Tommy and the High Pilots: American Riviera

Tommy and the High Pilots: American Riviera

Written by Ellen Marie Hawkins

tommy and high pilots, Relate Magazine, Relatemag.com

tommy and high pilots, Relate Magazine, Relatemag.com

(photo courtesy of www.myspace.thehighpilots.com)

I spent my teenage years listening to Tom Petty. I don’t think I truly appreciated them
until I’ve returned to them in the past few years. It seems like they’ve only gotten better
over time; I love their music so much more now than I did then.

So imagine my surprise when American Riviera struck me as a more energetic, livelier
version than Petty. With repeated listens, the similarities seem to be fading for me, but
I believe that Tommy and the High Pilots have struck gold with a timelessness that is
inspiring; there are songs on this album that will be as great in ten years as they are right
now.

Originally from California, Tommy moved to New York for a year where he wrote songs
for this album, the band’s second. Tommy explained, “I think I have a hybrid style of
writing in some weird way: the sand, ocean and mountains lying under the skyscrapers
and subways. That is American Riviera in a nutshell.” But to me, it often sounds like
these songs were written on the highways that connect the two coasts.

“American Riviera,” is the album’s stand out song. “This is paradise,” Tommy
sings repeatedly, “caught in a world of lucid dreams,” and later, “I’m paralyzed by
magic,” he makes it clear he’s created a beautiful world of his own. Everything about
this song works; it is the perfection the band has created. Their infectious energy
make “Motorbike,” a youth anthem about being free and independent, and “The Limit”
almost just as good. “The Limit” begins with the lyrics, “You can be an airplane/blazing/
and the sky would watch in awe,” and doesn’t let up. “You’ll be the speed, I’ll be the
limit.”

The album closes with “Carried by You,” and while it’s a great love song, it voices
Tommy’s love of the home he’s returning to. Drawing from great musical influences and
experiences that can only come from forcing himself out of his comfort zone, American
Riviera has some great music that listeners will be returning to years down the road.

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