Review: The Pynnacles

Veteran Portland rockers band together to form a low-key supergroup with a super new album. March 30 at Tonic Lounge.

By John Chandler March 25, 2013


Honest, we need more bands like the Pynnacles, for the simple reason that they never, ever forget to kick a song as hard as it can be kicked. Screw the introspection, let's twist and shout our blues away!

Comprised of seasoned local veterans Sean Croghan (Crackerbash, Junior High), keyboardist Tamar Berk (Paradise), guitarists Scott Fox, Dave Busaker and bassist John Cox (all Satan's Pilgrims), and drummer Thom Sullivan (Kleveland, Strange Effects), the Pynnacles play in a proudly retro style best-described as garage-psych, that's awash in fuzzy, reverbed guitar, agile funhouse organ flourishes, and tough-guy drumming. But there's nothing derivative or primitive about the band's approach; all six members have sufficient chops to play it with equal parts ferocity and finesse. Whether it's a straight-up shaker like "She Got Me Hipnotized'" or an eerie sad trip like "Spiral Stairs," the songs on the Pynnacles self-titled debut are marvelously varied and savagely executed, with subtle, knowing nods to soul, surf, punk, and such hallowed Northwest rock forebears as the Sonics, Paul Revere & the Raiders, and the Miracle Workers.  

Croghan's lusty vocals are a leather-glove fit with the gritty romanticism of the material, as he can sound nervous and uncertain one moment and erupt like Vesuvius the next. His adolescence may be a long ways in the rearview mirror, but Croghan is a singer who can summon a sense of hysterical frustration as easily as any horny, misunderstood teen. His blood-curdling scream on "Walk," for example, will definitely blow your hair back. And Berk's elegant organ and piano on songs like "No I Don't" and "Into the Stratosphere" adds a veneer of polished sophistication that stands in cool contrast to the beehive of buzzing guitars.

The Pynnacles                   @ Tonic Lounge         March 30 at 9 pm

This is a dynamite debut album, and worth a place of honor in your Portland rock rotation. But I strongly advise you not to miss the Pynnacles in concert, as all of these amazing attributes emerge tenfold onstage. Plus, you get to see Thom Sullivan doing some serious work on the drums. 


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