Pelican – City Of Echoes

Pelican - City Of EchoesPelicanCity Of Echoes (Hydrahead)

I’m a giddy little fan-boy of purveyors of finely executed instrumental rock, particularly when it does indeed “rock.” So I got a little excited when I heard about Pelican, a Chicago quartet that frequently makes the rounds in the area and has gained some increasing notoriety over the course of a few albums.

It’s taken me until album number three to play catch up; I’m older now and being the first kid on the block to get Pelican’s latest release, City Of Echoes wasn’t a big priority.

Once I finally heard Echoes, I was floored the moment I started playing it, but not for the reasons you might think. I was floored that Pelican, a band that by design should contain members that pride themselves on interaction and communication, is being driven by perhaps the worst drummer ever.

That’s a bit harsh because Pelican drummer Larry Herweg isn’t really the worst drummer ever. But he is quite awful and his performance takes the band from “finely executed instrumental rock” into “instrumental rock band with the shitty drummer.” Seriously: tempos speed up and fall behind, fills are hesitant and unimaginative, and every opportunity at depth or nuance is replaced with this plodding mess. It’s embarrassing and, more to the point, it’s unacceptable.

Part of the reason it’s such an issue is because City Of Echoes could have been a good album. And, to be honest, City Of Echoes is a good record, if someone would have the good sense to grab the master tape, take it back to the studio, and have a new drummer re-record everything that Herweg laid down.

The guitar interplay is good; guitarist Trevor DeBrauw and Laurent Schroeder-Lebec do some fine fretwork that keeps things entertaining and innovative. But it’s all in vain, as every goddamn measure is ultimately distracted by amateurish propulsion.

I hold the rest of Pelican equally responsible here, as there is no way that the other three members couldn’t have noticed this problem during rehearsals, let alone the recording studio. I understand that there is some nepotism afoot within the rhythm section (Herweg’s brother, Bryan, plays bass), but for God’s sake, someone needs to man up and admit that there’s a very crucial element within the band that is not contributing to the greater good.

This is a shame as there are some moments where Pelican could stand tall against comparable outfits like Explosions In The Sky. However, before they can rival their Austin, Texas compatriots, they must first attend to the liability in their own back yard.

MP3: Pelican – “City of Echoes” (MP3 courtesy of the fr0k)

3 thoughts on “Pelican – City Of Echoes”

  1. I know what you mean about the drumming (though it’s not too bad on the MP3 posted here); it’s amazing, the effect a drummer can have on a band.

  2. The sad part of it is that his drumming hasnt changed. Listen to Australasia, Fire in our…., and their EP its all the same, same fills same form. Keep a steady beat, then ohh he it comes…turn on the double bass in a constant speed that is the same in other songs. He even plays very similar in Lair of the Minotaur, and Tusk. (his other bands) Larry just doesnt have a lot of tricks. The problem has shown its self cause the guitars have pulled back on City of Echoes leaving holes where the drums and bass need to fill. Really, its not just the drummer, the bass isnt doing anything remarkable either. But, when you think about it…thats the sound of this band. So when the guitars progress into new territory the rhythm section needs to follow and complement it. And in this case they did what they have always done.

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