Banner Pilot's debut full-length, Resignation Day. Ho hum. Just another solid collection of working-class, Midwestern punk. What is there to get excited over? The band featuring members of The Pyongyang Metro and Off With Their Heads, and hailing from the same town as the mighty Dillinger Four? Influence from each of the aforementioned bands, as well as a sprinkle of early Jawbreaker could describe Banner Pilot's sound pretty accurately, but we've got some space here, so let's get a little more descriptive.
Well, "Overwinter" is something to get excited about. The chord progression and lead guitar inject a healthy dose of melody, while Nick Johnson rasps away at a girl named Amanda: "How'd green eyes get so gray? Who's clouded up your sights? It won't always look like it looks tonight." "Cut Bait" is next, a song with a quick tempo and some whoas in the background that are a nice garnish. "Speed Trap" is a true bullshit-job anthem replete with identifiable references and sentiments for anyone who's ever had one of those jobs, and again, the lead guitar employed here gives the song a melodic quality that's a bit difficult to hear with the production, but I'd wager we'd all notice it if it were omitted. The vocal pattern in "Empty Your Bottles" is undeniably catchy, and there's a part towards the end of the song that is sure to conjure up every elitist's worst nightmare at a show -- synchronized clapping!
"Wired Wrong" wraps up the first half of Resignation Day in true punk power-ballad style, a mid-tempo tune lined with catchy, heartfelt choruses and a ending that starts loud but fades out to end the song. Ah, the good ol' fadeout -- the classy way to end Side A. Unfortunately this copy is on CD so the full experience was not achieved. Alas, I trudge on.
The second half of Resignation Day definitely has its moments, however. The bass-driven intro of "Absentee", along with some well-placed whoas make it the most distinctive cut here, replete with lyrics from Johnson that recall simpler, warmer times: "Nothing beats having nothing else to do" and "Want more of you rubbed off on me so for the summer months I'll just get marked absentee". "Milemarking" is a real Midwestern pop-punk gem -- the lead guitar parts, the dancing bass, gruff vocals in the verses that miraculously transform into memorable vocal harmonies in the chorus. I still don't understand how bands this rough and loose can be this catchy without compromising either quality, but I hope no one ever finds out. Ditto for "Shell Game", a song with an almost impossibly good vocal harmony, and there's also a quick refrain that really lets the rhythm section flex their muscles.
"Barker" closes Resignation Day with some dramatic lead guitar parts akin to a band like Face to Face in their heyday. Johnson's lyrics, though nearly always introspective and personal, appear to cut deeper here: "September's here and we ain't been ourselves lately. The old me liked the old you." And the final lines on the song and album are a nice way to end it: "Treating creatures like machines. But we can't be controlled all the time, no, resistance breeds. If we don't get what we need, get bent and bowed, tick explode."
The ingredients were all on the table here for Banner Pilot, and on Resignation Day they utilize them in near-perfect harmony to create a delicious slab of punk rock. It does the body good.