Best split ever? PBC pairs up with Uncle Bengine and the Restraining Orders

Well it’s been out and available, up and online for like a month or something, and not only is Uncle Bengine and the Restraining Orders one of the best band names ever maybe, but the Harrisonburg, Va.-based trio’s 13-song split with Prison Book Club, released on Funny/Not Funny Records, is one of the best pairings of bands on a split release we’ve heard together in recent memory.

Maybe, as with so many times in the past, anytime we’ll mention PBC we mention The Demon Beat. Their recent pairing with Elephant Child was solid; the bands fit well together as far as badass, jammed out garage rock.

But it’s been neat to see (hear, really) how PBC has progressed with their own mix of country and rock since releasing Required Reading in 2009. This split effort has five previously unreleased PBC songs with their take on Neil Young’s “Unknown Legend” thrown in, and has PBC maybe employing more slide guitar sounds via Adam Meisterhans.

So, if nothing else, there’s enough songs here for PBC fans to almost make an EP out of it in their own head.

John Miller, with his country-tough voice, continues to share singing and songwriting duties (and life on the road) with longtime friend Tucker Riggleman in PBC. A perfect voice for this band. “Lights of the City” and “Drinkin’ by the River” are almost perfect anthems for life in not-much-to-do, not-much-money West Virginia, Western Maryland, or wherever you are. Riggleman’s stripped down, ethereal and simultaneously haunting sounding “Darker Side of Town” is another example of this. Riggleman sings as much as pines:

“When you take the poison long enough

One of these days it won’t let you back up

There’s a darker side of town

That’s where all my friends are bound”

Miller’s somber and (maybe) sober “Wouldn’t We” rounds out PBC’s contributions in jammed out badassery, with clangy guitar tones giving way to soaring solos. Something of a theme song for the band maybe, Miller sings: “We are the wayfarers/We are the light bearers. We are what we are.”

Both PBC and The Demon Beat deserve kudos for getting so much music out on splits and EPs and whatever, in between their full-length releases. Ever since you heard about PBC forming, who was in it, you knew they’d be awesome. No surprises here. Will look forward to hearing more new stuff from ‘em. And thumbs up to whoever arranged the songs on the split. Great job.

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