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Albums Of The Week: The Pink Stones | Introducing… The Pink Stones

The Athens alt-country crew update Cosmic American Music for the new millennium.


THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:The Pink Stones deliver a full serving of Peach State-picked country-rock from Athens, Georgia with the release of their debut album, Introducing… The Pink Stones. Mixing elements of classic cosmic country, raucous rock ’n’ roll and fresh humor and heartaches, The Pink Stones are authoring a new chapter in the annals of Cosmic American Music.

The journey to The Pink Stones’ debut album began in 2015, when freshman college-student and then punk rocker Hunter Pinkston bought a special single by one of his favorite bands. “It was the song Brass Buttons,” Pinkston says. “One side was The Lemonheads and the other was Gram Parsons’ original version. I bought it because I was a Lemonheads fan, but I flipped it over and that was the one of the first times I’d heard Gram Parsons. I was like, ‘Oh shit! I didn’t know I liked country until right now.’ ”

Inspired by his discovery, Pinkston not only began tracking down and listening to Parsons’ catalog, but took the well-travel music fan path of seeking out similar artists and influences. It was actually a landscape he’d seen before but paid little attention to. “When I was a kid my mom liked country music but my dad was totally a rocker,” Pinkston says. “They would constantly be switching the radio. I was definitely with my dad and had discounted country forever. Then it caught up with me and I became pretty much obsessed with it.”

A native of Albany, Georgia, Pinkston grew up in a family of music fans with two sisters who played guitar and a father who lived the rock ’n’ roll life as a young man. “Dad was a drummer in some local South Georgia bands during the ’70s. He opened for The Allman Brothers and others and continued to be a big fan after he quit playing.” Pinkston began forming his own bands in high school and gravitated toward punk and hardcore until his B-side epiphany. “When I started revisiting what I had heard as a kid that’s when I started writing my own songs. I really started listening to Neil Young which was music I had heard as a kid, but didn’t really think twice about it at the time.”

Pinkston’s exploration of musical styles and maturity as a songwriter accelerated in 2016 when he transferred to the University of Georgia Music Business program and found himself immersed in the vital and diverse Athens music scene. “I was flirting with country and country rock for a couple of years when I moved to Athens,” Pinkston says. “Once I got here, I had a one bedroom apartment, I worked at a coffee shop, went to school, but other than that, I didn’t do much. I was still too young to go to bars, so I would deep dive into music on the Internet. Also, Americana and country-tinged rock is very strong in Athens, so moving here definitely opened my mind more.”

Pinkston also began meeting the musicians — Will Anderson, Logan Brammer, Adam Wayton and Jack Colclough — who would form the core of The Pink Stones. “At first I was playing my new material with people I’d played hardcore with,” Pinkston says. “As they started to fall out, new people fell into place. Will, Logan, and Adam were all in the music business program with me, and Jack was playing drums in another band that we share members with and started filling in when our first drummer quit.” The final Pink Stone, steel guitarist John Neff, also began his tenure as a fill-in when he sat in on pedal steel for a few shows and decided to stay. A founding member of Drive-By Truckers, Neff is a long-time veteran of the Athens music scene and has brought his experience and a sense of legacy to the group.

The mix of pedigree influences, musical experience, and fresh perspectives have paid off in the tracks of the The Pink Stones’ first album Introducing.. The Pink Stones. Recorded at Athens’ renowned Chase Park Transduction Studios and produced by Henry Barbe (Drive-By Truckers, Deerhunter) and The Pink Stones, it’s a platter full of organically grown Cosmic American Music developed from both classic and fresh stains of indie rock, country, folk and more.

The proof of The Pink Stones’ success as musical geneticists is evident in the melodic and psychedelic swirl of the album’s opener and first single Blueberry Dream; the wistful romanticism of Put Me On; the darkly comic take on love and obsession Shiny Bone and the classic honky tonk giddy-up of Barroom Blues. Especially notable is The Pink Stones’ ability to intertwine joy, heartache and self-deprecating humor in songs. It’s a classic hat trick of country music that is all too easy to overplay and seem forced by modern Americana aspirants, but one which the Pink Stones craft perfectly with the album’s third single Love Me Hardly.

The end product is a fresh and exciting album from a great band. It’s an achievement that requires hard work but also a willingness to trust your instincts, as Pinkston admits. “When I first started working on my own songs I was going to do the singer-songwriter thing,” Pinkston says. “I’d like to say I had a plan in place for everything, but when I started meeting and playing with these dudes, it altered my course. By the time we were ready to make the record I made it clear I’m not the singer-songwriter and the rest are just a backing band — we’re a group that plays and creates music together.”

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