Singer-guitarist Joe Davis and his fellow Pinehurst Kids (guitarist Devin Morrow, bassist Caleb Gates, and drummer Rob Duncan) imagine a world in which the Replacements never broke up, but wound up absorbing influences as disparate as the Pixies and Sunny Day Real Estate and Jane's Addiction. The Idaho quartet, whose hometown provides the Kids with half of their name, made moves to Boise and then to Portland, Oregon, to find increasingly larger audiences for its dynamic and highly charged alt-pop. The Kids were able to pull together their self-released debut, Minnesota Hotel
, in 1997, which led them to the attention of Four Alarm Records in Chicago. Last year saw the release of the Kids' sophomore album, Viewmaster
, which showed a maturing and evolving band that was still vitally interested in the rock. This year finds the Pinehurst Kids switching labels (to Seattle's Barbaric Records) and releasing the most defined album of their career, the propulsive and emotionally direct Bleed It Dry
. With all the aforementioned sonic touchstones -- as well as a poppier take on the drama and majesty of Husker Du and a nod or two in the emotional direction of Everclear -- the Pinehurst Kids continue to defy the odds by creating albums that are both immediate and evolutionary. Bleed It Dry
may actually have benefited the most from the Kids' grueling touring schedule over the past year, as the band's roadwork after Viewmaster
took them across the country twice. The Pinehurst Kids' material has always been forged in the furnace of its stage presentation, and consequently, the band has always been particularly adept at translating its live sound in the studio -- but there's still nothing like the real loud thing.