On Pentimento, and growth

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I've had a pretty unique relationship with Pentimento -- it's a relationship that has spanned the three main jobs I've had in the music industry, and it's something that has changed significantly with each job I've had. 

First, I reviewed their debut EP Wrecked for AbsolutePunk, and even though that was a bad review written by a 20-year-old me, it was my first introduction to a band I would wind up really liking down the road. They were the first band I signed to Paper + Plastick Records as label manager there along with Light Years, and P+P helped the band navigate through choppy waters as Panic Records was...less than cooperative...with the signing. I remember sitting in the Paper + Plastick warehouse with Mike, Jerry, Vinnie and Lance, talking about what we should do to combat a Panic Records cease and desist letter that was preventing Paper + Plastick from properly releasing their self-titled LP. 

We decided that the band would write a blog detailing the entire ordeal in very thorough fashion. The album would be put online for free download, encouraging people to pay what they wanted to help recoup the cost of recording, mixing and mastering the album. All in all, I think Pentimento recouped those costs in just a week of having their LP available for pay-what-you-want download. It's my firm feeling that that record "sold" better by putting it up for free and being honest about the situation than it would have with a full publicity and marketing cycle. That was a pretty exciting time, to see something we came up with together working out, and to see the band's fans coming out in full force to help support a band that really, truly needed it at that time. It didn't hurt that Pentimento was, and still is, an incredible album.

Paper + Plastick did, eventually, release Pentimento on 12" vinyl, giving it that proper publicity campaign that it deserved. The guys toured a decent amount and the record got a second pressing as P+P also released a 10" EP, Inside The Sea, which saw these guys taking a small step forward in their sound. After helping release Inside The Sea and Red City Radio's Titles with Paper + Plastick, I became more and more disconnected from the label as I focused more on Bad Timing Records. Those were arguably P+P's two biggest releases to date, and they were definitely the two bands I worked closest with, so I felt that it was time to move on from the label as it seemed both of those bands would do the same. 

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Then Pentimento lost some momentum. They didn't tour as often and went to go write and record an album with Paul Leavitt, but had no label to release it on. Paper + Plastick was still an option, but I wasn't working there anymore. The guys sent some rough mixes -- three singles, I think -- to me and Zack, with unmixed versions of the rest of the songs. It was a big deal for BTR to take on this full-length ... I think it will go down as our label's biggest release for the foreseeable future ... but there was never much debate in the decision. We loved those songs and it felt full-circle to work with this band again. I'm so happy that it's out now (as of today) and that people can finally hear what I think is Pentimento's best set of songs to date.

I, No Longer is a fantastic sophomore effort from these guys. It's an album that sees a band growing more and more comfortable in its own skin, no longer afraid to take the risks and leaps that they've perhaps always wanted to try. Its first side is pop-punk-ish, combining the Taking Back Sunday and Polar Bear Club vibes as well as they always have with a twist of progression in there, while its back half shows the real step forward. Darker, moodier and down-tempo at times, the back half of I, No Longer showcases Pentimento at its indie-rock best. 

Everyone always talks about great "fall albums" and such ... and I think this is one of them. It's a blessing in disguise that our record plant took until last week to finally finish these LPs, because we originally wanted to release this album in the summer. But it's a fall album through and through. It's dominated my listening over the past two months alongside Better Off's Milk, TWIABP's Harmlessness, Foxing's Dealer and Noah Gundersen's Carry The Ghost

It's an album that many people have already called an AOTY contender. Instead of doing that here -- I'm sure you can already tell that I'm at least enjoying the thing -- I think I'll just drop the stream link right below this post. I urge you to give it a first listen when you have some time to devote to it. It's not just a big release for the record label that I run, but it's an album that, to me, represents years of growth, improvement, fine-tuning, mistakes and fuck-ups, reparations and apologies, rights and wrongs. It's an album that deserves your attention. 

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