The Pulltops – Live En Route
Influenced by a range of rockers from modern day Foo Fighters to the 80’s rock queen Joan Jett; from the prog rock of Pink Floyd to the suburban garage rock pop of Cheap Trick, Milwaukee alt. rock band The Pulltops recently released the album Live En Route, featuring a mix of rock and power pop with a punk vein running throughout.
The track, “Along The Way,” is one of notable singles from Live En Route and a bombastic retro theatrical rocker. Another track from the album that is getting play on the web and radio is “Destination” – rockers take note.
Even more notably is the band’s recent release of the single, “Fly Away,” a lo-fi mellow acoustic love song featuring a B-side of a gorgeous cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s hit single, “Scarborough Fair.”
Live En Route and “Fly Away/Scarborough Fair” are releases in honor of celebrating the band’s 15th anniversary since their power pop-focused debut, 8-Track. The band members are Mark Pierret, Tom Crowell, and Steve Kerwin.
On this live rendition of "Along The Way" by the Pulltops, the rockers lay down four minutes of powerful, guitar-driven rock that draws equally from 90's alternative influences in equal measure with 70's classic rock. A tight instrumental arrangement and a powerful, soaring lead vocal come together to form a perfect symbiotic relationship, each fueling the other to new heights. In particular, the lead electric guitar weaves its way masterfully through the cacophony of rock 'n roll bliss to emerge unscathed on the other side of the song. In the spirit of Page & Plant, the guitar and vocal share equal responsibility in carrying the song's melody, and ultimately do so to great effect. By the song's end, the listener truly feels as if they have transcended their immediate reality and have entered an entirely new sonic dimension. To pull off such a feat in the live setting no less reveals the true powers possessed by the Pulltops.
The Pulltops feature a big sound produced by the power trio of Tom Crowell (guitar, vocals), Mark Pierret (drums, vocals) and Steve Kerwin (bass).
From the first few notes and straight on through to end of this CD I thought this band had something I am always looking for. I like a piece of each decade of modern music from the 60’s to present day and The Pulltops are able to satisfy that hunger that never seems to subside, at least for these ears.
Power trios have a long line and reputation to uphold including bands like Cream, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, The James Gang and Grand Funk, to name a few of the legends that literally defined the term. I think The Pulltops take a little of each influence and throw in some psychedelic progressive slices (the band sites Pink Floyd, Gin Blossoms, U2) to produce a powerful, melodic, and catchy sound that is hard not to like if you have a love for rock music dating back to the 60’s.
There are 11 tracks on this CD, each puts the band in a good light as they sparkle and shine with several variations and tones through each musical workout. I should emphasize the word workout because this is three guys making all this noise. I know you can do just about anything in the studio these days to make something sound great and take parts and put it all together but even so, this band does a fantastic job with each track giving the listener long stretches of tight rock sounds that brings out each instrument into the spotlight for a while. Those long stretches of fine musicianship swept me away every time and I had a tendency to forget that the songs had vocals. The first track “From The Womb To The Tomb,” which would have been fitting to end the album because of the title, is an instrumental blockbuster that lets you know that what you are hearing are three men that know how to play music. After that magnetic intro they have some fun throwing everything they have into the mix all at once.
The way they lay out the tracks in sequence is brilliant, “Fools Rule The World” (they ask the question “where will this winding road lead?”) segues right into “Too Close For Missiles, Too Far For Guns.” That track is extension and or Part II of the previous track. Again, the boys give you another instrumental outburst that says it all. Both tracks carry some heavy weight upon their shoulders and the titles alone more than hint towards the state of affairs we find ourselves in these dark days. Chin up though music lovers, this CD will make you smile in spite of the darkness we feel closing in on us right now.
I honestly enjoyed every track for all of the reasons I would love an album, as I mentioned earlier. At times, I did hear the U2 influence and the lead singer Mark Pierret sounds like shades of Michael Stipe of R.E.M. and luckily, for them it works and makes their sound more full and believable inside and out. I highly recommend this band The Pulltops, it is the kind of music you will not be able to get enough of after the first listen.
As Seen On TV (Not Lame Recordings)
The Pulltops have been plying Milwaukee with catchy pop-rock tunes for the last four years. Formed from the aftermath of the Udi Subudi demise (lead singer departed), the Pulltops is the resulting trio featuring Mark Pierret (drummer, lead vocals), Tom Crowell (guitar, vocals) and Rocky Dunst (bass). Smaller band, yes; audio anemia, no. The three manage a big, rock-for-rockers sound wrapped up in poppy, digestible bites.
As Seen On TV is the band’s second album, with 11 tunes, though the first track is a 30-second earthquake warble, so I don’t think it counts. The Pulltops are making headway in the Midwest and beyond; they’ve enjoyed airplay on 230 radio stations across the country, and a few tracks off the album were included on the soundtrack of the recently released racing saga Dare to Dream: The Alan Kulwicki Story.
Which makes sense. While the band sounds like a history of the last four-and-a-half decades of rock ’n’ roll, the album’s binding theme is driving, anthemic rock. It’s poppy sometimes, perky by turns, even offers the occasional punky moment. Lots of drama, angst, love, love-gone-wrong, love requited, unrequited and quarantined.
The lead vocals are always polished, with that pretty-in-a-rock-god-way thing popularized by ’80s hair bands, which isn’t to say they’re not still relevant or appreciated. Pierret also has something of a chameleon quality to his voice that proves useful for intoning the various rock styles/periods the band incorporates. The vocal harmonies are equally well done—none of that half-hearted, (frequently really bad) backup singing.
All the tunes are catchy and accessible, with a few standouts. Track three, “Save Me,” has a minimalist, pop-punk appeal, with sparse and crunching bass/guitar unison pairings and a chorus that opens up and gets almost romantic by comparison. Track five, “Diggin’ a Hole,” offers a smack of Mötley Crüe nostalgia, with its driving rhythm, sassy drum fills and squirrelly, scoobaly-doobaly guitar riffs.
Track nine, “Promise Land,” offers all the torment a rock ’n’ roll soul could ask for with its discussion of dirty baptisms, saviors, and something about getting down with the Devil’s daughter, who, of course, is by birthright the ultimate groupie. Pair these lyrics with a Tool/Alice in Chains kinda moody low end and imposing drum work and you’ve got yourself an anthem in the making. (The hidden track is pretty good, too—pop country meets mysterious mumblings meets atmospheric Pink Floyd musings.)
To their credit, The Pulltops have probably not found a distinctive formula to stick to and thus, on their sophomore effort; the Milwaukee trio apply their pop-rock brush to a variety of moods and sounds. So on songs like “Summer Sunrise,” the band manages to combine touching verses, sparse instrumentation and an anthemic chorus to create a royal buzz. The rest of As Seen on TV is all over the map (and that is a compliment) – from country-folk blues, psychedelic rock to power pop, The Pulltops pull (ouch!) it all off with authenticity and zeal. And oh yeah, thanks for the PopRocks, boys…
Klang das Debüt der Band aus Milwaukee noch etwas zerfahren und nicht immer stimmig, so sieht die Sache bei «As seen on tv» anders aus. Die 11 Songs wirken zusammenhängender und lassen eine klare Linie erkennen. Die Pulltops haben sich auf ihrem aktuellen Album, laut der Bio, am Rock der Siebziger Jahre orientiert. Das merkt man vor allem an der Schwere des Schlagzeugs und der druckvollen Produktion. Ihre Pop-Präferenzen hat das Trio um Mark Pierret (Drums, Vocals) und Tom Crowell am Gesang und der Gitarre aber nicht beiseite gelegt. Sie verstehen es auf «As seen on tv» sogar noch besser, diese in Szene zu setzten. The Pulltops sind in verschiedener Hinsicht gewachsen, und das hört sich gut an.
7.5 out of 10
Milwaukee-based trio The Pulltops mix retro sounds of the 1960s and the 1970s into something fresh and new. Their 8 song CD (appropriately entitled 8-Track) is a fun half hour's musical fare, mixing elements of blues, rock, and country into something melodic and distinctive.
At the end of 2001, when John Lennartz' departure translated to an end of things for the band Udi Subudi, the other band members decided to start something new. This new band became The Pulltops: Mark Pierret on drums, vocals and moog, Tom Crowell on guitars, bass, vocals, moog, Fender Rhodes and percussion, and Rocky Dunst on bass. Pierret and Crowell have written some fine songs here, and enhanced their efforts with great mixing and production too.
Opening with a sweeping two-and-a-half minute musical introduction of guitar lines dancing atop a strong percussive beat, you get an immediate sense you're about to hear something a bit different.
"Fences" is a fairly traditional song with many disparate elements going on at once, yet the production never seems crowded in the least. There is subtle nuance to the instrumentation, and delectable Posie-like harmonies at times. The song, about barriers, is pleasantly mellow, but with punch, much in the manner of some Velvet Crush or Gigolo Aunt songs.
"Bring It To Me" is a rather demanding chauvinistic lyric from a sort of stalker character who wants it all and wants it his way. The demanding obnoxious lyric must be somewhat tongue in cheek, right? The song itself is fairly infectious otherwise, with a nice rootsy beat driving it along, and a superb reverb-enhanced middle vocal bridge.
"Peace" builds slowly from bare vocals and guitar to eventual ironic shouts, a sweet prayer/poem of a song, full of subtle well wishes, on the order of this: "salt in your heart / a simple child / a perfect smile / I hope you find peace tonight."
"On My Way (Small Town)" reminds me of many Mike Nesmith songs both vocally and in the way the guitars have a sort of endearing Monkee/Beatle/country thing going. This is very 1960s, very catchy, and full of simple good times, a song about not being able to go back to living in a small town. Another strong track very well executed.
The Pulltops show a certain affinity for songs of comfort, safety and assurance. "Bleed," the last song recorded for this CD, is one of the best of these. As a conscious challenge, the band used unusual instrumentation: replacing the normal drum kit with marching snares and a marching bass drum, swapping Fender Rhodes, a bell kit and a fretless bass for the usual guitar parts. The end results are quite good: the fretless bass gives this song/pledge of loyal friendship and sacrifice a delightful jazzy underpinning.
Those who wonder if The Pulltops can rock harder need only listen to "Voices." You get more of a Cheap Trick/Knack feel to things here, more basic crunchy guitar and pounding drums, and nice harmonies that soften the crazy "voices in my head" singer's narrative.
The closer "Long Way Home" is a great song (and it's rare to find many CDs that end on such a strong note). Driven by strong beats and forceful guitar, this musical journey home is one worth taking. Crowell and Pierret really show their stuff, and then the song fades into ambient road noise that goes on a bit (and might have you walking along with your thumb out, hoping for a ride).
There's a lot of power and intensity behind the varied sounds here, and this 8-Track is a fine debut sampler. The Pulltops do manage the difficult feat of taking old elements and making them new, but it all goes by far too quickly and leaves the listener eager for more.
Sheheshe Music Services Reviewer
I can definitely see what the band is going for with its concept of 8-track. If I am right, they seem to be going for the concept of retro ideas harkening back to when rock was more pure...and things were simpler. Tried and true ideas. You can tell it by the way it is mixed. The intro track itself (Track#1 Intro) has all the makings of movie soundtrack material. It is an intense instrumental piece that carries you along. A very enjoyable listen. I would say it's my second favorite on the album.
Track #2 "Fences" is worth a mention because it is a very catchy pop/rock tune with an uplifting rock feel that will make you bob your head and tap your foot. Music that makes you move - physically. And it is just over three minutes long. A perfect length for this type of song.
My personal favorite track is #4 "Peace" featuring a slightly muted distorted electric guitar and harmonies weaving sweet melodies over enchanting tom work that breaks into a full arrangement in just the right places to keep your attention.
The brush snare playing on "Bleed" (track #6) was quite tasteful and the song well arranged. In fact all the arrangements were quite good. And the experiments with basic sounds and formatting them in the way they did was a nice surprise.
Placement of vocals and guitars in the mix was well done.
These guys have a good raw rootsy rock sound going. Beatlesque guitar riffs and harmonies should make this music appealing to anyone with a taste for rock with a foundation. Overall the music struck me as basically uplifting and bright. I will be interested to see what they do next.
Not Lame Recording Company
This 8 song mini-CD, actually it's 30 minutes long, so you can call it a full length, is a strong, strong debut, an attempt at taking the sounds of the 60's and the 70's and mixing them with the current sounds of today. While staying fresh with their songwriting style, they want to leave the listener with the same feeling they had when listening to their favorite 8-Track or LP in the pre-MTV days, when visuals were left up to the imagination of the listener, and record companies supported creativity. The intro song sets the tone for exactly just that, too...and then the excellent songs that follow are filled with gorgeous Bee Gees and Hollies-echoey vocals along with moments of quiet Townsend chord strummings and Velvet Crush-like melodies. Perky and beautiful without being mushy, this music has a cleansing, refreshing nature to it because it's so unprentiously flowery, feeling like total sunny morning music. A really promising and great debut.....Very Highly Recommended.
Drummer Mark Pierret and guitarist/kitchen sink Tom Crowell provide The Pulltops with an immediately distinctive sound, due to their outstanding harmony vocals. These harmonies, when combined with a dramatic song and spacious production, as on "Peace" makes it hard to avoid a comparison with *Dear 23*-era Posies. And a favorable comparison at that, as the band eschews a typical verse-chorus-verse structure, instead building the tension and letting the intensity boil over. "Voices" is more conventionally structured track, but the Posies come to mind, and part of the song reminds me of some of John Entwhistle's early tracks with The Who (in the bridge and chorus). Top notch stuff. That they can follow that with the mid-‘60s Merseybeatish rocker "On My Way (Small Town)" shows that they have a lot of tricks up their sleeve(s). Very enjoyable.
Bright, cheery and vibrant, The Pulltops deal in infectious pop that detractors will decry as naïve. Well, I hope so! If that means believing that good ol' fashioned pop-rock has the power to put smiles on faces then so be it. Especially when The Pulltops do such a good job in evoking Badfinger, Raspberries and um…Bread with such integrity and diligence. Full marks for effort.