Song of the Day: Three Mile Pilot – Still Alive

Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased tracks, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Each and every Friday we offer songs by local artists. Today’s selection, featured on the Midday Show with Cheryl Waters, is “Still Alive” by Three Mile Pilot from their 2010 album The Inevitable Past Is The Future Forgotten, released on Temporary Residence Ltd..

Three Mile Pilot – Still Alive (MP3)

The first things that come to mind when listening to Three Mile Pilot’s new album are that it has a quintessential San Diego feel, and that it sounds remarkably similar to Pinback — two things that go hand-in-hand. Three Mile Pilot, in fact, came about long before Pinback, forming in the early 90s, and can be said to be pioneers of recent San Diego indie rock. The similarities to Pinback make even more sense when taking into account that Armistead Burwell IV was a founding member of Three Mile Pilot before leaving to form Pinback with Rob Crow in the late 90s. Vocalist Pall Jenkins and keyboardist Tobias Nathaniel left around to same time to form the dark and brooding indie band Black Heart Procession. So not only are Three Mile Pilot pioneers of the recent San Diego indie rock scene, they essentially are the recent San Diego indie rock scene. They’ve all reconvened this year to release The Inevitable Past Is the Future Forgotten, their first album in over ten years.

Featured on The Inevitable Past Is The Future Forgotten is today’s Song of the Day, “Still Alive,” a fitting title considering the band’s recent reformation. Like the rest of the album, “Still Alive” bears more of a resemblance to Three Mile Pilot’s 21st century offshoots rather than the band’s original material. Burwell’s recognizable bass is present throughout the song, as is Pinback’s lightweight, airy tone that is practically made for cruising through Ocean Beach on a sunny, carefree San Diego afternoon. Jenkins’ initial verses have a melancholic air of Black Heart Procession, but the shouting, exuberant chorus of “Let’s ride! / Let’s just get away!”, complete with muffled echos, is classic Pinback. While these similarities are apparent, there’s also something to be said for the founding members getting back together and re-kindling their original chemistry and dynamic as a band, something that surely won’t go unnoticed by fans of the band from their hey-day in the mid 90s.

For now, at least according to their MySpace page, no future dates have been scheduled. They did, however, resume playing live last summer, and even stopped in Seattle during their brief West Coast tour. Read our review of their show at Neumos on July 20, 2009 here and check out a video from it here:

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