Every Friday, I scour the internet for new music releases. The weekly Friday Awards will highlight my favorite discovery each week, with a special emphasis on artists that are new, new-ish, or new to me.

Marigold © 2020
Rough Trade Records

This was an interesting release — more interesting for the talk around it than the music itself. The music on Marigold is precisely on par with what Pinegrove fans (“Pinenuts,” as they’re sometimes referred to) have come to expect from 2018’s Skylight or 2016’s debut Cardinal, although some of the magical spark of that debut has gone missing. The charming, somewhat-unique mixture of emo and americana that frontman Evan Stephens Hall specializes in will still work its way into your memory and your heart within one or two full listens of the album. That is, if you choose to even give this album a chance.

Many non-fans and ex-fans won’t give Marigold a moment of their time or a cent of support, following the allegations of sexual coercion that came out against Hall in 2017 (which resulted in a hiatus and a delayed album release for Skylight). Prior to listening to Marigold, I decided to do some digging, and the results were fascinating. Depending on which news sources you read, or which ones you believe, Hall has possibly met the terms for retribution set forth by his accuser; you might also read that Hall’s rehabilitation was fictional and that his accuser doesn’t think justice has been done at all. Some reports of Hall’s behavior sound legitimately criminal, while others make the “sexual coercion” sound slight and unworthy of such attention and discourse. Basically, if you want to listen to Pinegrove, there is enough “evidence” to support that you are still right to be supporting them; meanwhile, if you think that Hall’s creative ventures should receive no more support, there’s “evidence” for that, too. Either way, the internet is filled with people talking past each other, asserting what’s actually true and what’s actually right.

I don’t intend to put forth my personal view or take on the situation; at the very least, I know that I’m too far removed from it all to truly know what happened. Either way, I do my best to listen to music with an “art-artist separation” — which can be hard in moments where Hall’s heart-on-sleeve lyrics seem to directly be dealing with his life in the aftermath of the accusations. Yet, in those moments where the music is able to sweep you away, Hall’s signature “literature arts rock” is as effective as ever.

Still, it seems that everyone is this day and age needs to be reminded, as Hall reminds himself on the opening track “Dotted Line”: “May no fantasy hold my head up / Nor may no memory fold my head in.” Now, whether you can accept this reminder from Hall himself, or whether you need to hear it from someone else, is up to you.

Author’s Note: The reason I created this website and write these articles stems from my belief that artists should support other artists, in the same way that art inspires art. My debut album Unfall is out now, and I’d love for you to hear it.

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