In days past, bad times made for angry rock. The economic doldrums of the mid-1970s in Britain begat the snarling, sardonic nastiness of punk; the Reagan recession of the early 1980s spawned the aggressive, acidic thrashing of West Coast hardcore.
These days, it’s different — maybe this recession has been so long that all the anger has been beaten out of us, or maybe the lack of health insurance keeps people out of the mosh pit. Mellow and melodic are the hot sounds; it hasn’t been since the height of baroque pop some 40 years ago that pure musicianship has been so trendy.
Blind Pilot, set to play a Valentine’s Night show at the Bearsville Theater, does the melodic and mellow better than most. It’s a fine line between sublime and somnolent; this Portland, Oregon-based six-piece mostly stays on the good side of that line on their just-out second album, We Are The Title. The song you may have heard on the radio, “Half Moon,” opens up the album and stands substantially above the rest of the record. It’s a beautifully arranged, sweetly performed paean to the peace to be found in non-attachment. While that might be a bit awkward for a show performed on a holiday celebrating the bonds of love — the song begins with the protagonist ditching his partner while said partner was still sleeping — is there any better theme for a nation beaten, bashed and battered by three-plus years of recession? The line “Going where I wasn’t paying; for the hurt that I owe” encapsulates a yearning for a pain-free, or at least less painful, place so many of us would like to find.
The rest of the album is generally pleasant, if not all as moving as the opening track. At its best, it reminds of classic soothe-rockers Gomez and Travis; at worst, it veers a little to closely toward the adult-contemporary schlock-house where Del Amitri and Coldplay dwell. All of it, though, sounds quite lovely. It doesn’t irk or challenge.
Blind Pilot, presented by WDST and featuring the Barr Brothers as an opener, will be in performance at the Bearsville Theater, 291 Tinker St. (a.k.a. Route 212), in Woodstock. Doors open at 7; general admission tickets are $20. Call the theater at (845) 679-4406 or visit www.bearsvilletheater.com for more information.