Let me just say I love Ryan Dobrowski’s drumming. I love his slappy-echoey sound and his rolling, insistent beats. Now that Blind Pilot is getting the attention they deserve—and they do deserve it—the headlines are all about Israel Nebeker and his dreamy pure-toned boyishly husky oh-so lovely singing voice. So I thought I’d throw a little love Ryan’s way because he hits the skins with an insouciant brush tattoo that is indie-rock to the bone.
The Portland guitar-drum duo recruited a mini orchestra when recording Three Rounds and a Sound, and the instrumental surprises—mariachi-ballad trumpet, upright bass played with a bow, vibraphone—are as central to the album’s success as are the many pleasures of Nebeker’s lyrics. Every finely crafted song is worth a good listen or eight for the wordplay alone.
But, moving on to the question of the day: Why is Blind Pilot not The Shins? I admit there are striking similarities between the up-and-coming Oregonians and Albuquerque’s indie rock darlings, but there is an essential difference. The Shins are mellow but electric, with effects included. Blind Pilot is essentially acoustic. Think hipster vs. band geek (in a good way).
Blind Pilot opens for The Decemberists at the Wilma Theatre Sunday, May 24, at 8 PM. $29.