Pillow Army
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Pillow Army

Seattle, Washington, United States | SELF

Seattle, Washington, United States | SELF
Band Rock Folk


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Pillow Army Marches on the Tractor"

In the waning light of a late Tuesday evening, the first bellows of an advancing onslaught were heard. Witnesses later reported the noise as "enchanting", "unusually affecting", and "bouncy", telling reporters that the four main instigators were alchemical madmen bent on changing the world. Medical attention was quickly given.

What few dared acknowledge at the time was that those brave, drifting souls (five of the six witnesses were never able to rejoin polite society; the sixth is a hostess at an independently franchised Bennigans in the upper Midwest) wore the first marks of Pillow Army's vision: a throw cushion bruise across the auditory cortex.

Fronted by former East coast roustabout and carnie barker Tim Franklin, Pillow Army features cellist John "The" Simpson, violinist Ben "Big A" Hawthorne, and Paul "Cupid" Culala on drums. Their unique arrangement, halfway between a chamber quartet and a slack-pop fantasy, pulls from the criminally unknown Jellyfish and Siamese Twin-era Pumpkins in equal measure, flavored with a bitter splash of singer/songwriter to taste. This is also, coincidentally, how you make Gunkan Maki.

Tonight, they're at the Tractor, the same place they completely destroyed all fans of Uncle Tupelo with this cover of Neutral Milk Hotel's Oh, Comely:


Submit now or wait for the knock on your door.

- Tyson Lynn - Seattle P.I. - Tyson Lynn

"Up & Coming 12/16/2009"

Ordinarily, when you put the word "army" into a rock-and-roll band name, it's ironic. But it's hard to listen to Pillow Army without imagining an army of musicians taking to the streets in celebration. Their sound (full of cellos and other string instruments and electric guitars and a hand-clapping chorus of dozens) is so big and so full of joyousness that an image of happy warriors is inescapable. The percussion leads you along like a parade beat—you can't listen to "You're Not Here Anymore" without wanting to march, and hug, and sing along—and their anthems are (I can't believe I'm saying this) actually meaningfully uplifting. Seriously. And not in a sloppy, sentimental Precious Moments kind of way. Sign me up for this army. PAUL CONSTANT - The Stranger - Paul Constant

"Love is the Drug"

Love is the drug

Calling cynicism on Pillow Army ... maybe

By Rev. Adam McKinney on April 14, 2010

Roxy Music taught us love can be a drug, but I don't think I've ever heard a song that depicts love and drugs coexisting together, and more or less equally helpful.

"I couldn't make it without you-without you and codeine."

So goes the chorus of "Codeine," one of six songs on the debut album by Pillow Army. The song, like much of the band's work, rides a fine line between sentimentality and cynicism.

Or maybe it's just good humor. Hard to say.

Take "The Price" as another example. On first listen, the song sounds like a harsher version of Okkervil River's "Singer-Songwriter" - an indictment of a so-called artist, this time relishing that the subject's lavish lifestyle will soon do him in.

But listening again, "The Price" starts to sounds more like Tim Franklin, Pillow Army's frontman, is condemning people who stand by and watch train wrecks - just like the one he describes.

In the end, though, Franklin may just find it funny - and I might, too.

Pillow Army is a band all about opposing elements. Acoustic guitar and a string section make up the body of most of the songs, but - more times than not - that calm is stabbed by raucous intrusions from loud electric guitars, working as a counterpoint to the loveliness of the other instrumentation.

"That's the sort of concept," says Franklin. "Even with the name: Pillow Army. Having the angular rock and having the sort of softness of the strings, at times clashing and at times working together."

Pillow Army is influenced by purveyors of a certain kind of aggressive folk, a brood Neutral Milk Hotel certainly belongs to. Franklin's band has even gone so far as to invite criticism with a cover of "Oh Comely," the towering emotional centerpiece of In the Aeroplane Over the Sea - a move that some would call blasphemous.

And here, again, I'm tempted to call cynicism. But I give Pillow Army the benefit of the doubt.

We can't all love Anne Frank, but we can feel deeply for Jeff Mangum, and I think Tim Franklin does.


- The Weekly Volcano

""To Comfort and Destroy" Review"

I've had a damn hard time writing this, for two different reasons. Reason the first: I love, love, love this band and its creative force, Tim Franklin. An East Coast transplant, Franklin moved to our fair burg just under two years ago and has since assembled around him a remarkably talented group of players to give his songs depth, movement, and weight. Now six members strong, PA is wily and agile, a division of scouts for a mysterious military operation. Which brings me to the second reason: Pillow Army is not easily categorized.

Featuring cello, violin, and flute (along with the more traditional guitar, bass, and drums), the songs of Pillow Army's new EP To Comfort and Destroy organically explore the possibilities of melody, explaining and requiring what for other bands would be wild shifts in temperament and style. If that sounds like high-falutin academic/critic faux-speak, let's ground it in the evidence presented.

Happy opens the EP as a deceptively bouncy pop song about a church social. It starts simple with a rolling tom lick and assertive guitar figure before expanding the coda into an expressive orchestral wash. With clapping hands, hollered choirs, and the sweet addition of flautist Kaitlin Morrison's harmonies, Happy more than lives up to its name.

Model Citizen introduces social criticism to the mix via Franklin's pure tenor--"another dull suburbanite, born to drain the world's resources, I eat and sh-t and throw away"--and the result is an ominous tension/agreement between lyrics and the hard gnaw of strings. A graduate of Berklee College of Music, Franklin's ability to separate and arrange voices (which, here, refers to all instruments) keeps the song's narrator from sinking, bashing and buffeting him with waves of conformity and expectations until it or he must simply stop.

The subject matter is revisited in The Price, a song darker still and one reminiscent of The Starlight Mints and/or The Pixies, with barely controlled feedback, skulking cello, and the first big example of genre shift: the bridge guides the arrangement from its trollish habitation out along the Irish countryside and then into the drawing room of an intimate manor. That its lyrics discuss pop culture's fascination with celebrity flameout ("perhaps an overdose will boost your cred the most, and every word you said will turn to poetry") shades the full cost of The Price.

Now we're four songs in and fully prepped for death. And while it's not completely fair to say You're Not Here Anymore is a meditation on the idea--the lyrics shy away from settling on death or break-up, which, I suppose, is an elegant way of saying there's not much difference between them--the plucks and squeals of string are too harrowing to be focused on much else. The resolution hinted at in the final lines ("you're not here anymore, but if you were, you'd want me to be happy") is left to drift away.

And then alights fully formed in Codeine. A love note, a warning, and an explosion, Codeine deftly wraps confusion around acceptance both lyrically ("I couldn't make it without you. Without you and codeine.") and musically, as the grounding riff is eventually obliterated beneath waves of distortion and the high song of violin. It's the perfect end to the EP: an overwhelming climax of intention as melody says what words cannot.

However, that's not how the EP ends.

Included as conclusion is a cover of Neutral Milk Hotel's Oh Comely. A great many people don't know who NMH are and I consider it a great shame. In The Aeroplane Over the Sea, the album from which this song comes, is a new classic and one of my desert island choices; the song itself belongs to an elite collection of compositions that were recorded right the first time and simply do not need another go-round. So I'm probably a bad person to judge this cover.

That said, Pillow Army believes in it the way I do. They do not futz with the presentation. Utilizing a stripped-down set-up--only Franklin and strings--they shift and tear at the unrequited love that fuels the song, growing into the cracks and up into the light.

Eventually, I realized a couple of things: 1) I need to let go, put my vinyl copy of ITAOTS away and get on with my life; and 2) I should think of it as encore. If Pillow Army did a five-song set that blew my mind like this EP did, said thanks, and stepped off stage, I'd be whooping and stomping until they came back out. If Oh, Comely was that encore I would never stop talking about it.

In fact, that's kinda what happened at The Tractor and I still haven't.

So, in summation, To Comfort and Destroy is amazing and as complete a realization of Pillow Army's talents as I could hope for. I can't wait to hear the full-length. I can't wait to see them again. - Seattle P.I. - Tyson Lynn

"Pillow Army Preview"

Mixing orchestral and indie, Pillow Army combines some of the best parts of both by doing things such as adding a string section to Neutral Milk Hotel. Their first EP To Comfort and Destroy came out in July and features a cover of NMH’s 8 min long “Oh Comely.” In late October, Pillow Army got a new cellist and bass player. Some bands like to have the strings and guitars battle over the song, but Pillow Army weaves the cello and viola into the music, laid down by the guitar, creating a depth that is hard to achieve. They have been hitting the local scene pretty hard recently, and were also featured as The Stranger’s Band of the Week.

- Nick Larzalere

http://www.seattleshowgal.com/preview-pillow-army-m-bison/ - Seattle Show Gal

"Northwest Folklife Blog 12-17-2009"

Seattle chamber rock group Pillow Army blends traditional folk with dreamy indie rock- combining a tight rock rhythm section with tasteful and dramatic sounds from the cello, viola, and flute.

http://nwfolklife.wordpress.com/2009/12/18/weekend-events-dec-17-20/ - Northwest Folklife

"Band of the Week"

Pillow Army's name grabbed my attention out of the hundreds of bands listed on The Stranger's Bands Page—it conjured up visions of little pillow soldiers with little pillow guns shooting little pillow bullets. It made me laugh. But it's the music that makes them this week's Band of the Week. The three songs posted on their page are simple demo recordings, but even so, the songs are memorable, lush with cello and violin that add drama and depth to the acoustic guitar tracks. Pillow Army are currently seeking a bassist and a drummer. They could be epic once they've recruited a full band. MEGAN SELING - The Stranger - Megan Seling

"Line Out - "Wasn't Dying Alone Fun?""

Last night, Pillow Army headlined at the High Dive. You have probably not heard of Pillow Army; that's okay. Most people haven't. They're a six-piece band—guitar, bass, drums, violin, viola, and one brave female vocalist who played the guitar, flute, tambourine, ukulele, and slide whistle over the course of the set. The funny thing about Pillow Army is that they give off an even fuller sound than you'd expect out of a half-dozen musicians; if you closed your eyes, you'd expect there to be eight or nine people up there.

Their set started off a little slow, but by the time they got to "The Price"—a song that begins as chamber music, transforms into a catchy little pop song, turns into an Irish-Rovers style breakdown, and then spins into hard rock, all in three minutes—they'd hit their stride. They mostly played songs from their debut EP, To Comfort and Destroy. Most of Pillow Army is best at creating songs with incredibly sad lyrics ("This is a song about dying alone," lead vocalist Tim Franklin announced before one song) that sound incredibly happy ("Wasn't dying alone fun?" bassist Tim McClanahan asked after the song was through). Listen to "You're Not Here Anymore" and you'll get a good sense of what the band is about: Sweet harmonies, folk trappings, and a willingness to rock, hard, when the situation calls for it.

By the end of the evening, the whole bar was hopping, spinning in circles and doing the jig. It's been a while since I've seen a band whip a small group of people into a frenzy on a Thursday night. Pillow Army plays next at the Comet Tavern on Thursday, February 18th, and you should go and see them play; they're really doing something special.

http://lineout.thestranger.com/lineout/archives/2010/01/22/wasnt-dying-alone-fun - Paul Constant - The Stranger

"Pillow Army's "Happy" -- uplifting Seattle pop"

The Seattle stop on my book-tour last month included a band, Pillow Army, a five-piece rock act that included a cello, violin, stand-up bass, kick-ass percussion, and some really goddamned great music. The first track off the band's debut EP, To Comfort and Destroy is a jaunty number called "Happy" that does what it says on the tin. I've listened to it about ten times in a row now (I shipped the CD home from my next tour stop, San Francisco, and it's only just arrived) and I'm incredibly happy. Now it's your turn. - Cory Doctorow - Boing Boing.net


Pillow Army - "To Comfort and Destroy"

"... really goddamned great music. I've listened to it about ten times in a row now...and I'm incredibly happy. Now it's your turn." - CORY DOCTOROW, BoingBoing.net

"To Comfort and Destroy is amazing and as complete a realization of Pillow Army's talents as I could hope for. I can't wait to hear the full-length. I can't wait to see them again." - TYSON LYNN, Seattle P.I

Pillow Army's debut CD, "To Comfort and Destroy", features five original songs and an orchestrated cover of Neutral Milk Hotel's "Oh Comely".



"... really goddamned great music." - CORY DOCTOROW, BoingBoing.net

"You should go see them; they know how to put on a great live show, their songwriting is top-notch, and they're on their way to being gigantic." - PAUL CONSTANT - The Stranger

"the songs are memorable, lush with cello and violin that add drama and depth to the acoustic guitar" - MEGAN SELING - The Stranger

"...halfway between a chamber quartet and a slack-pop fantasy...Submit now or wait for the knock on your door." - TYSON LYNN - Seattle P.I.

"Some bands like to have the strings and guitars battle over the song, but Pillow Army weaves the cello and viola into the music, laid down by the guitar, creating a depth that is hard to achieve." - NICK LARZALERE - Seattle Show Gal

Elements of your favorite indie bands march in the fluffy ranks of Pillow Army. Drummer Paul Culala and bassist Tim McClanahan drive the songs with a non-standard minimalism popularized by Spoon. Cellist Peter Ellis, violist Mara Sedlins, and violinist / vocalist Rachel Sage weave rich and complex sonic landscapes that appeal to fans of Arcade Fire and The New Pornographers. Soaring over top is lead singer / guitarist Tim Franklin, who’s raw energy summons the spirits of Neutral Milk Hotel and Violent Femmes. Armed with an expansive arsenal of brilliantly composed and arranged songs, Pillow Army is advancing quickly, so you better put on your cammies, grab your brain-buckets, and prepare for battle!

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