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3 Rounds and a Sound

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Album Review

Is Blind Pilot a folk outfit playing indie rock or indie rockers playing folk music? Singer/guitarist Israel Nebeker and drummer Ryan Dobrowski operate out of an acoustic setting but their mellow yet hooky tunes have more in common with indie rock outfits than folky troubadours. This Portland, OR-based group winds up being something like Beck or the Shins doing easygoing folksy tunes or Iron & Wine with a poppier sensibility. Whatever genre equation you want to use to describe them, it's easy to say that Blind Pilot have come up with a winning music plan. The opening tune "Oviedo" sets the course that they chart throughout the debut full-length. Against some laid-back guitar strumming and gentle drumming, Nebeker warmly sings his hazy but quirky lyrics, which seem like private language of personal confessions ("Four times is once too much for luck and that's how many times the clock struck/I wandered home saying your name"). As the song easies along, the arrangement gets fleshed out with muted horns and banjo picking. Nebeker nicely doubles his voice at times, but his singing maintains his intimate, hushed tones. In "Paint or Pollen," he builds a set of beguiling images ("Milk in your water, black in your primer, wood in your brush") to express that "the best is upon us." While having an interesting way with words, Nebeker isn't one for direct sentiment. He is a bit more overt in his affection on the title track, where he sings "My eyes were dark 'till you woke me." While "The Bitter End" deals with death, it doesn't dip heavily in morbidity as Nebeker expresses his emotions through personal but semi-obscure references to "hounds-tooth coats and vitamins." For all of its off-the-cuff musical vibe, Blind Pilot also exhibits a fine sense of craftsmanship. The vibraphone that weaves through "One Red Thread" subtly expands the song's sonic landscape while subdued horns show up again to bolster the woozy melody in "I Buried a Bone." "Two Towns from Me," meanwhile, feels like an indie pop tune performed at half-speed but works wonderfully in its own right. 3 Rounds and a Sound is one of those discs where the whole is greater than its parts. They may not be creating something wildly innovative, but Nebeker, Dobrowski, and their crew, in their own low-key way, have fashioned an impressive amalgam of rustic folk-pop and indie rock. They definitely have Blind Pilot headed in the right direction.

Customer Reviews

Absolutely beautiful.

This album is wonderful from start to finish.
Everything about it brings my mood up and makes me float away to that special place you go when things don't seem so great.
My advice is buy this, put it on your i-pod then go and watch the clouds go by (or the rain fall) and let the beautiful vocals and perfectly paced music take you away =)

Listen

If life had a playlist, this is one of those albums that I imagine would be playing. Beautiful acoustic guitar, vivid lyrics and a great atmosphere. Thank you Blind Pilot.

Biography

Formed: Portland, OR

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

A Portland-based group originally comprised of singer/guitarist Israel Nebeker and drummer Ryan Dobrowski, Blind Pilot strikes a balance between mellow folk and West Coast indie pop. The two co-founders first banded together in college before combining their talents and touring the northwestern Oregon circuit. By 2006, however, they'd decided that a change of scenery might help their songwriting. Blind Pilot consequently relocated 90 miles north, where the guys spent three months inside an Astoria...
Full Bio
3 Rounds and a Sound, Blind Pilot
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