(Sub Pop) In late 2015, after signing a deal with legendary Seattle record label Sub Pop, Athens/Atlanta alternative act Pinecones went through a major shift in identity. Changing its name to Arbor Labor Union, the four-piece quietly shifted from the more aggressive post-punk tones of its debut, Sings For You Now, and began incorporating elements of old-school Southern rock and Americana.
The band’s transformation culminates with the release of its sophomore LP, I Hear You, a tight, nine-track album full of ambitious, occasionally staggering rock music. Those initially drawn to the band for its punk-flavored sound may be disappointed; the guttural screams and occasional dips into hardcore are nearly completely absent here. However, songs like “Hello Transmission” and “Volume Peaks” are total barn-burners that showcase a band incredibly confident about its sound, and they serve as a convincing justification for the band veering from its original path.
If there’s any glaring weak spot on I Hear You, it’s singer and guitarist Bo Orr’s vocals. While Orr is a competent punk performer, it’s evident on these recordings that his voice was not built for soaring, stadium-level rock. Thankfully, it seems the band is aware of Orr’s limitations and knows when to have him tone it down in favor of emphasizing the group’s strong, occasionally face-melting instrumentals.
ARBOR LABOR UNION Atlanta/Athens-based band that works with repetitious riffs and post-punk rhythms. Formerly known as Pinecones. See Record Review on p. 14.
SHADE Dissonant, groove-oriented local post-punk band.
LINDA Athens-based pop-punk band featuring members of Deep State and Bathrooms.