Remember Pylon? Pylon Reenactment Society does. As the latter band’s name suggests, they’re kind of a Pylon cover or tribute band… except their lead singer is Pylon’s original lead singer… The definition of cover band gets a little murky here, which is why they’re technically a reenactment society.
The original Pylon was an Athens, Georgia-based new wave/post-punk group that influenced other Athens bands liked R.E.M. and the B-52’s. Pylon was on-and-off between 1979 and 2009. Members Vanessa Briscoe (now Briscoe-Hay,) Randall Bewley, Michael Lachowski, and Curtis Crowe were most active from 1979-83 but reunited from 1989 until 2009 when Bewley passed away suddenly. At that point, the band decided that they would no longer continue without Bewley. Well, the band’s remaining original lineup and name would no longer continue, but singer Briscoe-Hay recruited Kay Stanton, Jason NeSmith, Joe Rowe, and Damon Denton to round out the Pylon Reenactment Society. And reenact they do – this EP is all Pylon covers.
The six tracks, which are all from the earliest Pylon albums (Gyrate and Chomp,) have better sound quality and are more filled out than the originals. It’s still the same danceable, jangly, new wave/post-punk that it’s always been, but it’s got the slightly different twist of being recorded three decades later with different musicians. This EP was recorded in an afternoon before the band played a concert in Los Angeles – it’s got an energy and an imperfectness that is more like a really well-recorded live performance. Briscoe-Hay still has a powerful growl and great delivery.
The songs are jangly, shimmery, frantic, dramatic – it’s easy to see how the original Pylon influenced other Athens-based bands. There are a lot of different textures happening on the songs: fuzzy guitar layered under jangly guitar, bouncy bass, shimmery keyboards, crashing cymbals, and Briscoe-Hay’s commanding vocals. Songs like “K” are walking a thin line between a wild mix of pleasing sounds and complete cacophony, but luckily they stay on the right side.
Pylon Reenactment Society reenacts Pylon in the best way on Part Time Punk Session – the songs are refreshed for today’s audiences. While the premise of reenacting a band seems a little odd, they’ve made a great EP and it may help Pylon’s music reach more audiences than they did during the original band’s run. And really, isn’t that the best tribute that a tribute band can pay to the original band?