A Great Big Pile of Leaves - Have You Seen My Prefrontal Cortex?
Release Date: June 22, 2010
Record Label: Unsigned (I call foul!)
Recently here on AP.net, we had a one-day link for a free download of A Great Big Pile of Leaves' first full length, Have You Seen My Prefrontal Cortex? As a fan of both installations of The Fiery Works EPs, I proceeded to download our own free download. After an excruciatingly long wait (clearly I was not the only one who wanted to hear this), I played out the album. I wasn't really expecting anything from it; I wasn't aware that AGBPOL had a new record coming out and while I really enjoyed The Fiery Works II, it didn't exactly leave me begging for new music from this group. However, whatever aspect my brain thought A Great Big Pile of Leaves were lacking in their first two releases has clearly been filled in Have You Seen My Prefrontal Cortex?, as this record has left me in the dust.
One of the most enthralling, captivating releases of 2010, HYSMPC? is one of those albums that you can listen to dozens of times without ever settling on a favorite song, because they're all your favorite. It's one of those albums where you want to show it to the whole world, but you'll only show it to a select few friends because it's that good. You won't just recommend this to any old acquaintance. This album is basically equivalent to how I want my marriage to be. After my honeymoon phase with Have You Seen My Prefrontal Cortex?, I continue to love it dearly and take it to bed with me every night.
As their fan base will tell you, Brooklyn trio A Great Big Pile of Leaves don't have a typical indie rock sound. They've got a heavy jazz influence in their music, especially in Tyler Soucy's drums, paced by unique, spastic rock guitar work excellently executed by Pete Weiland and pulsing bass lines from Tucker Yaro. The thing that really makes A Great Big Pile of Leaves stand out, however, is the pop aspect of their sound: it provides for an easily accessible style that can please everyone from the most casual of listeners to the harshest of critics. Opener "Alligator Bop" displays this all perfectly, as a warm guitar brings you into the album and Weiland's phenomenal vocals carry you out of the song. For only having three main band members, there is a lot of music going on during "Alligator Bop" and the rest of Have You Seen My Prefrontal Cortex? Weiland's soaring melody in this track is an example of many similar ones you will find on the record.
"Vampires in Love" and "Great Fun" are a playful one-two punch that are among the catchiest on the record. In these tracks, it became wholly apparent to me that Weiland is one of those singers who simply doesn't seem like he even tries. The guy has a phenomenal set of pipes, and his voice always sounds so laid-back and relaxed; it could as easily be your lullaby as it could be your vessel for jamming out with a group of friends. To keep things on an even keel, the musicianship on this record is just as good as the vocals. This isn't any more evident than on the instrumental "Race Car Driving", a relaxing two and a half minute track that is one of my absolute favorites on Have You Seen My Prefrontal Cortex?
"Learn to Share" starts off slowly with just a soothing guitar line and Weiland's hushed vocal melody. Then, a slow, memorable build-up leads into one of the most rocking parts of the entire record. A Great Big Pile of Leaves are really hitting on all cylinders during the last two minutes of this track, as Weiland repeats "Hanging on by barely a thread at all" several times and the track progressively gets faster and faster.
This song is topped only by "A Few Screws Loose", with its airy guitar line and irresistible chorus of "Back then our bones wouldn't break / We didn't give a fuck / Back then our bones wouldn't break / Fighting to stay awake." When you think the song is going to end with a bunch of nonsense group shouts, however, A Great Big Pile of Leaves keep things rocking and rolling, ending in a slur of passion and good times. Finally, another instrumental track, "Sleeping on the Train", precedes closer "Moving In Slow". The closer does, indeed, move in slow, but A Great Big Pile of Leaves again turn to their go-to style with a heavy, cymbal-laden finish, a beautiful end to a breathtaking record.
A Great Big Pile of Leaves are making some of the most phenomenal music out there, yet are hardly given enough love, even on this site. By cooperating with AP.net for a free download, and by essentially giving away physical preorders of this album by charging $5 with free shipping, A Great Big Pile of Leaves prove that they want to get their music out to as many people as they can. What's amazing is that this band present easily the most quality music I've ever heard from a band in their situation. With a unique mixture of jazz and indie rock and a pop sensibility to boot, A Great Big Pile of Leaves deserve your attention, and Have You Seen My Prefrontal Cortex? is just the release they needed to get it.