Music Review

Pylon Reenactment Society – Magnet Factory * Strolling Bones Records

todayFebruary 8, 2024 27

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By – Kristi Houk

Recommended if you like: Pylon, REM, Suburban Lawns, Swell Maps

Pylon (noun) a: A usually massive gateway

There would be no REM without seminal, post-punk, Athens, GA art students turned band, Pylon. Period. Former REM drummer Bill Berry famously said when declining Rolling Stone’s claim that REM was “America’s Best” saying that it was Pylon instead.

Pylon’s influence on post-punk /alternative/indie – whatever descriptor is used these days can not be understated. Pylon formed in 1979 and created a Punk ethos for southern college kids who felt punk rock was unobtainable and confined only to New York or London. Pylon gave them the music they could and would call their own.

That late 1970’s -1980’s iteration of the band dissolved after the death of much beloved guitarist and co-founder Randy Bewley in 2016.

Fear not!  Lead vocalist and songwriter Vanessa Briscoe Hay formed Pylon Reenactment Society with guitarist Jason NeSmith, bassist Kay Stanton and drummer Gregory Sanders—to keep the Pylon’s spirit alive without trying to be Pylon. Hence the “Reenactment” part. Their new album, Magnet Factory is as wacky, fun, and artsy as any of the early Pylon material. In fact track “3×3” is an old song the original line up used to play live. 

Opening track, the womb-like “Spiral” welcomes the listener in with Hay’s incantation, “I’m here.” She sings like she may be underwater. “A Spiral, I am Nothing, I am Something. Here  I am.” Present moment. Very zen .Let’s have more of that. 

The poppiest song on the album and my favorite is “Flowers Everywhere” because who doesn’t like flowers? But, seriously, the opening bass line sets the tone –  dance-y “dance around the trailer in the field.” “Angel from nowhere.”  We’ve all been there. Dancing in our room. Hay gives us permission. The godmother we all need.

A screech becomes a wail becomes a whisper; a command. Hay’s voice is inviting (pure southern charm) and the music is economical meaning it never overstays its welcome and knows just where to enhance Hay’s eclectic outbursts of pure joy and fire.

Here’s why you should buy this album: 1.) You can dance to it. 2.)You can drown in Hay’s whimsical, yet wise lyrics and sing along at the top of your lungs. Her vocal style is approachable yet comes out of nowhere, spoken-wordy, and at times cathartic. It’s as if the listener and Hay are in a private conversation that could get loud! with snake-y, thin guitar lines and bass as thick as the southern heat. 3.) Kate Pierson from the B52’s sings back up vocals on “Fix it.”

It’s moody, mysterious music  – just like the South. 



Stand Out Tracks: “Flowers Everywhere,” “Fix it,” “Educate Me”

Written by: kristi houk

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