Thursday, November 1, 2007

Portugal. The Man - Church Mouth

Band: Portugal. The Man
Album: Church Mouth
Release Date: July 24, 2007
Label: Fearless

Three Word Review: Progressive, Blues, Transforming

Favorite Track: “Shade”
Why? It was a tough call. My original favorite track was “Bellies Are Full,” but “Shade” took this title. The vocal highs and lows get me every time. The lyrics are interested and almost twisted. Near the beginning of the track I can’t get enough of the section with the lyrics ‘shouted up to the Northern Territories.’

Least Favorite Track: “Sleeping Sleepers Sleep”
Why? It’s not a bad song, by any means, but it drags the album down in my opinion. It’s awfully slow in comparison to the new sound captured by the album. It has a nice pick up about a minute in, but the loop-sounding beat just doesn’t draw me in.

My Thoughts:
I was a big fan of “Waiter: ‘You Vultures!’” So, I was highly anticipating this album. When it came I was shocked to hear that it sounds very little like it’s predecessors. I’ve often thought that this is almost one half of “Waiter’s” sound, “It’s Complicated Being a Wizard” being the other. “Waiter” was a unique fusion of rock and programed synthesizers. It took a few listens to draw me in, but ultimately I was claimed as a fan. However, “Wizard” never quite got me. The rock sound had disappeared and the programmed beats too over. To me, it’s simple algebra, “Church Mouth” + “Wizard” = “Waiter.”

So, as I’ve said “Church Mouth” is a departure from earlier Portugal. The Man. It almost has a southern rock/blues sound to it, and its clear to see where some of the band’s influences come from. I like to think one of them is a personal favorite of mine, The Allman Brothers Band. You might be wondering, ‘what caused them to drop the heavy synth?’ Well, it was revealed in an interview, this progression came during a tour in Germany. Here, in the ‘States, bands typically have a few opens play first then have an hour set. In Germany P.TM was expected to play the entire show by themselves. No, not just a single one-hour set, but an entire three+ hour show. So, naturally they had to improvise and so this sound emerged as they jammed on stage for hours.

Why You Might Not Like It:
If you’re not a fan of blues rock or whining guitar this might not be your cup of tea. If the main reason you like P.TM was the synth, this might not tickle your fancy. If “It’s Complicated Being a Wizard” is your ideal progressive rock, you might want to steer clear, this time around. However, I say you should give it a try, you might not know if you’ll like it until you try it.

Final Say:
Definitely give it a listen! I’m very happy with what has come out of “Church Mouth.” It’s an interesting and compelling listen. I would like to see a return of the programmed beats in future releases, but I hope this sound sticks around. Also, the band’s art is very unique and interesting, you might want to check that out too. If you like it, I’ve heard they put on a hell of a show, so when they’re playing in town near you go check them out! I know I plan to.

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