Stranger's Waltz

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Pilot's Stranger's Waltz proves that there was a lot more bubbling under the musical landscape in the Pacific Northwest than Nirvana and Mudhoney. Take the time to scrape back the husks of the grunge scene and the mountains will easily give up their secrets -- and talent. Fronted by Dharma Bums' Jeremy Wilson, Pilot produced an exciting and organic blend of folk, rock, and pop -- all big sounds shot straight from the heart which, when combined with catchy melodic hooks, turned into something extraordinarily special. This entire album was recorded very simply -- one song a session -- and the results are easy on both the soul and ears across songs of love and lament. It thrashes enough to boil the blood, yet becomes quiet when necessary to pull emotion through melody in order to make a point. "Indigo Bleeds the Sun" paints a Dylan-esque picture of life under an endless veil of gray skies, while the rolling rhythm and travel-weary vocals within "West Texas Wind" aurally convey a vivid visual portrait. "600 Miles," meanwhile, packed with crunchy noise layered behind an acoustic guitar, was the band's take on the Proclaimers' "500 Miles" -- and Pilot's version not only pushed the Proclaimers' completely out of the frame, but also perpetuated the time-old tradition of reinventing the folk song. The songs on Stranger's Waltz meld to create one gargantuan tale, but they also stand beautifully on their own. From first to last, Pilot has given their audience something which feels like home, big skies, and a lover's arms all at the same time. The songs are timeless, not confined to genre or trend. And how many albums are there which make you want to get into the car and just drive?

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