Maybe it's common for those who grow up in the hottest desert valley climates to long for a life surrounded by trees; the dark, quiet, contemplative woods. This is certainly the case for the three boys who make up Pine Marten. The fantasy has seeped so far into their subconscious that the branches and leaves come poking out of the songs themselves.
After forming in late 1999, Pine Marten began playing shows in Los Angeles, opening for artists such as The Black Heart Procession, Lou Barlow, and the Radar Brothers. So impressed were the Radar Brothers that Mark and Brian were asked to join as members of their touring line-up. Subsequently, Pine Marten toured the Midwest with The Radar Brothers, winning over many new fans and confusing many, many more.
The members of Pine Marten were born and raised far from the big city life; Mark in the small San Joaquin Valley farming community of Caruthers, Brian in nearby Fresno, and Joe Lester (currently of Silversun Pickups) in the desert town of Indio. Each moved to Los Angeles in their early twenties, in search of something more than rural landscapes could offer. In many ways, the songs on their debut release, Beautiful Stakes and Powerpoles, are both reflections on the days of their youth and reactions to their new and often overwhelming surroundings.
Beautiful Stakes blends the solid rock sound of the old-fashioned power trio with the fuzzy hum of old keyboards, the jittery crackle of lo-fi drumloops, and the ever-present static hiss of 21st century life. Mark's vocals float over all of this with a country boy naiveté that belies quirky but astute observations; think Doug Martsch, Wayne Coyne and Jeff Tweedy all rolled into one. This, coupled with the lowered tunings of his Jazzmaster make for the core of the band's sound: rubbery, harmonic lows that resonate in your chest, and your heart. Brian's drumming drives the songs with often complex time-signatures and transitions, sometimes putting down a drumstick to play something heartbreaking on a little casio set up. Joe then fills out the sound completely with super low thundercloud bass and beautiful glass-like piano lines that creep into your subconscious and stay there for days.
Pine Marten has been compared to everything from Flaming Lips to Fugazi, or Modest Mouse to Grandaddy, but while the band has far-ranging elements of these, they are pretty hard to pin down. They have a sound all their own, and their songs embody the more atypical but very common feelings that some folks might have a hard time verbalizing, for instance, the beauty of a portrait, or fascination in inanimate objects like lumber, roadkill or even time. They hint at the realm where animals know more than we think they do—insightful bears, birds, cottontails, coyotes. Pine Marten find beauty in the buzz of a refrigerator or in the ceiling above your bed.
Pine Marten's first record, Beautiful Stakes and Powerpoles, will be available on Wild Hotels of the Sea on April 8th, 2003. This is not only the exciting debut from a band who has kept eager audiences on the West Coast thirsting for their recordings for 2 years, but the first official release for Wild Hotels of the Sea, a label created by the Ship—the Eagle Rock based creative collective that also includes Earlimart, Irving, Silversun Pickups, and Panty Lions.