Houston Music

Pilot Radio

Say you've had a tough day and want to get to sleep or just feel jittery and need to come down, but can't seem to locate that Tylenol PM. Fear not, my friends! Just play this CD, and you can safely pilot that plane straight to Sleepyville.

This is the first full-length release from the Houston quartet Pilot Radio after a self-titled EP earlier this year. While the band claims classic rockers like Tom Petty and Van Morrison as influences, its material is much more derivative of earnest emo bands and Britpop. But even those gentle joes from Travis might be prone to violence if locked in a room with this album on continuous loop.

So many of the tracks here are listless, banal efforts cut from the same cloth of lilting cadence and unimaginative music. Singer/guitarist Ricky Young's robotic monotone provides all of the passion of a commencement speaker announcing the list of graduates, while Drew Walters (bass), Austen Hooks (drums) and Keith Shephard (guitar) combine to form one bland band on songs like "Obvious Things," "Easy Target" and "Not a Sinner."

The lyrics are a mishmash of disjointed images and heavy hearts. "Something's wrong with my radio / 'Cuz all I hear is sad songs" and "A room without you / Is a body without soul" seem to pass for grand, soul-searching proclamations. But even taken as earnest emo, the wordsmithing is third-rate wallowing.

There are a couple of bright moments on Antiques. "Maybe We Won't Die" and "Strange Situation" are (relatively) lively efforts à la Better Than Ezra or Dishwalla that wouldn't be out of place on modern rock radio. There's some churning guitar work and a real sense of enjoyment on these songs that's utterly lacking elsewhere. On the latter, Young even manages to break out of his self-imposed singing limitations. But these are the exceptions for Pilot Radio. For the most part, Antiques would make the captain turn on his "No Playing" sign at any altitude.

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Bob Ruggiero has been writing about music, books, visual arts and entertainment for the Houston Press since 1997, with an emphasis on classic rock. He used to have an incredible and luxurious mullet in college as well. He is the author of the band biography Slippin’ Out of Darkness: The Story of WAR.
Contact: Bob Ruggiero