Sound: It's nice to know there are still bands out there that have not seen fit to mature and over-produce their albums, just because they've been in the business 10-plus years. Case in point: Piebald. Since the Massachusetts band made its way on the scene in the mid-'90s, Piebald has maintained a popular cult status with its raw, quirky, indie rock tunes and its latest album Accidental Gentlemen will ensure that fans stay satisfied.
Probably what is most refreshing about Piebald is there ability to go against the grain, particularly in a music world where there seems to be an overpopulation of bands that feel their haircuts are as important as their songs. Piebald is a low-maintenance band and Accidental Gentlemen relays that feeling perfectly. Put together in about 2 weeks, the record does feel very stripped down and in a way does live up to singer/guitarist Travis Shettel's own description of the band, sloppy. But even with a bit of sloppiness and a pop style to its songwriting, it still feels more honest than plenty of the punk bands out there today.
The opening song Opener (fitting) gets you acquainted immediately with the band's style. Almost sounding like a throwback to '60s Brit rock, the distorted guitars and vocals are simple in their approach, while the chorus and verse are extremely catchy. That isn't too say that that there isn't an impressive guitar solo -- guitarist Aaron Stuart lays out a really interesting solo that has a nice echo to it and stands out big time in a song that might otherwise be considered your basic rock tune.
Piebald approaches a Ben Folds sound in A Friend Of Mine, from its heavy use of the piano to singer Shettel's rough-around-the-edges vocal style. It's a fun song, just like most of the other songs on Accidental Gentlemen. It's hard to say what general music audiences will think of Piebald's latest, particularly considering it is more of a garage rock sound in a world full of synth-kissed records. If you're a fan of harder-edged rock, Piebald will also be a little too light for your taste. Some people might not get what Piebald is about all together. However, it is the band's uniqueness that makes it a breath of fresh air at times. // 8
Lyrics: One of the most endearing aspects about Piebald is its consistent use of off-the-wall lyrics. It's obvious the band doesn't take itself too seriously, so you'll have to look elsewhere if you want songs about heartache and self-reflection.
Life On The Farm is a good example of the quirkiness you'll find on Accidental Gentlemen. The song basically revolves around one man's desire to live simply on a farm with his animal friends. While there is one anti-pollution line, it's hard to say if the true hidden meaning is about earth conservation. Shettel sings about the frogs, pigs, cats, and dogs that live on the farm with him, and then goes on to say that he just wants to roam with my friends. It is presented in a very simple fashion and may have listeners raising their eyebrows, but for some reason it fits the band well.
Another song called Roll On follows in the tradition of bands like Queen and Pink Floyd by singing about the beloved bicycle. Again, it's laid out in a simple fashion with Shettel singing, It's sunny outside, so let's go ride a bike. It's obvious from other songs there is a lot more going on upstairs than just talking about bikes, but Roll On still stands out lyrically with all of its simplicity. The lyrics alone might put off some listeners because they are quite different than the norm, but kudos to Piebald for giving it a shot. // 8
Overall Impression: Piebald already has a strong following, and it's easy to understand why. The band embodies everything that the music world is not right now -- and that's not a bad thing. Accidental Gentleman is a fun listen, and a lot can be said about the creative guitar solos and piano sections heard on the album. There is also a hidden song on the record that stands out as one of the highlights, so stick around for that if you pick up the album.
The raw quality that Piebald has will not appeal to everyone, and at times it does sound a little bit thrown together. But then we have to take into consideration that it was the intention of the band to rock out for 2 weeks on the album and send it on its way. If you like your albums a little more polished, Accidental Gentlemen will feel somewhat unfinished in the end. But if you're looking for a record with songs that have catchy melodies with an oddball twist, you'll love it big time. // 8