Pleasant Grove Are Back, with a Show at the Kessler and a New Album Planned
Courtesy of Pleasant Grove The band pictured several years ago. Chris Mayes wasn't playing with the band at the time, so isn't pictured.
Pleasant Grove were one of Dallas' most treasured bands in the early 2000s. Their four albums earned them devoted fans here at home and a record deal with European label Glitterhouse.
They earned the attention with a folk band's command of melody and a psych band's command of reverb and a few tricks all their own. Formed in 1998, they released two EPs and two full-lengths over the next eight-odd years. They were recording a fifth album in 2005 and 2006 with producers Stuart Sikes (Cat Power, The Walkmen, Jets to Brazil, etc.) and John Congleton (St. Vincent, Modest Mouse, The Paper Chase, Swans, etc.) when family and other obligations forced a sort of hiatus.
It was a "sort of" hiatus because Pleasant Grove have continued to play very occasional shows. There was a performance of 2002's Auscultation of the Heart at the Kessler in August 2010, and a show with The Relatives, Sarah Jaffe and Seryn last year at the grand opening of the Dallas City Performance Hall. In August, they played a mostly improptu set at Twilite Lounge for guitarist/vocalist Marcus Striplin's birthday.
"It reinvigorated us," says Striplin of that show. "We just kind of felt like it's kind of silly to not just keep doing this."
So they will, starting with a January 24 show at the Kessler Theater. That show will also mark the release of a new album from Dallas' Crushed Stars, which just had a new single featured on Rolling Stone. Pleasant Grove drummer Jeff Ryan and bassist Tony Hormilosa also play in Crushed Stars, incidentally.
Pleasant Grove's set will be long and feature plenty of the old material, and that would be news all by itself except that this "reunion" show is different in that it marks the band's return to regular rotation. They'll be playing more and releasing that album they recorded seven-plus years ago with Sikes and Congleton. "We have all these songs, and a lot of them would be on our personal top 10 [Pleasant Grove song] list," says Striplin.
"Stuart and John are both so good at what they do. They were two of the best engineers in Dallas at the time," says Ryan.
So yes, the one-off shows here and there have been fun, but this is something more. The current lineup of Striplin, Ryan, Hormilosa, Chris Mayes and Bret Egner will be in regular rotation, in Dallas and possibly elsewhere, as well.
"Pleasant Grove is back," says Striplin.
To get yourself ready for the return, here's "Impossible" from 2004's The Art of Leaving