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Pedro The Lion - Achilles Heel (Cover Artwork)

Pedro The Lion

Pedro The Lion: Achilles HeelAchilles Heel (2004)
Jade Tree Records

Reviewer Rating: 3.5
User Rating:


Contributed by: AubinAubin
(others by this writer | submit your own)

There are two things which are invariably brought up when reviewing a record from Pedro the Lion. The first is the Christian beliefs of Pedro's alter ego David Bazan, and the second is "Why is this considered punk?" The second needs little explanation; Pedro the Lion is fundamentally a solo proj.
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There are two things which are invariably brought up when reviewing a record from Pedro the Lion. The first is the Christian beliefs of Pedro's alter ego David Bazan, and the second is "Why is this considered punk?" The second needs little explanation; Pedro the Lion is fundamentally a solo project with minimal instrumentation and that instrumentation that does exist is typically a guitar and drums accompanied by lethargic vocals; whether it is "punk" or not seems fairly irrelevant because if you enjoy his records, as I do, you will invariably find some way to make him "punk" and if you don't like his material you will dismiss it as not. Eye of the beholder and all that...

The other topic of discussion is Bazan's Christianity; and while he is an open and unapologetic Christian, his beliefs figure into his songwriting in a perfectly natural way; he isn't trying to convert anyone and he outright loathes so-called Christian rock, so it bears little importance in examining his music, or his latest record Achilles Heel.

This latest record, and his fourth (of sorts) for Jade Tree finds Pedro the Lion returning to the lyrical foundation of its first full length, It's Hard to Find a Friend. It eschews the high brow concepts of Control and Winners Never Quit for a deeply personal outing. Gone is Control's boisterous drumming and more rock-oriented feel, Achilles' finds an even more melancholy and minimalist musician.

Sadly, the lack of concept has led to one of the more inconsistent records from Pedro The Lion as well. While Control was the most fully realized concept in terms of both lyrics and songwriting, this record finds the band putting both it's best and weakest tracks simultaneously to tape. Some of the tracks, like the positively chilling "Transcontinental", deliver some of the most painful and visceral lyrics to date, while others, like the record opener "Bands With Managers" is merely adequate.

Still, one of the strongest points about the new record is that unlike past efforts where morose lyrics were accompanied by equally morose music, here, the most morbid and crushing lyrics are coupled with upbeat melodies; this sharp contrast makes the lyrics even more poignant and shows a unique ability to wring completely unique emotions out of the audience.

But in the end, while there is significant growth in the arrangements of the tracks, Bazan occasionally resorts to heavy handed and awkward lyrical and musical turns. Some of the tracks are positively brilliant, like "A Simple Plan" and especially the brutal and beautiful "The Poison" which contains probably the best written and best delivered lyrics of Pedro's near decade of output. Achilles is a challenging and progressive reimaginging, and while this record isn't all brilliance, it's still a powerful and memorable record and absolutely worth your time.

Pedro the Lion - Discretion (From Achilles Heel)

 

 
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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
alkalinetrio0087 (June 14, 2004)

they're not even all that christian. i saw this one quote where bazan's like "i'd sooner tell someone to fuck off than that jesus loves them."

and the album is hot diggedy, anyway. probably their best.

Anonymous (May 31, 2004)

its called Pedro the lion because it was the name of a Childrens book

Anonymous (May 29, 2004)

He calls himself Pedro the Lion because it started out as a whole band. Then people kept joining and leaving and David was the only real songwriter that remained. So now Pedro is David and whoever friends are helping him out at the time.

aubin (May 28, 2004)

Well, I think the reason he goes by "Pedro" instead of "David" is because most the songs aren't about him; Rocky seems to write more about personal experiences, while David seems to play a lot of characters. It makes sense then, that Rocky would use his real name and David would use Pedro since, despite the fact that they shared some musical similarities, they couldn't be more different thematically.

Anonymous (May 28, 2004)

Great album. I haven't been able to take it out of my player, and the best track by far is "A Simple Plan".

Anonymous (May 28, 2004)

how can someone who likes rocky votallato thing pedro is boring? there's a lot more going on in pedro's music, yet it still manages to not sound the least bit contrived. rocky is cool; don't get me wrong. but his stuff can't compete with the blending of guitar and vocals that david produces.

Anonymous (May 27, 2004)

agree with the person below

Anonymous (May 27, 2004)

To whoever who wrote this ---> "boooring! This guy sucks! When is there ever going to be a solo artist that just calls himself by his real name and plays something that fucking kicks? Is it that hard? really?" Get ahold of the CD "Suicide Medicine" by Rocky Votolato...... Hes a solo artist, he goes by his real name, and his music fucking kicks.

Anonymous (May 27, 2004)

To whoever who wrote this ---> "boooring! This guy sucks! When is there ever going to be a solo artist that just calls himself by his real name and plays something that fucking kicks? Is it that hard? really?" Get ahold of the CD "Suicide Medicine" by Rocky Votolato...... Hes a solo artist, he goes by his real name, and his music fucking kicks.

Anonymous (May 27, 2004)

To whoever who wrote this ---> "boooring! This guy sucks! When is there ever going to be a solo artist that just calls himself by his real name and plays something that fucking kicks? Is it that hard? really?" Get ahold of the CD "Suicide Medicine" by Rocky Votolato...... Hes a solo artist, he goes by his real name, and his music fucking kicks.

Anonymous (May 27, 2004)

So then why dont you do it yourself, if it's so easy,......dickhead

Anonymous (May 27, 2004)

boooring! This guy sucks! When is there ever going to be a solo artist that just calls himself by his real name and plays something that fucking kicks? Is it that hard? really?

Anonymous (May 27, 2004)

dont start a review as a long defense of the guy in the band, d-bag

aubin (May 27, 2004)

Aubin, while Bazan doesn't "preach" at people in his lyrics, his Christian beliefs definetely impact his music. I would say that many songs of his would never have been written if he wasn't a Christian.

I agree with you, in fact, in the review I said this: "his beliefs figure into his songwriting in a perfectly natural way" which seems like the right way to approach it.

Anonymous (May 27, 2004)

Fuck this

Anonymous (May 27, 2004)

that legolas comment made me laugh a lot. bloom is such a woman in that movie.
back to the subject...

"Aubin, while Bazan doesn't "preach" at people in his lyrics, his Christian beliefs definetely impact his music. I would say that many songs of his would never have been written if he wasn't a Christian."

I definitely agree. Basically every song on "It's Hard to Find a Friend" is about being a struggling Christian and searching for God. That said, it's an excellent album, one that changed my opinion of Pedro the Lion from "boring" to "wow."
Anyhow, I'm looking forward to his upcoming tour.

Anonymous (May 27, 2004)

Legolas shot Achilles' heel.

AHAHA you're awesome... And PTL is awesome i used to sport one of their shirts thats how awesome they are... =)

Anonymous (May 26, 2004)

Aubin, while Bazan doesn't "preach" at people in his lyrics, his Christian beliefs definetely impact his music. I would say that many songs of his would never have been written if he wasn't a Christian.

As a Christian, I appreciate the open-mindedness that has finally broken through in these posts. I've seen so many "this sucks because it's Christian" posts it's not even funny.

pastepunk (May 26, 2004)

I'm glad to see what was posted on Pastepunk yesterday getting reproduced in the comments here today. I posted Keith's letter b/c I felt that it was very direct and poignant in addressing an unncessarily polarizing issue. So many of us have sought out the refuge of punk/hardcore/whatever b/c we believed that we'd find respect in this community and it disgusts me to no end when those who we seek comfort among are no less ignorant than those on the outside. As Keith said, this isn't a pro-religion / anti-religion issue - it's a humanity issue.

gladimnotemo (May 26, 2004)

I just said stuff because I didn't want people to start ripping on bands that are "Christian".

Anonymous (May 26, 2004)

Just in case no one happens to check out the link that someone posted below from pastepunk:

A sharp dose of reality... (Posted by Jordan A. Baker on May 25, 2004)
A good friend of Pastepunk emailed a copy of this letter to me that was sent to another webzine in response to a handful of reviews that were written on that site. The name of the site has been replaced with "Zine X," as not to make this into some sort of webzine attack - the message in this email is clearly more important than the name of the offending party (as normally is the case).

Dear Zine X,

I have always supported Zine X, and really enjoy speaking with some of you that support the projects that I am involved in and manage. However, I have been bothered by some of your recent reviews.

Some of your recent reviews have stated the site's (at least of one particular individual) view of bands that contain Christian members. Quoting a recent review, "good thing you can barely tell this band is Christian, or else it'd probably get a lower score." (Beside the point: just because a band is signed to Tooth & Nail doesn't mean anything concerning personal faiths of all individuals in that band. I happen to know the Slick Shoes boys, and only the singer claims to be a Christian). So, as soon as Zine X learns that a band views the world in a certain way, they aren’t judged on an equal scale? I find this double standard disturbing and lacking integrity.

My point is furthered by another recent post by the same reviewer, "This Christian hardcore stuff has to stop, really. Hardcore is about values, sure, but stop your preaching. This goes for you sXe fags too." I have a hard time supporting a site with an intolerant view of humanity. Music exists as an outlet for all members of society, whether they hold the same worldview as you or not. As members of a multireligious society, people need to learn to deal with that. React to the music, and inform the listener of the apparent views of the artist, however keep your personal vendettas to yourself.

These artists receive lower scores due to their personal beliefs, and nobody should be judged differently because of their personal beliefs. Even if a band professes a certain belief, they should be respected for their personal strength, not discriminated against.

Sincerely, Keith Emrick (k_emrick@hotmail.com)

Anonymous (May 26, 2004)

"If you're so focused on the religious beliefs of musicians, you might find yourself missing out because not every good band is secular."

Wow, well said.

BSD (May 26, 2004)

I was just takin' the piss... Plenty of good bands believe in God. And all of the blues guys. And all of the ska and reggae guys.

And what about the creators of hardcore? Bad Brains.

I find all organized religion to be contradicting and funny, but I don't care if someone believes in god or not.

aubin (May 26, 2004)

It never fails, I spend a few sentences explaining that Bazan's Christianity is completely unimportant to his music, and that's all anyone can talk about.

If you're so focused on the religious beliefs of musicians, you might find yourself missing out because not every good band is secular.

Anonymous (May 26, 2004)

thats kinda lame

Anonymous (May 26, 2004)

Seeing "punks" rip on people and bands because they are Christian or any other religion isn't what I thought punk was about.

Anonymous (May 26, 2004)

Legolas shot Achilles' heel.

Anonymous (May 26, 2004)

What a BRILLIANT CD. The lyrics tell such amazing stoies. Unlike the rest of the people here, I think this album surpasses Control.

Anonymous (May 25, 2004)

http://www.pastepunk.com/news.php

ElVaquero (May 25, 2004)

Atheist Anthem is HAWT

RondoMondo (May 25, 2004)

Eh, cd was alright. Nothing to crap yourself about.

gladimnotemo (May 25, 2004)

"Atheist Anthem" - the Leftover Crack song everyone feels uncomfortable singing along to.

BSD (May 25, 2004)

The muttering at the beggining of "Atheist Anthem" mentions something about "all those christcore motherfuckers...". Great stuff.

BSD (May 25, 2004)

Dood hes christian and he isnt like in your face with a backwards cap on. this is not punk.

Anonymous (May 25, 2004)

ok, the author of the first comment is a major league dumbass. album is average.

Anonymous (May 25, 2004)

I want to see this guy duke it out with Duvall and ZAO

-El Vaquero

Anonymous (May 25, 2004)

Jesus is awsome and you know it!!!

-kyle

Anonymous (May 25, 2004)

an solo? han solo?

gladimnotemo (May 25, 2004)

You've never heard of ChristXCore? Oh man, it's silly stuff.

gladimnotemo (May 25, 2004)

Scratch everything I said.

opivykid (May 25, 2004)

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA "Christ Core". That is fucking great, score is for that term!

gladimnotemo (May 25, 2004)

So the anti-Christian remarks begin....now!

Why is it okay for punks to be so tolerant of everything else in society, but slam Christianity and get away with it?

Not all "Christians" are religious. Or hypocrites. Or freaking "Christ Core".

Anonymous (May 25, 2004)

worst comment ever below this one. you dont know shit about this music, and if you did, you wouldn't make stupid remarks like that one. i dont like this record quite as much as control, but very good nonetheless.

Anonymous (May 25, 2004)

sounds lame....stupid christians

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