Just Wait

Pico vs. Island Trees

Deep South Records, 2003


REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg


The thing that I enjoy most about reviewing independent artists is that the ones that stick in your ears have so damn much enthusiasm for their music. A big-dollar professional producer can -- and has -- made talentless singers sound like (be?) Grammy-winners. All that's missing is… Heart. Passion. Sincerity.

When you're working closer to the ground, those intangibles are what it's all about, and Raleigh, North Carolina's Pico vs. Island Trees -- yep, they named their band after a court case, silly college boys -- give these songs everything they've got and then some.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Pico's sound is college-coffeehouse jammy-sloppy jazz-pop-folk. The guitars (by Chris Karlsson and Jeremy Bullock) are mostly either acoustic or soft, restrained electric, and the vocals and drums (Bryan Carter, doubling as drummer and lead singer/lyricist) are miked for that loose, live-in-the-living-room sound. The one time the band gets heavier is when former Ben Folds Fiver Robert Sledge stops in to lend his fat fuzz-toned bass to the Dave Matthews-ish "Six Up."

The group's lyrics often delve into college-romance love-lessons-learned land, but steer clear of clichés. Instead, Carter hits you with flashes of stream-of-consciousness brilliance like: "It's the stupid promises we make / That lead us to our great mistakes / And we can't take them back / No you won't take me back / I want you back." As earnest as some of these cuts are, they're consistently artful as well, suggesting Carter may just get better and better.

Getting to specifics, there's a sensitive-boy sweetness to the above-quoted "Autumn," a beautifully paced breakup song that gradually builds up to a powerful release and finish. I also loved the strings on "Lost," the insightful poetry of "Broken," and the genuine sense of loss conveyed in the appropriately ragged lament "Consolation."

Not that everything on Just Wait is all serious-like, though; the Picos also cut loose with a goofy wit on tracks like "Mother of Pearl," which offers a trance-y two-and-a-half minute chant followed by an afterthought verse that punchlines with this nugget: "Necessity is the mother of invention / But she done gave that baby away." LOL… nice. "Brand New Set Of Wings" is another cut with enough sweetness and silliness to charm the pants off any number of <ahem> fans.

Basement-tapes touches like the endearingly sloppy handclaps on "Saying The Opposite" only reinforce the sense that this is a young, enthusiastic band that just wants to play. No popstar wannabes here; just musicians who believe in their art. And now I do, too.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2004 Jason Warburg and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Deep South Records, and is used for informational purposes only.