Pin Points & Gin Joints
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The Mighty Mighty Bosstones have stuck more pins in the map and pulled more Gin from taps than they care to remember. Over the years they've earned the reputation as one of the hardest touring bands in rock. Now they are back with their first full length studio release in seven years. Featuring 14 new songs Pin Points and Gin Joints has the band at their fun, exuberant, chaotic best. The rare band comfortable in almost any genre they are also patient, passionate songwriters. Blending ska and soul, punk and metal, and arrow to the heart pop, these songs are the Bosstones at their best. Lead singer and lyricist Dicky Barrett is at the top of his game as a brash cynic, a harsh critic and a crooner with a heart of gold. His voice as both a storyteller and poet is highlighted in songs about family life, politics, war, art, biker gangs, baseball, ska music legends and blue collar stiffs. With Pin Points and Gin Joints the Bosstones have taken their trademark power chord, driving horns, wicked backbeat sound back to the barroom for another round of shot
Top customer reviews
Thus, when they went on hiatus, I think a lot of fans understood. I saw the band in 2001 or 2002, and when Dickey screamed, "We're not a f*in' jukebox" in response to a repeated demand to play "The Impression that I Get," I knew things were coming to an end. As a performer, he'd always drawn from the energy of the crowd, and that day he seemed honestly tired of sweaty teenagers screaming at/with him.
But then in 2007 they returned, at least for one more Throwdown, releasing "Medium Rare," a collection of unpublished music and a few new songs, and suddenly those new songs showed a lot of the old Bosstones, with songs like "Don't Worry Desmond Decker" revealing the smart playful songwriting of their best albums of the 1990s. For old-time fans like me, the unexpected freshness of the new songs was something amazing, something almost like the first time I heard the old fun tracks like "Where'd You Go?" Thus, I was excited when the first new songs ("Graffiti Worth Reading" and "Too Many Stars") were released as teasers for this album and they had something of that new/old energy in them as well.
Having picked up a copy of "Pin Points and Gin Joints" and given it a few listens, I'm pleased to say that old school fans of the Bosstones will find a lot here to like. Many of the songs will have fans singing along before they even complete their first listen-through. The choruses on songs like "You Left Right?" and "The Route that I Took" are almost "Impression"-catchy, and the performances are as good as they've ever been. Dickey's in fine shape, and although there aren't any frantic "Cowboy Coffee"s or even a "Doctor D" here, there are a lot of fine, mature Bosstones songs here, and even the low points, like the fairly listless and unfocused "Not to Me on that Night" and "Wasted Summers," don't demand that you skip through them, though they do represent the longest ignorable block of sound on the album. Thankfully, "Sister Mary" provides a different enough sound that it rescues the album in time for "It Will Be," maybe the best concert song on the album.
It is absolutely a studio album (there's no other way that "Death Valley Vipers" would ignore the act/react crowd interaction calls that could have been developed so well and would have been developed through touring and testing), though, and absolutely an album created by performers who have been making their livings in other ways since the hiatus, but for Bosstones fans, it's a better album than "Jacknife" and absolutely worth picking up.
2000's Pay Attention, easily my least favorite of the Bosstones albums, felt tired, predictable, and just kinda boring. I'm sure a lot had to do with what was going on with the band members at the time, but for the most part it sounded to me that, aside from a few tracks, they pretty much phoned it in. That Bosstones spirit just seemed to be missing...
2002's A Jackknife to a Swan was a pleasant surprise. The energy was back, the spirit was back, and it seemed that the Bosstones had a renewed life in them.
Then in 2003 they went on an indefinite hiatus. Bummer.
In 2007 Medium Rare popped its head up and was a pleasant surprise, but being mostly a collection of B-sides made it, well, feel like a collection of ragtag, somewhat throwaway songs. However, the 3 new Bosstones tracks on that album, in my opinion, showed something very promising. I wanted to hear more.
In comes 2009 with Pin Points and Gin Joints. This is a solid, solid effort from a band that's been around the block a few times and has learned more than a thing or two. I have to admit though, on the first listen, I wasn't blown away. It took a couple of spins before I realized the brilliance of this record. It's easy to digest yet challenging enough to throw a few surprises at you. More importantly, the ska-core may be gone but the edge is still there. In fact, I think it's better than ever. If I had to choose one word to describe these songs it would be "tight". There isn't a single song on here that I look at as filler. Every single one has been crafted with the love of a group of skilled, passionate artists. Every instrument utilized at just the right moment, with just the right amount of control. This album is more than I could have hoped for from a band that no doubt struggled with even bothering to continue in the first place.
If you're a fan of any of the Bosstones past work, do yourself a favor and pick this up. If you aren't blown away by it immediately (like I wasn't) then give it a few spins and you may be surprised at how much you want to, you need to, go back. I couldn't have hoped for anything better from a band that has meant so much to me.
Welcome back boys!
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