Photo by Sarah Cass
A lot of folk music can be downright weird, conjuring up ghosts that wander Highway 61 or the Mississippi delta. Fittingly, the Pine Hill Haints term their sound “Alabama ghost music,” and that’s a pretty accurate description. The Florence-born band has released eight albums and ten EPs since forming in 1998, developing a fervent fan base through tours through the South. Their live shows are the stuff of legend: they’ve been described as “otherworldly,” with the band never playing the same setlist twice.
Essentially, the Pine Hill Haints are a folk band with a punk rock ethos (or is it the other way around?). On September 30, they’ll release The Magik Sounds of the Pine Hill Haints, album number nine (and they’re already recording number ten). The band is attuned to old things, from vintage recording equipment to song titles like “Seven On A Pair Of Dice” and “Rattle Them Bones”–“I love the titles to folk songs a lot,” concedes frontman Jamie Barrier. “They’re heavy.”
Yet there’s a modern slyness to the Pine Hill Haints. On “Ms. Pacman,” the band weaves a Southern Gothic spell, complete with a moaning musical saw. The obsession at the center of the song is reserved for the video game, but in the Pine Hill Haints’ world, that can be just as dark as any backwoods road to perdition.