Horace Pinker - Texas One Ten (Cover Artwork)

Horace Pinker

Texas One Ten (2005)


Horace Pinker have a kind of punk rock history that is plentiful, but I would be hard-pressed to describe it as one that has been appreciated en masse. It has been nearly nine years since the band arguably reached the height of their popularity, with their 1996 full-length, Burn Tempe To The Ground (One Foot Records), and an almost 15 years since the group got underway. The band hit a momentary surge in the press in 2000 when former Jawbreaker bassist Chris Bauermeister joined the group, but things were soon to be tempered again in a spate of lineup changes and quietly-released EPs. In this entire timespan, careers, academia, and so forth have kept Horace Pinker to be a mostly part-time endeavor, but through it all, the band's classic, slightly-heavier-than-most pop-punk sound has persevered, and on Texas One Ten, it feels stronger than ever.

With the help of producer Mass Giorgini, Horace Pinker have held on tightly to the punk rock sound of their Chicago roots. Fluid, melodic lead vocals lead the charge with driving dual guitars, dark bass lines, straight-forward percussion, and simmering harmonies. It may be considered as a minimalist approach to songwriting today, but Horace Pinker's stripped down efforts sound far more complete than a band trying to figure out how to sequence a bag of tricks. Texas One Ten follows a songwriting pattern of much of the band's earlier works, with keeping the lead vocals low in the mix, behind big, screamin' guitars and bruising beats. Tracks like "If You Fall" and "Retrospective" rip at your nerves with dour but infectious rhythms. Mid-tempo is mostly where it's at with Texas One Ten, but the flair of the recording style gives it plenty of punch, so the band never languishes in stagnation. Whereas so many contemporary bands feel the need to place themselves among extremes in terms of thematic emphasis, Horace Pinker meander through greys and paleness. The band's lyrics fight for your attention through honesty and real world reflection -- not vivid, but contrived strings of impressionable college poetry. In an enjoyable twist, Texas One Ten ratchets up the memorability scale as the disc burns through all 12 tracks, and as its subtle, but well-heeled hooks sink in, this one gets better with every listen.

The liner notes to Texas One Ten bring out the fact that the recording process for this release began shortly after May 2002, after one of the founding member's mothers died of cancer. The band goes on to note how important this woman was in its earlier, heavy-touring years and how her life (and death) inspired so much of this record, which in total, took more than two years to finish. It's that kind of genuineness that truly puts Horace Pinker's hardworn sound in perspective, and perhaps explains why in the band's 15 years, their unique twist on Midwestern pop-punk still sounds so refreshing.