I don't mean to be a hype machine by any means, but when I'm passionate about something, there's usually an aura about it that puts me in said mood. It's a feeling I get from Portugal. The Man. It's a feeling that is only heightened every time I have seen them. This weekend, after seeing Manchester Orchestra's Spring tour and Glassjaw's blistering one off in Austin, there is room to say I was still riding a high going into two sold out nights of Portugal. The Man's show at The Parish in Austin.
The Dig opened up the night with low tone bass notes transferred to audience head bobs. The band is quite solid. There's definitely a New York feel to their composition, but it doesn't sound forced and is still built sharp. They have the ability to catch on, and it's hopeful with the release of their album Electric Toys at the end of April. Definitely a band to check out.
Next up was Port O' Brian. A lax groove hinged on a taste of folk and an aftertaste of rock. The duel vocals certainly add to the show as well. On the second night, the band handed out pots and pans for the audience to participate in rhythmic fun. The crowd held through the last tune as The Dig joined them on stage.
With the lights off, Portugal. The Man took the stage to a boisterous crowd (both nights). The first night seemed longer (by two songs), but it seemed like there was a bit of technical difficulty the second night. Beginning with "Stables and Chairs" into "And I," the band began both nights the same and in similar fashion to every show I've seen thus far. Sure, there are full songs, but seeing the band weave in and out of their songs is so much better and creates a feel live that is unmatched by any album. The band seemed so thankful for the attendance as they covered David Bowie's "Moonage Daydream" into part of MGMT's "Weekend Wars." The band ended each night in two different encores and played through somewhat different sets - both of which were full of jams and sounded wonderful in The Parish's room.
The slow fan base build the band has received has certainly payed off. Patrons were looking for tickets outside, and unlike Dropkick Murphys and Glassjaw scalpers the nights before in the city, fans were holding tightly to their tickets. The attendees' pay off was well worth any scalping.
For me, well I'm a Michael Bolton fan. I celebrate the guys entire catalog.
I dropped the cash to get the full package of American Ghetto (minus the shirt). I dropped it in my iPod and hooked it to the sound system at work as we closed tonight. For a Portugal. The Man fanboy, I'm in no way disappointed in the album. In fact, for the time it took me to get into The Satanic Satanist, American Ghetto is a world of closure.
It's funny. To be honest, I downloaded Waiter: "You Vultures!" when it came out based on buzz alone. I fell in love with that album. I bought it a week later. I bought the first American pressing of it over at Vinyl Collective. (I believe that's where our friendship started with that store.) Since then, I've anticipated, owned (both CD and vinyl of) every album and will be seeing the band for my fourth time Friday and Saturday in Austin - with interview on Saturday. (The fourth time I've interviewed the band?)
American Ghetto proves that a system is worthless without good music, and that good music is full of worth even without a proper system backing it. EqualVision has done wonders for the band, and fans like me have continued to support the effort, and it's definitely been a win-win-win situation.
I'm going to sit on the album for a few days and hopefully have my review up on Friday. (It's a busy week of shows/interviews for me and I have two friends coming in tomorrow night to attend said shows and check out Austin for the week.) It's definitely a portrait of a band that has come full circle. The title is apt as it cocoons itself around the band's previous venture of pop, wearing a glowing suit of the band's debut. More importantly, I wonder if this is the ultimate test for Portugal. The Man. Since things have come full circle, does this mean fanboys like me will worry about the band becoming stale, or will they venture out in a completely different, surprising direction?
I'm not sure. To be honest, I don't think the band are sure at this point. I'll find out Saturday though and get back to you. In the meantime. Go listen to American Ghetto. It's a jam. Enjoy it.
=====AP.net Blog Bonus Tracks=====
Titus Andronicus - The Monitor ---- Finally got it out of my Inbox. It's pretty sick. Reminds me of a West coast punk band being fronted by The Boss.
Ted Leo and the Pharmacist - The Brutalist Bricks ---- Leo sounds smooth still, but The Pharmacist and his guitar are gritty, and dare I say "a bit heavier." New Ted Leo album? Things have been good so far from the man...
Charlotte Gainsbourg - IRM ---- If you haven't heard this album, there's a bleak sense of pop behind it's angst....and it's absolutely catchy and beautiful!
After a very frustrating start to the year, things are beginning to roll for the most part. There are a lot of things I cannot reveal at this time, but AP.net is in for some amazing things in the next few months. Thanks for the awesome response (negative or not) to a new column I tried out on Wednesday. This was really cool to cap everything off as well.
As for the book, I'm running ahead, yet behind. The rest of my interviews are slowly falling into place, and the writing has been rolling, yet completely fucking up my sleep schedule. I'll go to work around 5 p.m., come home around 12:30 a.m. and stay up until 4 a.m., sleep and then try to get up early, only to roll to a bowl of cereal around 11 a.m.
The cycle has repeated itself for the past few weeks. Healthy? I'm not sure, but it has been somewhat progressive.
I'm working on the chapter about Botch's We Are the Romans and Coalesce's Revolution in Just Listening right now. The reason I'm so behind is the bulk of information I got about these two albums, and how I'm trying to piece them together. I haven't really touched the Coalesce part of the second half, but the Botch part has me thinking.
Landing at around the beginning of the decade, We Are the Romans' ideas are one of frustration shaped into creativity to move itself outside the box of what the band was observing around the hardcore scene. Already this year, I've been able to preview some albums that are doing just that. There are bands stirring to create something more meaningful and less fashionable.
It seems that this cyclical idea has been pertinent in the last few decades, and I began wondering if the second half of each decade will only be a processed downer to the ideas and creativity of its beginning few years?
On a positive note, if this theory holds true, then the next few years will be very exciting in not only the musical aspect, but the industry one. I contacted EqualVision today for some business, and to see if the press release for Portugal. The Man's American Ghetto held true to "no advances for review." Sadly for this fan, it is, yet in a way, it is exciting to see a band take the step forward in the new decade of D.I.Y. and placing the fans, critics, casual listeners and publishers all on the same level. Sure, a few of you spawn my jealousy due to a listening party, but that's the exciting thing about the model that is being moved forward.
Some ideals are coming full circle, and I couldn't have it any other way. It's 3 a.m. I think I'm going to shower and fall asleep to Robot Chicken --- there's writing to be had tomorrow.
If you check out the interview section, I recently did an e-mail chit-chat with journalist and author Greg Kot. If you ever wanted to know how we went from Napster to Reznor's Industry Revisions, then I highly recommend you check out Ripped.
I will have pictures from the New Orleans stop of the 10 for $10 tour with some thoughts on it (they're posi!) sometime this weekend when things settle down round here.
Also, received my Portugal. The Man deluxe package and Vinyl Collective exclusive color in the mail today. I won't post pics of the litho or shirt...looks just like the pictures that were on the pre-order.
Check it out:
(the orange one is the VC exclusive and the clear one is the band's color. EqualVision also has one on a purple swirl I believe.)
have a great weekend everyone!!!
love and respect!
P.S. --- I will have a guest Five and Alive again this week...who will it be?
Thanks for reading. The book is back in action too!
Scott Heisel : Minus the Bear :: Me : Portugal. The Man
Easy analogy? Well, it is what it is. With that analogy, I'll start by saying The Satanic Satanist is my least favorite album yet, but possibly one of their best. I guess that doesn't make sense, right? How could I disagree with something so amazing?
I bridge that thought be saying that I probably have listened to "Mornings" about 25 times yesterday, give or take. Three times to work. Twice on the ride back home. Three times to the grocery store, and so on...
"Mornings" is one of the best songs this band has ever written, and possibly one of the best songs of the year, up there with "Ready, Able" by Grizzly Bear, "The River" by Manchester Orchestra, and "Summertime Clothes" by Animal Collective.
All these songs are structured simple, but with drops of slide here, crescendos there, and constructive keys sprinkled throughout, these songs are some of the best since I couldn't put down "I'll Believe in Anything" by Wolf Parade.
The closer aside, I think Portugal have constructed their most accessible and well hinged album to date. They took the swagger of Church Mouth and the song structures of Censored Colors and blended them into less of an Abbey Road, and more of a Magical Mystery Tour.
This is good. MMT was the album my mother always played me that first changed the way I looked at music.
As for the rest of the album, "People Say," "Lovers in Love," and "The Woods" stand out for me at the minute. The problem with the album is that it may be too straight forward. The songs whirl right into each other, and a half hour is a bit over before you know it. This isn't to say each song doesn't stick out on it's own, but it just flows a bit too well.
That's the critic in me. I liked looking at this album from a band I hold so high, and then being a bit negative about it.
I can't wait for my deluxe package to show up in a few weeks, and even though I said I wouldn't check out the album until then (illegally download it), I had a friend at a store hit me up with an advance. (And no, I haven't let anyone else have it or burn it, just if you were wondering.)
Portugal. The Man are a band that deserves more credit than it seems they get these days. But I think their time is coming, and like earlier great artists, I think they're D.I.Y. ethic and constant song-writing is something that gives them a great bit of merit.
So much so, just by hyping the album through my Facebook status, I've had a friend ask me what stuff he should check out, because he liked what he had heard, and wanted more.
Today the world was rocked by losing a legend to this industry, our entertainment and popular music around the world. Micheal Jackson, through all the personal matters, you gave us funk and pop that was adored right before it imploded on itself, and processed to our new "tween" generation.
Not only was I shocked by this, I was also hit by the words of John Gourley today. It would seem that the band's new album has leaked, just like their three previous records. Are we surprised? Was Gourley? Well, no. But with age comes new wisdom and a new shine on life, and it seems without changing stance, Gourley has cemented his thoughts on the subject, and articulated them well.
Here's the deal. I downloaded the leak of Water: "You Vultures! and fell in love with the band. Their releases have made my top five list every year since they've come out, and with the exception of "The Pines/The Devil" 7in, I own all their albums on vinyl, including two copies of Censored Colors (pre-order and Vinyl Collective exclusive), as well as have ordered the deluxe package and the VC exclusive color for their new album.
I fucking love this band. Yet, I have not heard the new album. And at this point, I will not intend on downloading the leak.
I think Gourley covered 99% of both sides of the downloading issue in his blog. I must agree with his support issue, especially for a band like Portugal. The Man, who tour their asses off and I see them not get the same respect I see other "lesser" bands get. Portugal isn't the only band suffering this either.
But, music is still arguable at best, and with that being said, I hope that if you really love music, you do go out and support the bands you love. As for the money issue, I completely understand that point. I am right there with all of you on that, but if it came down to priorities (covering needs first of course), I would for sure put back into that which brings me so much joy.
Once that value is reciprocated back, our favorite bands can grow and reach a larger audience. The business has changed, and I think with the Web giving everyone easy access at a shot on stage, and hookers and blow in the back, we tend to fall into the image, and the 1, 2, 3 and then the 4.
Micheal Jackson helped shape pop music into a joyous, danceable thing, and he sold 750 million records doing it. I'm not saying that some of our favorite bands will ever reach that status...well, maybe Nickelback...but I hope that we can support them after taking a sneak peek, and possibly work together to weed out the crap.
From the Article: (John Gourley) "Everyone has fears and some thought as to where they take things," he says, explaining his idiot savant writing and recording method. "It's pretty simple to just take those ideas and that sound of music and just do it yourself.
It's not that intense of notes. We're not playing anything difficult as far as technical playing goes. It's more of understanding the sound." Laced with harmonies, cello lines and a barrage of choruses, the band still think they have a ways to go in another direction.
"The idea has always been having a straight forward composite of music," says Gourley. "But maybe we could do a record like Abbey Road, where you move song to song, with different styles all the way through."
Coming Soon (HOPEFULLY BY NEXT WEEK!!!) waiting for fact check, sorry
These Arms Are Snakes
I've received my United Nations limited edition CD package. Less than a week past the release date, I received my Portugal. The Man Censored Colors package finally. I didn't receive my LP though.
I'm a bit frustrated.
But good news: Special packaging really has its potential to save the business. You can't hide the fanboy that thrives within. I just don't know about a Benjamin to obtain a hand crafted mask or a huge handcrafted book or even a limited print poster-- but to each their measure of fandom I guess.
Money aside, the packaging deals as of late relate to the pressings of vinyl, something Virgil Dickerson of Suburban Home Records/Vinyl Collective once told me about his growing business. He said it has to do with owning a piece of small quantity or limited pressing. It's more special to own a piece of art that only a certain quantity of others own.
Limited pre-order packaging says something about the artists that take the time out to come up with the ideas of these things, and to do them at the best cost possible for their fans. In the latest issue of Alternative Press, UnderOath axe-man Tim McTague was described as being frustrated with the original pricing of his band's latest album's packaging deals.
Pricing is always an issue with fans. We're young and we're poor, well, I would think at least half of us anyway. So I propose a new idea. What if band's come up with around 5 or 6 items (not as far as Of Montreal went, but a good variety) and let fans make their own "package." Give fans the ability to make their own six pack of beer, that is either at a standard rate, or is gauged on price depending on the items chosen.
Another thing this all shows is the ability of a band to control another portion of what is essentially them as a business. Instead of just getting on and off stage every night, they have the ability to market themselves. They have more control of their image by having their ideas across your t-shirts, turntables and kitchen aprons. Having creative control in and outside the studio builds a better market.
Having good cooks in a kitchen means nothing if the front of the house can't present the art to the guest.
I'm sure there's distribution channels that are still dealt with, and saying that artists can completely abandon the old merchandising business model would be ignorant. They still have yet to completely abandon the distro model for records.
I'm sure when my Censored Colors LP eventually makes its way here, I'll be more than pleased with it. I enjoy the fact that artists are putting their heads into the merchandising side of themselves as a company, and it begins to pull the artist-fan relationship closer...but not too close now, we don't want to pull a Jodie Foster event here.
Happy, pre-3,000 views! Thanks for the reads everyone!
First off, I would like to thank Adrian for the spotlight. Without him, I wouldn't have even thought about doing something like this if it had not been for his suggestion.
Secondly, I would like to thank all the positive feedback, and those withholding a debate (please do not, let's argue, I get bored in class and that's why I end up with two C's in summer school, ugh!). If there is one thing that I have learned this summer in ethics though, is that you may think you have the ultimate point of no return, and then someone comes in, tears you down, but if you are humble enough, take the criticism as something to construct more ideas off of.
Lastly, if it wasn't the positive feedback from a bunch of strangers I've never met, hearing a band say that your article was one of the best written articles he's read in awhile dropped my jaw.
To that, I present it to you here. Want to know how the RX Bandits are doing and what the new Portugal. The Man sounds like, read on to this shameless plug. HA!
Besides the Spanish Final at 730 this morning, dealing with my apartment move, and the barrage of work ahead of me in the next few days (restaurant, reviews, and moving)...this has all made my day.
Thank you again. So much love. Keep watching reruns of Curb Your Enthusiasm, my favorite show at the moment,