Three Mile Pilot - An Old Town We Once Knew
Sometimes I wonder how many people think of Three Mile Pilot when listening to Pinback or The Black Heart Procession. Both of those bands are pretty great, yet in completely different ways. Both owe almost everything to Three Mile Pilot. Singer Pall Jenkins, bass player Armistead Burwell Smith IV (a.k.a. Zach Smith), piano player Tobias Nathaniel and drummer Tom Zinser started Three Mile Pilot in their native, and musically fertile, San Diego, CA. Although Tobias was not in the orignal lineup of the band, his piano playing was a crucial part to the moody sound of 3MP, and also the beginning of what would become the dark and theatrical dramatics of the Black Heart Procession with Pall Jenkins. Zach Smith, with his trade mark bass playing, his progressive and interlocking melodies, went to form the beautiful progressive indie band, Pinback. And Tom Zinser has played drums with both bands since. Three Mile Pilot shares these two distinct sounds, the dark, funeral pace and melancholic minor keys, and a sunny, hopeful, yet sinister sound. Songs From An Old Town is a two disc set that collects all the 7" tracks, the compilation tracks and the unreleased tracks from 1992 - '99. On the whole, it lacks the flow of a true album, as it switches from different time periods and exhibits many of the styles Three Mile Pilot experimented with (Some which are obvious clunkers). But in between the few less interesting songs lay some of the best songs they have recorded like "In This Town I Awaken" and "The House is Loss". At times the sequencing of the tracks seem to flow perfectly, as in the "Piano Plus", "Piano Minus" segment of the disc, which flows perfectly into "Red Sensing" and the epic track "Sewn To Our Side". The band seems to have an interest in Sci Fi and a possible underlying humour, as some of the names of their songs have distinct sounding names such as "Urquan Destroyer" and "Jadulastan Requiem". One can wonder at times whether their moodiness is a put on or genuine anguish. The fact remains, that they have crafted one of the most powerful and emotive forms of rock music in the past 20 years, with both this band and their more recent efforts. This record is a perfect document of the sound they have helped create.
It is also worth noting, that Three Mile Pilot have chosen to begin recording again and have signed with Touch and Go records, the same label of Black Heart Procession and Pinback. The album will supposedly be released sometime in the beginning of 2007. Keep your eyes and ears peeled.