The Great Escape Artist is a damn good rock record. Standard Jane’s Addiction formula: some balls out rockers, some ballads, some meandering epics, a few duds, a few unforgivable lines, a few great lines. Dave Navarro’s guitar heroics are laudable, awash in effects. Bet he’s big at Guitar Center. His Tumbler page is kinda creepy. Perry Farrell can still hit the high notes. The production is amazing. And, most importantly, it rocks. Think Twisted Tales is a cool track:
Heard this on the Who Charted podcast #48 with Doug Benson which was pretty damn funny, with Benson ripping bong hits as they quiz him in a new game called Chart Cheeba. Wishing I'd caught them doing Who Charted live with Sir-Mix-A-Lot. You can listen to that podcast here:
Anyway, Dragon Boy gets some good lines in...
Fallen for Hermit Thrushes. Inventive, melodic, complex. Avant-pop in the truest sense. Not many bands live up to that moniker. A rarified bunch, numbering the likes of early Mommyheads (Acorn, Coming Into Beauty, Flying Suit), Orchestraville (everything they made – they even pledge allegiance the genre on their website), Thinking Fellers Union 282 (not everything but definitely Strangers From The Universe), a smattering of others.
Avant-pop isn’t exactly math rock. Though they share affinity for dropped beats, tacked-on beats, odd time signatures, syncopation, sharps, flats, chromatic runs and complexity. Avant-pop has vocals; math rock usually doesn’t.
Hermit Thrushes embody avant-pop. Check out the four songs below, which come from a smattering of different records (Mystery Ocean, Wooded Blankets, Slight Fountain, Benaki).
All of these bear repeat listening; they hold up. They deserve more attention, more accolades. They’re the real deal.
They are on tour right now and play Seattle next Sunday night at 2020 Cycles with Lake and Lazer Zeppelin.
The Parson Red Heads: every now and then they get the formula just right. They’ve got a new record out, Yearling. Best tune is “Seven Years Ago” which right 1-2-3 of catchiness-groove-sentimentality. Yeah, when they get it right, it’s really good, hittin 3 part harmonies, let the pedal steel rip and tuggin at the strings just like so. Listen to it here:
Seven Years Ago
Seven Years Ago
”When You Love Somebody” is pretty good too, going for that classic rock rousin moment. There’s something kinda funny about “Unemotional” for as emotional as it is.
Said it before and will again: love the drummer for those Ringo-like on-the-beat beats.
They are playing The Triple Door on September 9th with Viva Voce. Will always have a soft spot for The Parson Red Heads since I saw ‘em at the small and friendly Amnesia in SF a couple years ago. When they miss, it can be rough, but every now and then they write a gem.
Portugal. The Man is one of the hardest working bands out there right now. They’re seemingly constantly touring. They develop and freshen their sound with every release and In The Mountain In The Clouds is their sixth album in six years. How many other bands are as proficient in the studio as they are? I can’t think of any. Their new album is their first on a major label but that hasn’t changed the progression they’ve been working on since the beginning. It has everything you expect from Portugal The Man; John Gourley's piercing falsetto, memorable hooks, and colorful guitar solos but it also takes their sound to their next level.
Portugal The Man have experimented their whole career. They were known for going into the studio without much preproduction and recording whatever music came out of their feelings, often resulting in prog-rock noise and free flowing jam outs. Their mainstream breakthrough The Satanic Satanist changed this with traditional song structure and very sunny and catchy tunes. In The Mountain In The Clouds takes their mixed bag of tools and sounds and turns it into a cohesive flowing piece of work. They take the cleaner mainstream structure and play with it, creating an album with layers and depthThe progression of the albums shows with by opening with “So American” an ironic rock-ballad and closing with “Sleep Forever” a mesmerizing psychedelic landscape. Along the way The Man uses every instrument they have to create diversity in their songs.
If you’re a fan of psychedelic guitars and catchy songs, Portugal The Man is a band to invest in. They’ll keep you interested by always morphing their sound in respectable ways. They’re always fresh with new material and around for tours. The question is: are they going to be able to make it seven albums in seven years? Either way, does that matter? For a band who works as hard as Portugal The Man, it shouldn’t have to.