A Look At Pulley’s D.I.Y Skate Punk History
Pulley: The Esteem Driven Engine Still Matters
Pulley started up in 1994, right in the beginning thick of the Southern California skate punk revolution of music that shaped my life. This 5 piece hard hitting melodic punk unit is led by Scott Radinsky who was no stranger the punk scene by 94 having been in Scared Straight during its 10 year existence (83-93) being heavy hitters in the Nardcore Mystic Records scene. They then went on to become skate punk greats Ten Foot Pole. Radinsky was in charge of that unit for their first 2 releases then forced to leave due to his pro baseball that he was already 3 years deep into. Being that baseball conflicts with the tour schedule of most punk rock I see it is making sense. That didn’t preclude Radinsky from being the voice of TFP’s seminal single My Wall.
Right outta the gate Pulley was a bit of a super group consisting of Radinsky from his aforementioned bands; Jim Cherry (may his soul be rested) of Strung Out; Matt Riddle of Face To Face and No Use For a Name; and Tony Palermo from Ten Foot Pole and Unwritten Law.
Pulley’s first drop in was 1995’s Esteem Driven Engine. A strong door kicker of a debut from these punk veterans. It slams open with Cashed In which would be a candidate on a best of record. Right away this first album sets a tone for more introspective lyrics which tends to happen to us punks as we get older. Take for instance Bad Religion’s material from the mid 90’s and forward.
Right after this was 97’s 60 Cycle hum. Again a really strong track starts the whole album off on the right foot, or left if ya skate goofy. The most interesting track on this was Noddin’ Off. It kicks like Ten Foot Pole or Scared Straight. I think kinda letting us all know that they remember who they are. Another overall solid effort from this board breaking unit.
1999 brought us @#!*, referred to as self titled. Honestly my favorite album by these guys. I believe it’s also their most popular. The lyrics start getting real introspective and the music on a couple tracks is even a bit dark. It’s still Pulley. The differences show growth in the band and they sound tighter than their first 2 albums. The stand out for me has always been Over It. Somewhat of a scathing indictment of the rat race that even the punk scene can degenerate into. Less of a middle finger and more a wake up call. The more incendiary and equally great track is Nothing To Lose. It’s been the background to a fuck you in my life numerous times. Just a great one to sing with and let something out.
2001 marked Pulley’s first album as a 4 piece, Together Again For The First Time. Jim Cherry had left the band to pursue Zero Down and dropped one solid album with them before he departed us. Despite the missing guitarist, this is as solid and tough an album as Pulley had put out. The first real stand out on this is “Hooray” for me. Another honest critique of the scene from the perspective of growing up but not giving in. The other one that hits me of this effort is “Same Sick Feeling.” Always sounds like one off of the 99 album and that’s not at all a bad thing.
2004 marked Pulley’s longest gap between albums. Matters shows the band hasn’t lost a bit of edge over their first 10 years. The band just sounds tighter with each offering they put out. It was also dedicated to their guitarist and friend Jim. This for me is like 99’s “self titled”. Most stand out on Matters is “Insects Destroy”. Has a bit of Bad Religion and Pennywise feel. Makes sense being that they were all label mates for so long. This marks Pulley’s final album on punk rock Olympus of Epitaph records and their last full length to date.
2009 after about 5 years Pulley gave us their first ep on a new label, Time Insensitive Material. “Ghost Inside My Skin” is the stand out of this short offering. It’s a blend of classic Pulley with some new ideas. The first glimpse of something new to come. 20011 gave us “The Long And The Short Of It” ep. Coming in at only 3 tracks, it leaves me hoping for a full length in the near future. There’s been rumors swirling around a new full length since 2012. I was fortunate to see them play recently. After 20 years of Pulley and 31 years of Scott Radinsky, neither part shows any sign of letting up for a long time to come.
Check out Pulley if you don’t know ‘em, re listen or catch ‘em live if ya do.
Article published in the popular Mega Zine STAMINA #3.
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