Something about Pinegrove stands out to me in a way that no other band does. For this reason, Pinegrove has become my most listened-to band in the past year.
Lead singer Evan Stephens Hall wants his listeners to think critically while they listen. Within the catchy, heartfelt songs and records are an entanglement of depth and meaning. As an avid climate activist, Hall uses his platform as a way to spread awareness about climate change and what we can do to stop it.
Drummer Zack Levine, guitarist Sam Skinner, guitarist Josh Marre, keyboardist Nandi Rose Plunkett, and bassist Megan Benavente make up the rest of the six-person ensemble. Each other these members help to create the flair that makes Pinegrove as special as it is.
If you’ve never listened to a Pinegrove record and want somewhere to start, “Cardinal” is what you’re looking for. In this record, I think they best exemplify their sound in its purest form. This album has Pinegrove’s most popular song and many of my favorites. It hits indie rock highs but is clearly rooted in Americana.
Starting with “Old Friends” and ending with “New Friends”, the message is clear: at its heart, “Cardinal” is about friendships, relationships and the movement through them. Evan’s down-to-earth and reflective lyrics are best put on display on this record.
“My steps keep splitting my grief / Through these solipsistic moods / I should call my parents when I think of them / I shoud tell my friends when I love them”Pinegrove, “Old Friend” lyric
Released after “Cardinal”, “Skylight” is a great progression from that album. This record is less structured than their previous album but it shines because of it. The structure and instrumental progression become more free-form, allowing more room for the reflection that Pinegrove is famous for.
Their latest release, “11:11” is also excellent and provides a new flair that Pinegrove was in need of after “Marigold”. This album leans more into a country sound than anything else on their discography, clearly inspired by artists like the Flying Burrito Brothers.
Still full of the internal reflection they are famous for, Pinegrove also looks outward in “11:11”. This is their most politically charged album by far and focuses on many of the problems that our world faces.
“They’re trying to ignore it / We always knew they’d try / Today the sky is orange / And you and I know why”Pinegrove, “Orange” lyric
I have seen Pinegrove in concert twice. The first time I saw Pinegrove was back in October of 2021 at the Haw River Ballroom in Graham, NC.
This show was what got me hooked on Pinegrove. Evan Hall’s charisma and clear passion for the music he makes really did it for me. The entire band is so in-sync while playing and the highs and lows of every song hits extra hard live.
They had just released “Orange” for their new album and Hall, wearing a DSA shirt, took a moment to talk about the ongoing climate crisis and inform the audience of ways they could go about inciting change.
He took a similar break in his show a few months later in February at the Orange Peel in Asheville, NC, an understandably more packed venue. This show was soon after the release of “11:11” and they played through the entire album.
Hearing each song live provided more depth and gave me more appreciation for each one. If you get the chance, I would definitely recommend going to see them live.
Pinegrove always shines a light where there could be darkness. Their songs touch on many things that in different contexts could seem hopeless but instead of basking in dread, they push forward.
Pinegrove has had a lot of personal significance to me in the past year. The hopefulness they inspire definitely helped me through some harder times. They are the first band that I ever saw in concert more than once for that reason.
Thematically and sonically, Pinegrove continues to grow and evolve. I can’t wait to hear whatever they do next.