A Great Big Pile of Leaves
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A Great Big Pile of Leaves

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"A Great Big Pile of Leaves - The Fiery Works II"

(8.75/10)
by David Taintor

Take a moment out of your day. Turn off your cell phone; cancel your appointments and dive into A Great Big Pile of Leaves’ The Fiery Works II. Take your iPod for a walk and plug into this serene and moving record. It will only take about 15 minutes of your time to get through it, but allow yourself to be taken by it. There are bright tones and colors contained on The Fiery Works II evocative of what you could expect to see in a sprawling natural environment – which is a theme of the record, and even the title of the band. It’s an interesting motif when you consider that Tyler Soucy and Pete Weiland reside in Brooklyn, New York, but somehow it works and is pulled off with remarkable poise.

A Great Big Pile of Leaves released both of their EPs on their website as free downloads, therefore having the potential to reach a wide audience. It’s a wise decision, and one that keeps the group prolific in releasing material.

The Fiery Works II picks up where the first one left off. Similarly to The Fiery Works, it begins with undulating guitars, clean in tone that eventually crescendo to a wall of sound, setting the tone for the remainder of the record.

“Bring Back Recess” kicks off with staccato guitars and layered vocals recalling times of playgrounds past. The Fiery Works II has such a rounded sound that it’s hard to believe only two people created it. They have a strong grasp of their sound and how they want to translate their music to an audience. Releasing their music for free shows that this is a band more concerned with artistic integrity than dollar signs and record sales.

When I wrote a review for Ghost of a Stranger’s record, I brought up the importance of their guitar playing. I wanted to reiterate some of those points in context to A Great Big Pile of Leaves. It’s obvious that Pete Weiland has the chops to produce some truly soaring guitar work, and he does so on The Fiery Works II, but not in the way that, let’s say, Avenged Sevenfold does. Instead, Weiland seems to be more concerned with writing songs and guitar parts that compliment those songs.

On the album’s closing track, “Drought of Snow,” Weiland opens with lush guitars positively dripping with reverb and somewhat reminiscent of Dick Dale’s surf guitar work. It’s technical, but not noodley, bright but not sharp, quick but not flabbergasting. “Stay outside all day! Never go inside,” sings Weiland, restating the themes of nature found on the record.

“Spanish for Smile” features finger plucked acoustic riffing that quickly transitions to relentless and infectious verses and choruses, making it one of the most enjoyable experiences of the EP.

Downloading A Great Big Pile of Leaves’ latest EP, The Fiery Works II is a win-win situation. You pay nothing and you get a remarkable recording. If you’re tired of hearing albums that are over compressed and over produced, this EP will be refreshing because it is neither, but rather a natural sounding record. So, what are you waiting for? Happy listening.

Artist: A Great Big Pile of Leaves
Album: The Fiery Works II
Label: Unsigned
Release Date: April 22nd, 2008
Reviewed By: David Taintor - TheDailyChorus.com


"A Great Big Pile of Leaves - The Fiery Works Collection"

(10/10)

A Great Big Pile of Leaves are giving away two free EP’s to download, I advise you to download them instantly. Even if you’ve never heard of them, I assure you’ll like them the moment the first guitar riff hits your ears.

The first EP, The Fiery Works is sensational. I don’t think words can describe how good this is. The opener track ‘User’s Guide to a Coloring Book.’ First off has an amazing title. So simple that people kick themselves at how good of a title it is but so simple to think of. Anyone would want to hear this track based on the title alone. It’s the shortest track on the first EP at 1 minute 36 seconds and has no lyrics anywhere. Just the melody to begin this amazing and unforgettable ride. The flow of the guitars and the simplicity of the drums puts this message in your head that these next 20 minutes will relax you till your muscles go limp, the hairs all over your body will stand on end and your eye lids get heavier as a smile unfolds on your face.

‘Conscious and the Fiery Works.’ Likes to play with your mind a little bit as the first 20 seconds continually starts and stops with sharp, short drum beats from Soucy and soothing guitar riffs by Weiland. The song then settles and flows into a peaceful verse as Weiland’s vocals begin before it dives into the chorus again bringing the hairs on the back of your neck to stand on end. By far ‘Hey Tangerine!’ has to be my favourite song on this EP, hearing the lyrics ‘Hey Tangerine, a fresh squeeze’ sent a smile racing across my face instantly knowing I will love this song. It’s like Weiland and Soucy know exactly how to please their fans with this song and knew they couldn’t go wrong with it. Weiland’s vocals in this song stood out by miles, his ability to sing is unbelievable and it sounds so natural and effortless.

My mind has been blown away and I haven’t been able to stop listening to these tracks. Knowing there is The Fiery Works II, it makes me wonder if it’ll be just as good or if they put their entire all into this first CD that they put their standards too high for the next one. But I know it’s not there to disappoint me. The Fiery Works has this feeling of sitting outside you’re back garden on a warm summer night enjoying the last hours of the day. It makes you want to sing along until you’re voice has gone and the neighbours complain of your bad singing.


The starting track on The Fiery Works II says it all in the title. Imagine you are having a dream with everything going the way you want it too, trying to reach your goals and finding out you’ve caught them. ‘Sleepsleepsleep’ would have to be the soundtrack of your dream. As each second goes by, the music builds and builds taking you one step closer to that goal in your dream. Powerful could be the right word here.

‘The Size of Dinosaurs’ is another great title; it’s the same as the opening track on The Fiery Works. When I first started to listen to this CD I saw that title and just had to skip the songs and go straight to this one. The tap of the high hat throughout this song possess your foot to tap along until the last seconds fade away. Even though the drums are simple, it does show off Soucy’s musically talent very well. I’m finding it hard to describe this song; you will have to listen to this song to know how good it exactly is. Words in a review don’t justify it enough.

The Fiery Works II is more ‘dancey’ and if you’re standing up you can’t resist dancing to the jazz drums and the rock guitar riffs. Me, I’m sitting down and my feet and head cannot keep still. This Brooklyn duo has this power over your body which makes you move some part of your body if not all of it. The production on these tracks is incredible, making you think twice about it being recorded in one of their bedrooms and living room. No I didn’t just make that up, it’s true. Unbelievable? I know. I’m trying to find anything I can criticise on, but if I have to be honest here I can’t find anything. Giving this a perfect 10 is a first for me, but why shouldn’t I give this a 10 if I can’t find anything bad? - AltSounds.com


"A Great Big Pile of Leaves - The Fiery Works II"

(8/10)
by Adrian Villagomez
A Great Big Pile of Leaves - The Fiery Works II
Record Label: None
Release Date: April 22, 2008

Brooklyn, New Yorkers Pete Weiland and Tyler Soucy, otherwise known as A Great Big Pile of Leaves, have returned with a sequel to their first release aptly titled The Fiery Works II. And, like before, they are offering this EP on their website as a free download. You can't ask for a better deal than that, so how about you go download The Fiery Works II right now, then come back and finish reading this review? Go ahead, I'll wait.

Are you listening? Good.

For those not in the know, these two fellas recorded The Fiery Works releases as DIY projects with Weiland covering guitar, bass, and vocals while Soucy played drums and worked on recording and production (with The Fiery Works II Soucy also took a swing as mastering). Granted I haven't listened to The Fiery Works as much as The Fiery Works II, but I quickly established the latter as the superior EP.

An instrumental track titled "sleepsleepsleep" starts The Fiery Works II off, and though it fits the mood of the album, I've been known to skip over it on repeat listens. The band hits their stride once Weiland's high-pitched voice breaks in; he has a better grasp of his own vocal ability on this EP compared to The Fiery Works, and his range is especially impressive as he sings background for himself on "Drought of Snow" (more on this track in a bit). The sound of the EP is relaxed alternative/melodic rock that isn't boring. Comparisons have been made between A Great Big Pile of Leaves and acts such as Minus the Bear and The Appleseed Cast. I'll admit I'm not familiar with those artists, so I checked out some of their songs on myspace to hear for myself. The comparisons seem fair, but I should point out A Great Big Pile of Leaves also have a pop flair that makes them easily accessible.

Reading over the lyrics I've found multiple references to the outdoors and the feelings the changing weather and seasons bring. Such is the case with "Bring Back Recess" in which Weiland sings, "It's going to be a lovely day / Despite all the sunlight getting in the way," an appealing sentiment to people like me who appreciate cloudy days. This outdoor-centric pattern continues in the previously mentioned song "Drought of Snow": "Missing the snowflake on the tip of the tongue / That tasted of all that I have ever known to love / Stay outside all day / Never go inside." These are the kind of words that should be fed to kids who keep themselves caged in with television and video games when there's a world outside waiting for them.

At first I accepted The Fiery Works II as an enjoyable EP lacking standout tracks. But I have found on repeat listens that the EP builds itself song-by-song until it culminates with "Drought of Snow." The combination of Weiland's high backing vocals and an assisting trumpet raise the song to a new high for the band; everything works so well together in this song.

I usually strain in adding length to a review, but it seems I've overstayed my welcome this time, so here's a quick closing statement. I wish more bands would offer their releases as free downloads - exposure is key in such a cluttered market. But even if free downloads were the norm, The Fiery Works II would still stand apart as a special five-track set.

Track Listing01. sleepsleepsleep
02. Bring Back Recess
03. The Size of Dinosaurs *
04. Spanish for Smile *
05. Drought of Snow *

* - standout tracks

Recommended if You LikeMinus the Bear, The Appleseed Cast, As Tall as Lions, cool autumns and warm winters

myspace.com/agreatbigpileofleaves - AbsolutePunk.net


Discography

EP - The Fiery Works - Released November 17th 2007
EP - The Fiery Works II - Released April 22nd 2008

*You can download both EP's for free at www.agreatbigpileofleaves.com

Photos

Bio

Mixing Indie, Jazz, Rock, and Pop with crafty guitar work, pounding drums, and catchy hooks, A Great Big Pile of Leaves have found themselves reaching fans with varying musical appetites. Using their lengthy backgrounds in music, they create a lush atmosphere with both serene and energetic dynamics to mold their sound.

After a year of touring in their previous band, Pete Weiland (24) and Tyler Soucy (22), formed A Great Big Pile of Leaves in the fall of 2007. The Brooklyn-based duo used the time off to begin writing and recording demos of their own.

The first six songs recorded accrued to create the first EP, titled "The Fiery Works". This album, released on November 17th of 2007, was entirely self-recorded and produced by Weiland and Soucy in a bedroom, and was given to all as a free online download. The EP quickly gained a substantial accumulation of online buzz thanks to coverage on websites such as AbsolutePunk.net. Within the first months of release, The Fiery Works had received over 3,000 downloads.

The band recently made a second EP available, aptly titled "The Fiery Works II", which was also entirely self-recorded and produced. This second EP was released as a free online download as well and garnered even more attention than the first. With great reviews given by AbsolutePunk.net and TheDailyChorus.com, both EPs have each been downloaded over 4,000 times to date.

With a quirky feel and talented song writing, A Great Big Pile of Leaves have crafted an undeniable sound that will have you singing along until the final note.

The band is currently recruiting live members and plans to be very active in the NYC scene this fall.