If Screeching Weasel wrote bluegrass-Americana songs, it might sound something like The Pine Hearts. The Olympia, Wash., band, who just recently played in Missoula, has a new album that weaves together spirited anthems about holding on despite the troubles of the world, about being in love with someone even though they're leaving forever. Maybe it's singer Joe Cappocia's slightly nasal vocals that makes him seem a little punk rock, despite the fact that Distant Lights is an album overflowing with banjo and mandolin. Or it could be that the youthfulness of this group gives them an extra kinetic kickfans of the feisty boys of Old Crow Medicine Show, for instance, will likely fall in love with The Pine Hearts.
Unlike some Americana bands that stress the ways life has hardened them, The Pine Hearts still seem hopeful despite the heartbreak. Even with laments such as, "The world used to be on a string. Who slipped this noose beneath my chin?" from the track "Last Man Standing," there's a sense that everyone will be okay if we just loosen up the knots of our day-to-day a little bit. (As Ben Weasel says, "Let the sunshine in, I know it's fucking hard.")
The first track from Distant Lights, "Don't Let the Stars Bring You Down," is the catchiest of them all. It's the least cynical song I've heard in a while, about science and religion and how if we never crack the code to what the universe means we can still enjoy the mystery. Love this band. It's my new soundtrack to these long, gray winter days.