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
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
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.