There must be something in the air in Athens, Georgia — it has produced a long line of prolific artists and rock bands. R.E.M., Vic Chesnutt, Drive-By Truckers, the B-52s, and now, The Pink Stones, a six-piece outfit creating some of the most shimmering, melancholic Southern rock in years. Their debut, Introducing … The Pink Stones, is pure Americana presented through a blue haze like an absolutely beautiful bummer. The songs on Introducing are tinged with regret and heartbreak, anthems for a reluctant underdog just trying to figure things out one step at a time, and in turn, they’re tailor-made for these times.
Introducing isn’t made up of purely literal country tunes, but there’s an unmistakable emo twang in frontman Hunter Pinkston’s voice that will break your heart like only the best country song can. He uses it to hit all the right places, whether he’s likening a lover to osseous matter, and himself the dog drawn to it (the tony “Shiny Bone”), or lamenting the tortured, overstayed welcome of a relationship outgrown (“Sweat Me Out”). Band member and Drive-By Truckers veteran John Neff lends devastating velvety pedal steel to the songs on Introducing as a harmonica wheezes in the background. That same slow burn somber mood penetrates the groovy, midtempo “Blueberry Dream” and the swooning “Dream So Sweetly,” showcasing the band’s knack for turning wistfulness into earworm melodies.
The sun goes down, the neon comes on, and the beers begin to slosh when The Pink Stones show off their bar band chops with the rollicking “Barroom Blues,” and the swaggering “Let’s Sit Down” and “Love Me Hardly.” Adam Wayton’s slinking bass lines and the band’s three guitars make for abundant arrangements that fill every inch of space like a good pour. Introducing doesn’t just tell us who The Pink Stones are, it gets us tickled for what they’ll do next.