(Copyright © 2019 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of Use )
Demonstration (2007), 6.5/10
Jerk Routine (2009), 6/10
Magic Isn't Real (2010), 6/10
Dripping (2012), 5/10
You're Better Than This (2015), 6.5/10
A Hairshirt of Purpose (2017), 5/10
Green and Gray (2019), 4/10

Boston's Pile, fronted by vocalist and guitarist Rick Maguire began as an atypical roots-rock project on Demonstration (2007), which actually sounds like a solo Maguire album. The piano intones a western-movie theme for the ballad Build a Fire, but the psychotic guitar vignette Animals and the marching guitar-driven litany of Thanks, the old-fashioned rant of Slug, and the effervescent blues Hole in the Ocean spread in all directions. The ending is even more cryptic: the seven-minute Of, a surreal guitar and piano sonata.

Jerk Routine (2009) boasts the booming country-grunge hybrid Idiot the Chef and the raunchy blues-rock Ball Blues. The band is tempted by country-pop in Purse and Fares. What really shines are the narrative skills, especially slow, low-energy songs with a minimal arrangement such as Raised by Ghosts and Haunt.

The band members (bassist Matt Connery, drummer Kris Kuss, and guitarist Matt Becker) matured on Magic Isn't Real (2010), which finally sounds more than a solo Maguire record with guests. Came As a Glow rocks halfway between boogie and grunge, Number One Hit Single is a fit of post-hardcore, Levee is borderline metal, Don't Touch Anything weds rowdy southern-rock and lyrical folk lament, Their atmospheric narratives now benefit from a Nirvana-like neurosis, like in opener Uncle Jill.

Dripping (2012) further refined their post-hardcore, post-emo, post-grunge hybrid, notably in Baby Boy and The Jones, but sometimes the music is so cerebral and psychological to become impenetrable beyond a general sense of drama (Prom Song, Bubblegum).

The EP Special Snowflakes (2014) contains one of their most poignant power-ballads, Special Snowflakes.

The sound becomes even more dense and intense on You're Better Than This (2015). The center of mass is still represented by their post-hardcore ballads, like Mr Fish and especially the agonizing Hot Breath, bordering on drunk and atonal in Yellow Room, but hardcore violence surfaces in Tin Foil Hat and especially 2# Hit Single, with a peak in the deranged boogie The World Is Your Motel, one of their most ebullient songs ever. The album closes with the seven-minute Appendicitis that mixes all of this together, leading to an incandescent rave-up.

Additional material surfaced on the EP Steve Hears Pile in Malden and Bursts Into Tears (2015).

A Hairshirt of Purpose (2017) is a split-personality kind of album. Half of it is devoted to ballads of one kind or another: the power-ballad Rope's Length (with echoes of Soul Asylum), the funereal and jazzy Dogs, the desolate melancholic Milkshake and the convoluted Leaning On A Wheel. Hissing For Peace is typical of their balance of post-rock and noise-rock, whereas the deranged blues-rock Texas is the only energetic song to stand out.

Then guitarist Matt Becker and bassist Matt Connery quit the band and a new line-up, based in Tennessee, recorded Green and Gray (2019), which contains the psychotic and sinister rave-up A Labyrinth With No Center and more streamlined songs like Bruxist Grin and Firewood. The Soft Hands of Stephen Miller strikes a balance between the two extremes, while the disappointing seven-minute Hiding Places sounds like an old-fashioned prog-rock suite.

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