Exploring the ghostly sounds of 'Ghost Dance' by The Pine Hill Haints

'Ghost Dance' by The Pine Hill Haints is a good album that comes across as natural.
2010 Music City Roots
2010 Music City Roots / Beth Gwinn/GettyImages

The Pine Hill Haints have carved out a unique niche in the music world with their distinct blend of punk rock and traditional American music, often referred to as "Alabama Ghost Music." Their 2007 album, Ghost Dance, stands as a testament to their ability to merge diverse musical traditions into a cohesive and engaging listening experience.

The Pine Hill Haints incorporate a variety of traditional instruments such as the banjo, fiddle, accordion, and washtub bass alongside more conventional rock instruments (in addition to their history of sometimes using a musical saw).

Their sound is a vibrant mix of folk, bluegrass, rockabilly, and country influences, all wrapped in a distinctive Southern Gothic aesthetic. This fusion creates a sound often described as a mix of old-time music and punk rock.

Ghost Dance delves into themes of folklore, ghost stories, and the supernatural, reflecting the band's deep interest in Southern Gothic narratives and traditions. The album's tracks weave tales that evoke a sense of eerie mystique and adventure, as well as emotion, and their naturalistic vibe has led to them developing a cult following. They are also a reminder that not all Southern music is alike.

Notable tracks

Some of the standout tracks on the album include:

"I Never Thought The Day Would Come When You Could Hate Me So Dearly"

"Walkin Talkin Deadman"

and "St. Louis Blues"

Each song offers a different flavor of Americana, delivered with a raw and energetic intensity that has become the band's hallmark. At the same time, they don't sound like they're trying too hard to sound like anybody, and so they sound like themselves.

Reception and legacy

Ghost Dance received positive reviews for its authenticity and the band's ability to blend various musical traditions seamlessly. Critics and fans alike praised The Pine Hill Haints for their dedication to preserving and reinterpreting traditional American music with a modern punk edge. The album, though not a commercial blockbuster, earned a solid reputation among aficionados of country, western, and punk rock music.

Released on K Records, Ghost Dance may not have topped the charts or achieved massive commercial success, but it remains a beloved piece of The Pine Hill Haints' discography. The album showcases their commitment to expanding their sound and creativity, with full-length projects continuing to build on this foundation in the years following its release.

Ghost Dance is more than just an album; it's a journey through the haunted halls of American musical traditions, brought to life by a band that truly understands and cherishes the roots of their craft. Nashville Scene said in 2010: "The Pine Hill Haints are doing more than ever with as little as ever," and that can be just fine.

The Pine Hill Haints, on this album:

Jamie Barrier – Guitar, Fiddle, Tenor banjo
Katie Barrier – Washboard. Mandolin, Saw
Matt Bakula – Washtub bass, Banjo
Ben Rhyne – Snare drum, Snake rattle