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Pinegrove releasing new album Friday

Pinegrove at Bowery Ballroom
Pinegrove at Bowery Ballroom in 2017 (photo by Amanda Hatfield)

Last fall, Pinegrove frontman Evan Stephens Hall issued a statement saying that he had been accused of sexual coercion, and that “my actions have caused someone i care about deep emotional pain and i am so sorry.” Pinegrove cancelled their 2017 US fall tour, and later cancelled their 2018 Europe tour. They had planned to release their new album Skylight on March 2 via Run For Cover, but the album was shelved.

Now, in a new Pitchfork feature by Jenn Pelly titled Reckoning With Pinegrove, it has been revealed that Pinegrove are self-releasing Skylight this Friday (9/28). The piece states that while Pinegrove were not dropped from Run For Cover, “there was ‘some discomfort expressed’ from other artists on the label about Skylight’s release” according to Hall, and Pinegrove plan to work with a different label in the future. The band will be donating all proceeds from Bandcamp sales of the new album to Voting Rights Project, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and Musicares.

In the Pitchfork feature, Pelly writes that she initially spoke to the band “to report what I thought would be a fairly triumphant profile of Pinegrove as they worked on their new album, Skylight,” and later on, she writes, “After reading Hall’s perplexing statement, it was my instinct to abandon this Pinegrove piece. But to ignore the story ultimately felt like a denial—of nuance, of truth, of the complications of the world we live in now, where these stories are objectively not all the same.”

The feature addresses several aspects of this complicated situation, including the controversy surrounding the instigation of Hall’s statement by a series of emails sent to Run For Cover and Cleveland’s Snowed In festival by Punk Talks founder Sheridan Allen:

But even by sending that initial instigating email to Pinegrove’s label and promoters, Allen was possibly overstepping her boundaries. If Allen’s mission was to facilitate mental health treatment, then, as one licensed therapist told me, it would be unusual “to offer that service and then also be engaging in these unofficial accountability processes.” Mental health support is a markedly different resource than a community-based accountability process. “It would be incongruent with the mission [of a mental health provider] to approach this person and say, ‘You’re a perpetuator,’” the therapist told me. “If a therapist is going to engage in reparative accountability work, that would be extremely confidential. Everyone would be consenting to engaging in that.”

Pelly also spoke to Hall about the uncertainty or vagueness of Hall using the term “sexual coercion” in his statement:

Of his chosen language in the statement, Hall said, “A lot of people took issue with the phrase ‘sexual coercion,’ because they understood it was evasive, like I was obscuring a more serious accusation. But I included that phrase because that was the language used by the person I was involved with. It was meant as a symbol of respect to have her dictate the language of the conversation. In the context of our relationship, she felt that I had sometimes pressured her into having sex—not physically, but verbally and contextually.”

Pelly also spoke to Nandi Rose Plunkett, who leads Half Waif and plays in Pinegrove:

As the only woman in Pinegrove, Nandi Rose Plunkett had a singular perspective on Hall’s situation. (A multi-instrumentalist, she left the group’s full-time lineup at the end of 2016 to pursue her own project, Half Waif, though she still performed on Skylight; she is currently engaged to Pinegrove’s Zack Levine.) Plunkett made her support of her bandmate clear: “I do not think Evan is at all a threat to young women attending shows,” she wrote via email. Plunkett added that she has had “many productive conversations privately” about the allegations against Hall, but said it has felt “daunting” to speak in public. “Still, I’m hopeful that the space is beginning to open up for these challenging conversations,” she said. “I want any young female fans and fellow musicians to know that I’m fighting for them. I’ve dealt with a lot of challenges as a multiracial woman and I’ve been thrust now into the middle of a situation that I never imagined I’d be a part of. But I’m learning a lot from it, having tough conversations and pushing myself and those around me to dismantle the structures of privilege that have built and bound us. In order to grow into a more loving and understanding community, we have to work towards healing through sensitive and open communication. And that’s what we’re trying to do.”

You can read more of the very in-depth feature at Pitchfork.

Update: Run For Cover tweeted, “To clarify the Pitchfork article, we will not be releasing the next Pinegrove record or working with them in the future.”

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