything here, while "River City Blackout" is another of the disc's outright stunning tracks -- feeling like a sequel to "Condition: Oakland," it's seamlessly ushered in by an audio clip of newsreel footage describing the event the song title implies and then painting a portrait of sincere reflection throughout. Their cover of Buzzcocks' "Ever Fallen in Love" is spot on as well.
The songwriting really stuns; "Portland Lights" offers picturesque narratives like "find myself walking by Tabor Park one Spring night / ... / these same Portland lights will help me find my way past wet blurred street signs / Some lawn at day I'll lay and pass out clutching cheap red wine." These dudes have the whole melancholic broken heart thing down beautifully, while they convey the same raw emotion through distorted guitars -- particularly in this song -- as Jawbreaker did so flawlessly.
Banner Pilot are surely beginning to understand how to integrate their influences so that they convey a perfect, unique spin on a style, and as the progression starts to take place, I can safely say it's going to be quite the ride.
Punk rock is by far nothing rare, or even new. There are a ton of bands still out there doing it, maybe not-so-well, but at least making worthy attempts. Like MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA's Banner Pilot and their debut EP Pass the poison.
The album is a 7 song (8 if you count the secret song) punk powerhouse, liable to have all the greasy, torn clothes, studded bracelet, coat and whatever the fuck else you can put metal studs on, kids circle pitting in an instant. I can easily say that this record is nothing new in the way of punk, but it certainly kicks a lot of better, known, "punk" bands asses. This is straight up dirty punk. I'm talking early Rancid meets Dillinger 4 and has a gangband with Alkaline Trio back in their less "emo" days.
With this spinning, or seeing Banner Pilot live there's no doubt if you fall in the pit you're going to get stomped until some kind citizen picks your ass up. If you're a fan of skatepunk, dirty punk, or just love anything with a punk touch, then this album is for you.
But, I must warn you: It's pretty short lived. The songs all pick up fast and end abruptly. Something common in punk, but with only 8 tracks it's kind of an upset. When I really get into a record, like I did here, I hate when it ends so fast. I don't like things to be dragged out, but I like them to run long enough for me to be satisfied. In the case of Pass The Poison I'd have to say I was totally satisfied by the songs, but when it ended before 20 minutes I was kind of upset. But, it's an EP right? So I should shut the fuck up and live with it... Another thing that bothered me was there was not funky breaks, or break downs, just constant thrashed punk tunes. I think some cool leads or something would have done for a more of a variety.
In all this is a worth while punk record, and a solid indipendent effort. So, Hellcat, Epitaph, Fat Wrecks reps...if you're reading this: Sign this fucking band!
There seems to be a growing number of bands lately with singers that sound exactly like Jason from Kid Dynamite. I think he's been running around the country, secretly dubbing over everyone's vocals. That being said, let's get on with the review. First, take elements of Screeching Weasel and The Lawrence Arms. Mix them with the ever steady and driving melody of NOFX and the raw passion of 88 Fingers Louie. Toss in a bit of scratchy hardcore singing and you have Banner Pilot. This debut release, Pass The Poison, brings these guys out of the gate fast and strong while still showing a lot of potential for future growth. The last track is a cover of “Ever Fallen In Love” by The Buzzcocks. Sure a lot of bands have covered this song but Banner Pilot is the only band I've ever heard that doesn't play the song exactly how The Buzzcocks played it. My only problem with Pass The Poison is that it's only 8 songs long. I believe that fans of the bands mentioned above would be inclined to agree.