Bronx, NY folk-rock unit Pigeons create dark, kaleidoscopic soundscapes, populated by loose pop structures and abstract dissonance, shades of wintry stillness, and a hauntological layer of dust. Recently, they expanded their line-up to include acoustic noodlers from the No-Neck Blues Band and Black Twig Pickers, and got to work on their third full-length. They Sweetheartstammers, out next week on Soft Abuse, is packed with hypnotic psychedelia, Francophilia, cobweb-laden sonic spaces, and shadowy retrofuturism, balancing moods of wonder and foreboding with an artisan's acumen. The founding power duo of partners Clark Griffin and Wednesday Knudsen took some time via email to talk about the band's origins, their progression from improv to concise songwriting, trash art, and finding unusual muses in the creaking freeform explorations of Jean-Claude Eloy and the mighty Margarita enthusiast Jimmy Buffett.
AZ: I'd love to hear the definitive "how Pigeons came to be" story.
Clark: We lived in Seattle and we played with the Sea Donkeys-- a loose association of freaks and assholes, but a good band. We had many things thrown at us during our performances. It was a golden gamelan era, though. We learned a lot about improvisation. Then we moved to New York and kept busy musically, putting out some cassettes and a couple of lathes under the name Pigeons. There have been fewer projectiles for Pigeons, but that might be because attendance at our shows is usually minimal.
Pigeons' recent releases for Soft Abuse, Curatorial Club, and Olde English Spelling Bee highlighted the Bronx duo's noir-ish breed of slow, psychedelic pop. But on "Tourni," from their forthcoming The Sweetheartstammers LP, guitarists Wednesday Knudsen and Clark Griffin carry their sonic vision to a new level of clarity, with higher-fidelity production values and help from two new members: bassist Jason Meagher and drummer Nathan Bowles. The result is a fuller-sounding Pigeons that still maintains their brooding beauty, but with pronounced hints of Hope Sandoval and brighter guitars that meander densely. In the video above, Brooklyn-based filmmaker/visual artist/recent Julian Lynch collaborator, Amy Ruhl layers chroma-keyed footage atop digitally animated archival photos. And like Pigeons, the result has an eery gracefulness that feels vintage and secret. --Jenn Pelly, Altered Zones
Pigeons tour Europe and the USA this fall and winter. The Sweetheartstammers drops November 8th on Soft Abuse.
Don't let the photo fool you: Pigeons never intended to pack the sun or the sand in their weathered steamer trunk of '60s psych flavors. Rather, the Bronx-based NY duo evokes the stillness of the night, long after the Flower Children have fallen into the arms of Morpheus. Their forthcoming They Sweetheartstammers LP exudes the same sense of mystery, sedation, and austere melodicism as last year's Liasons, but with an added sonic density and an expanded lineup (roping in members of No Neck Blues Band and Black Twig Pickers).
On lead single "Dead Echo," the woozy vocals of chanteuse Wednesday Knudsen glide across wintry soundscapes that creak and howl. Haunting, tape echo-laden guitar weaves in and out as stop-start rhythms lurk in the shadows, equally tuneful and dissonant. Despite Pigeons' nocturnal, cavernous aura, there is a certain whimsy behind the spooky façade, and the result is a pastiche of ornate kaleidoscopic pop somewhere between The United States of America and Pram. An engrossing, ghostly listen. -- Kenny Bloggins, The Decibel Tolls
They Sweetheartstammers LP drops November 8th via Soft Abuse