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Tuesday, July 1

Album Review: Pigeons Playing Ping Pong – Psychology - 2014

Pigeons Playing Ping Pong
Psychology
2014

Taking the live music scene by storm, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong (“PPPP”) have been steadily turning heads and leaving their undeniable imprint on the live music scene. With their demand growing, PPPP is playing almost 200 shows per year now, and finally, the band has found time to release a second LP, Psychology. Greg Ormont (vocals, guitar), Jeremy Schon (guitar, vocals), Ben Carrey (bass, vocals) and Dan Schwartz (drums, vocals) make up the quartet, providing a crafty mix of funk, rock, reggae and psychedelia. What is most striking about this 13-track studio effort is that the way the songs are constructed and the order in which they are presented make the record feel just like one continuous live performance. Gradually building solo and improvisation sections coupled with a selection of primarily upbeat dance tracks contribute to a very accurate emulation of the energy flow within a well-thought out live concert. Psychology is set for release on July 3, 2014. With a song title like “FU,” one might at first believe that this opening tune is either mean or dirty. But that is not the case at all. These guys just wanna F-U-N-K! The high energy opener features a groovy drum beat, blasting horns and a raunchy guitar solo to keep you on your feet. “Melting Lights” has a slower head-bobbin’ groove, with a catchy lead guitar hook. When the lyrics kick in, listeners can’t help but wonder what magical substances this track might be about. I’ll let you listen in and pick out the specifics. The chorus brings it all together, singing “Melting lights on the walls/I think I’m losin’ my mind y’all.” “Julia” has a bit of a Latin, samba feel at times and more of a light-hearted island feel at others. A crafty, speedy guitar solo caps off the tune. I wouldn’t necessarily call this one a winner, but it’s a nice, relaxing tune for a sunny day on the porch. “Schwanthem” starts off with a trancey, electronica intro, which leads into a four-to-the-floor dance beat. This STS9-esque instrumental track focuses more on moving through the tune as a group than soloing or featuring any one particular instrument. This one will get anyone out of their chair and on their feet! “Zydeko” busts out a hard-edged NOLA funk intro and verse, but the chorus has more of a rock feel. Strategically syncopated snare hits add a unique bounce to the chorus.
 After a catchy verse/chorus conversation, a guitar solo leads the song into a spacey bridge before bringing the energy back for another verse/chorus. “Time to Ride” starts off with some funky, intricate dual guitar work. This is definitely a “get pumped” song. The chorus sings “If you feel you’re overflowin’/Throw your hands straight up through the sky/If your mind’s explodin’/Well won’t you grab yourself a seat it’s time to ride!” A jazzy bridge leads into another spacey guitar solo section, before ending the tune on a final chorus. “Sunny Day” breaks out the distortion for the intro, before chilling way down for a smooth, spacey verse. Echoing vocals and delayed, flanging guitar create a perfect ambience. This tune will get you groovin’ but will also make your head swim. “Moonwalk” is another group-focused instrumental tune, but this one is much faster and more psychedelic, and it has more parts. The track is characterized by swelling background guitars and synths, riding like waves, until one final build peaks and leads into a high-energy outro. “Horizon” starts off very slow and soft. After a primarily instrumental first three minutes or so, the tune picks up and gets spacey and psychedelic. A whirling guitar solo, followed by powerful, consistent bass, brings the energy way up and gets you moving. Guitars keep building until they’re screaming over harmonic, heart-warming vocals. The result is nothing less than euphoria. “Lightning” brings the album back to some deep funk. The band’s attention to dynamics in this tune is particularly noteworthy. Masterful drum work subtly adds flavor in between swelling guitar and tight bass. A growling guitar solo puts the icing on the cake. “White Night” features a rolling bass line and deep, melodic guitar chords. A screeching guitar solo leads into four-to-the-floor dance beat, before lulling back into the verse. “Live Life” is a simple but powerful reggae tune, featuring hypnotic, delayed guitar tones in between verses. “Upfunk” ends the album with some upbeat, straight-up funk. A more electronica style breakdown launches into a powerful synth-heavy dance groove. Slowly rising guitar breaks back into the funk, and then another break, this time jazzy, with steady, mesmerizing guitar. Overall, Psychology is a great album for the young group. PPPP has truly mastered the “build tension and release” tactic, and that, along with their psychedelic, instrumental jams, gives the album a live aspect that is rare among studio recordings. The psychedelic aspect also couples with the band’s tight, professional musicianship to give the tunes that mesmerizing, hypnotic quality that takes listeners off into the depths of their own minds and allows them to lose themselves in the music. I’m expecting big things from these guys, as are the rest of us at Grateful Music.  
Words: Randy Harris
Three STRONG out 5 Glowsticks!
©Grateful Music LLC