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Pinmonkey - Big Shiny Cars
By: George Peden, CSO Staff Journalist

The “must watch” country band of 2006 just might be Pinmonkey. Their new album, Big Shiny Cars (Back Porch Records), hits the shelves soon. Revamped and energized -- former members Chad Jeffers and Rick Schell having moved on making room for new Monkey member and former Steve Earl Duke Mike McAdam -- the band has pulled variety and a rich flavoring of alt-soaked influence into this 11 tracker.

With a distinctive sound border hopping with traditional inspirations, alternative rock edginess and keen lyrical savvy, the album is commercial without total surrender. There’s enough grit in the mix to please those who prefer their music raw and with attitude. And all from a band that not only draws their own line in the Nashville sand, but has the fans to support the plan. Their loyal and growing fan base – warmly known as “Pinmonkey Junkies” (a term given by journalist Robert Oermann) – has been a vocal and visible support since the band hit radio interest with 2002’s “Barbed Wire And Roses”.

Recent years have seen solid touring, which has had the boys out with among others Alan Jackson and Brad Paisley. There’s also been a liberal sprinkling of CMT exposure, a line-up change and the signing to a new label. Phew! It’s the stuff of a country song. Or a new album.

Opening with “That Train Don’t Run By Here No More”, written by Matraca Berg and Gary Nicholson, the song is, beyond its rocky and progressive vibe, a sad and mournful look at the losing hand of love. Lead vocalist Michael Reynolds doesn’t wring or whine the emotion here; but, rather, brings a pulse to a tune that captures the misery of lonely and alone. “Down” comes handled in a similar vein. Dolly Parton showcases one of her major assets with a well-penned tune of loss, with self-reliance as the guidepost back.

Listen to this album. Crank the volume. Tune in. For Pinmonkey – they took their band name from an 1995 episode of The Simpsons -- are not road weary cowboys who play now on the success of an acclaimed self-titled and critically applauded debut album. And, they’re out there trading on an ACM nomination for Best New Group of 2003 – no, these guys play because they love what they do. And what they do, they do well.

The strong point of this album is in the content. The emotional and soulful thread of losing and hurt peppers the disc. The easy guitar chords played out on “Coldest Fire In Town” belie a much stronger take on the strain of leaving. With lyrics that tell:” What once was paradise/has slowly turned to ice/ and it won’t be long before this flame burns out/ we both know we have the coldest fire in town,” is a truth many live behind deceptive family smiles. 

“Big Shiny Cars” is a hard-nosed and cutting look at reality and envy. Penned by Davis Raines, it comes with all the mood of cold atmosphere, hard character and personal probing. They’re elements Raines explains well. Those who remember Big Shiny Cars –Raine’s debut album of 1998, where he offered tracks like “Working Homicide”, “Limestone Chain” and "Last Hard Man in Elmore County" -- will know it’s a winner from this former Captain of the Guards who once managed the “Death Row” cells in an Alabama prison. Other standout tracks include the expressive Bruce Robison-penned “Wrapped”. The track stands tall with other heart-tuggers like front man Reynolds’ penned tale of hard love on “Living Proof”. There’s also ponderous self-discovery on “Can’t Have A Hand On Me”. 

The blurb on the album sleeve offers a revealing take on the boys. Labeled as critically acclaimed and a fireball band, the tag is on the money. The liner also suggests Pinmonkey come poised to become the very definition of American-born music. It’s a big claim, sure, but it comes in truthful wrapping. Innovative, raw and ragged, all with a dash of commercial pride and polish; these guys – Michael Reynolds, Michael Jeffers, Mike Crouch and Mike McAdam – offer something here that keenly and clearly marks them. It brands BSC as a “must-have” album, and it also brands Pinmonkey as a “must-watch” band in 2006.

The album’s released on March 7.

Baby It's You song list:

To purchase the CD online just click on the album cover on the left. 
1: Train Don’t Run By Here No More 
2: Down 
3: Coldest Fire In Town 
4: Fallin’ All The Time 
5: Mountain Song 
6: Shady Grove
7. Cant Have A Hand On Me 
8. Living Proof 
9. Wrapped 
10. Big Shiny Cars 
11. Love Sometimes

Related Links:
www.PinMonkey.net - Official Site

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