PGP 2 finds Pinnick Gales Pridgen back again, and perhaps they've not only beaten the sophomore jinx, maybe they've beaten even their superb first effort.
In a time in which many are saying that even to consider making an album is a misguided move fraught with danger, dUg Pinnick puts out four records that stand proudly beside anything in his catalogue. People say the guitar is a tired and dying instrument, but somehow Eric Gales makes music sound undiscovered and beautiful every time he picks up his axe. Drums have been a thing of the past ever since rap raised its head, yet Thomas Pridgen remains inventive and vital in a host of various genres and bands. Rock Ain't Near Dead - and it was never proven with more aplomb than on PGP 2, the second effort by Pinnick Gales Pridgen. The Left Hand Gang is back, and they are bad.
It was less than eighteen months ago when in January 2013, I made the unprecedented call that Pinnick Gales Pridgen's debut album would be my Album Of The Year for 2013, and indeed, none topped it in my eyes and ears. 2014 may be a stronger year for albums, and it may be too early to declare a king, but PGP 2 is top shelf, and will most certainly find its way onto many top tens.
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Where the band's debut steered more towards high powered blues rock and hard rock jams, PGP 2 is often more psychedelic and melodic, even though the band walked into the studio with little prepared - the songwriting comes across as more developed, but all the fireworks and virtuosity remains the same. Pinnick has managed to write four albums of excellent songs in less than two years, while Eric Gales has continued to rise in stature with each release, and Thomas Pridgen keeps driving every band he plays with to greater heights.
Every Step Of The Way is another 'from the heart' piece of lyric writing from Pinnick who never fails to display his heart proudly on his sleeve as he supports his friends in addiction. The band is out of the gate firing on all cylinders - Pinnicks bass propels and pumps as Gales plays great rock riffs as if he could do it in his sleep. Pridgen does a brilliant job of playing just behind a bit to keep it all on the rails. Powerful, melodic, and meaningful - could we ask for anything more?
Eric Gales has been on a slow rise since returning to the scene a few years back, and on It's Not My Time To Die, he displays just why I find him so brilliant. Along with a solid rock riff running through it, Gales fills every spec with guitar delights, whether in the form of slash and burn soloing, or in his string section emulations - I'll use the word genius here. His creativity never ceases to amaze, and he's constantly reinventing the stock library of blues, rock, and jazz riffs. Pinnick sings like a bird here, and his angelic softness offsets the tune's heaviness in fine, fine fashion.
Psychofunkadelic Blues? This may well be what Hendrix may have sounded like in 2014. Pridgen plays like an eight armed machine on this one, and he drives Gales and Pinnick into a fury of bludgeoning rock. Gales wears out his wah pedal, and it's a brilliant workout. I can't wait to see this one played live.
Things slow down and go the the East for the sitar soaked Watchman, that sounds like a lost track from a science fiction version of O' Brother Where Art Thou. Country rock raga? Sure why not - in these hands it sounds damned natural, and when dUg's huge bass tones join the fray next to Pridgen's military snare, it's sublime. "Hate the hatred, where no love can last," will certainly be one of my favorite lines of the year. These guys make it all sound easy, and they sound like they are having some big fun. Gales is a melodic as he is brutal, and I wonder where the limits might be to his playing. Maybe our best right now.
Things stay slow with the gorgeous chorale that rings in Have You Cried, but they soon pick up as the band rocks their way into a brontosaurus stomp that signals the verses of this tune that seems to morph and change like a chameleon in a kaleidoscope. They know every trick in the book, and they toss them about like magicians at midnight. One of the beautiful things about this band is that they never take a minute off - they are on the job at every turn, and they remain relentless throughout.
PGP does power pop? Like You Used To Do may just be their Cheap Trick moment, and again, they nail it while updating it and tailoring the form to their particular skill set. I can just imagine this going down in the studio as each member looks at the other and says, 'Oh yeah, I get that, let's do it!' Mastery of the form called rock. Gales solo is picture perfect.
Build It Back Up - dUg is a huge Djent fan, and this one gets that heavy right out of the gate, with Gales sounding not terribly unlike Vernon Reid tossing off fiery shards of guitar across the intro. "We dance 'til we drop, 'til the sun comes up," it goes and they do.
Vicious riff rock with pretty, semi-psychedelic choruses seems to be a recurring theme, and The Past Is The Past is another scorcher that sees Gales and Pinnick sharing the mic and harmonizing on the refrain, only to step away and throw down violently in between the pretty parts. Gales takes the verses and he leaves the past behind as he blazes into a new sunset. If this guy, if these guys don't inspire you as much as they impress you, you might want to check your pulse. I love Beatles-esque moment in my hard rock, and Gales nails some great ones in between the transcendently great guitar playing. A princely man.
I've met LaDonna, and to know her is to love her, and Gales does. Fifty-two seconds of unbridled love, this.
I Ain't Got No Money is a hard rock bolero that features dUg laying down some hard truths. Many more folks than we know find themselves in this position these days as it seems that financial success is often not a sign of anything to be proud of. The repeating riff is perfect as it drives the point home with Gales and Pridgen jousting wildly as Pinnick holds things together with his rock solid bass line.
This band hits their choruses with such power and beauty that it's always stunning, though it should come as no surprise. Here we have a band which has never played a show with two great albums down, and nothing but the future before them. Down To The Bone is the kind of hard rock that Aerosmith used to do so well, back in the day. Cinematic in scope and riveting with authority, it doesn't stop until they tell it to. Eric Gales is such a joy to listen to when he solos, it's like it just pours out of his soul without fear, and no trepidation.
The old sundown comes with Jambiance, a soulful instrumental that winds things down nicely with its backwards guitars and it's stop/start drums riding atop dUg's bedrock bass. A nice way to wind things down and it puts to bed yet another great example of the fact that Rock Ain't Near Dead.
Pinnick Gales Pridgen for the game, the set, and the match. Another great record from this brilliant trio of musical visionaries. Buy this - buy this today, and support these great musicians who are reaching so deep into their souls to give you so much.