With a sound that is sweeping, almost epic, and very reminiscent of a retro U2, Pilot Speed's Into the West is a collection of 12 songs that are deep, layered, and moving. This band from Toronto, Ontario, Canada came together 1999 when, wanting to take his music to the next level, founding member and lead vocalist Todd Clark posted an ad for a bassist. Ruby Bumrah answered the call and later brought his fellow art school classmates Chris Greenough (guitar) and Bill Keeley (drums) into the fold. They released their first EP, For All That's Given, Wasted in 2001 under the name Pilate.
Pilate went on to release two full-length albums in Toronto with MapleMusic Recordings, and was beginning to garner some local success. As they began to expand their horizons beyond their native Canada, and with the possibility of lawsuits from an American company, they changed their name to Pilot Speed in 2006.
On the band's website, Clark describes their interests and influences. "We were lucky we all had similar frames of reference and yet our own eclectic likes and dislikes. Ruby was into Depeche Mode, The Smiths, U2. Bill and Chris were into stuff like Radiohead, Pink Floyd and Neil Young, and I was starting to get more into American songwriters like Bruce Springsteen and Tom Waits." And you will hear bits and pieces of everyone mentioned meshed and molded into something that is all its own.
The opening track, "Knife-Grey Sea," with its militant drumbeat, melody, and lamenting vocals greatly reminds me of U2's "Sunday, Bloody Sunday." The tone only shifts slightly with the next track, single "Barely Listening." Not so much a cadence but a repetitive back beat, the rhythm is more up-tempo, and the guitar work is tight. The strength of this song is in the lyrics, however, and everything else works around it, accentuating it. "You question love with a camera /And you're catching love with a will / Well heart lies in loneliness /Now fight the past can kill /" is just an example of the deep, searching poetry set to music. Here's the video to "Barely Listening," the first single from Into the West:
For more information about the band including news and upcoming tour dates, check out their official website. Streaming MP3s can be heard on their MySpace Profile page. The band will be doing some US tour dates in January — if they are in your neighborhood, check them out.
1/16/2007 Boston, MA Paradise Rock Club
1/17/2007 Philadelphia, PA Theatre of Living Arts
1/19/2007 New York, NY Webster Hall
1/20/2007 Washington, DC 9:30 Club