The Lords of Portland, or as you probably know them, Portugal. The Man, graced Vancouver with their presence fresh off their Grammy win for “Best Pop Duo/Group Performance” for two nights at the Vogue Theatre. Someone who has newly discovered Portugal. The Man or a fair-weather fan may not feel the gravity of the band’s growth. I hate to ring true to what PTM pokes fun of – “I liked Portugal. The Man before they sold out” – but, what can I say? I damn well did. But also, I still do. I’m a big fan of this self-aware sentence that now adorns their merch for a few reasons, but the most prominent is because it is inadvertently saying that you knew them when, and love them still. To be successful in music, it’s imperative to treat what you do as business. From the looks of it, Portugal. The Man have finally nailed the full package.
Portugal. The Man were in Vancouver just over a year ago playing the Commodore Ballroom stage. The lighting was different, the crowd slightly more sparse. Something huge happened between the last time they were in Vancouver and now; the release of Woodstock. Touring for their 8th studio album – yes, it’s true, they’ve been around for that long – PTM have made it clear that with almost 20 years in the business, they’ve mastered a very specific sound. An indie band that hasn’t been “indie” in nearly a decade, PTM have span the better part of the 2000s experimenting in rock varietals, pushing the limits lyrically while revelling in their own personal influences. They speak of growing up in Alaska listening to Wu-Tang Clan, have an album name inspired by David Bowie, wear Slayer t-shirts and open their show with two covers: “For Whom the Bell Tolls” (Metallica), and “Another Brick in the Wall” (Pink Floyd). So, in the off chance you’re only familiar with “Feel it Still”, you can feel right at home with classics – Portugal. The Man, they’re just like you!
One of my personal favourite things about PTM – besides their writing, and John Gourley’s infectious voice – is how they experiment instrumentally. Listening to PTM’s albums, the breadth of bass and guitar (for instance) is evident. From harder rock, to funk, to blues, they cover it all in their distinct psychedelic way. And though the albums may sound like pop records at first listen (which of course there is nothing wrong with), it takes a keen ear – and maybe an enthusiastic fan to also see them perform live – to note that what they put out there is something acutely exceptional which resembles that of someone(s) trained in rock & roll.
For a group that tours a decent amount (with no sign of slowing down) they play an unexpectedly exciting setlist. They know how big they’ve become in the last year, even still, it’s LP Evil Friends (2013) that is performed almost in entirety. A couple of their older songs are sprinkled in for good measure; “So American” and “People Say”. That said, it would be assumed that “Feel it Still” would be their hold back number until the end or near the end. But it’s planted somewhere in the middle with Oasis’s “Don’t Look Back in Anger” as their 2nd last tune before ending with “Number 1” (among the first 3 singles off of Woodstock). PTM obviously has a sense of humour, one that fans of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia would have picked up on when they decide to play the song “Dayman”.
Portugal. The Man are the kind of band that’s in on the joke – you can call them rock for hipsters, you can say they’ve sold out. It truly does not matter. They’ve fooled us all. A live performance to near perfection, complete with varying pieces/genres of art scattering across a screen behind them to go along with an 80s era light show. I’m consistently roused by whatever Portugal. The Man does and already cannot wait for their return.
Check out the band’s video for their hit single “Feel It Still” here.
The Eighty Six Seas – ‘Scenes from an Art Heist’ [Album Review]
Overall, this album does exactly what it sets out to do in encapsulating a fictionalized version of a famous art heist. Well done, The Eighty Six Seas!
On February 23, 2024, The Eighty Six Seas released their first 11-track full-length album, Scenes from an Art Heist. Each track on this album is meant to represent a fictionalized story of the paintings stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 1990.
The first track sets out an eerie aura that aligns with the track’s title, a dedication to Isabella Stewart Gardner. The next song is a quick switch up from the first, with flighty strings and a whispered voice from lead singer Nick Stevens.
Moving on to track number three, “Coffee and Art,” you’ll hear a faster-paced, nearly techno piece that feels like caffeine hitting your bloodstream for the first time in the morning. Their next song, “Jenny,” is a piano-led ballad spotlighting Steven’s melancholy voice. With “Lonely Afternoon,” the track transforms back into the techno feel of “Coffee and Art,” but with a darker twist.
The next song, “Cat/Mouse,” sounds exactly as you’d expect—like a tense cat-and-mouse standoff, with the music accenting this push-and-pull dynamic. “Hey Little Bird” is more or less an instrumental, with occasional lyrics included, but it is clearly meant to be the interlude.
Moving on, we arrive at a track called “The Day I Die,” a techno piece with a fabulous crescendo after its quiet beginnings. Following that, “The Eighty Six Seas” provides its track, “Portrait of a Smuggler,” which quite literally encapsulates the feeling you have while walking through a park on a sunny day.
Next, we come to “Ghost in the Cityscape,” which has darker undertones, a sorrowful cello, and a slower tempo. The final piece is titled “Frames,” which will remind you of a love letter saying goodbye or a beautiful lullaby. Overall, this album does exactly what it sets out to do in encapsulating a fictionalized version of a famous art heist. Well done, The Eighty Six Seas.
Scenes from an Art Heist Track Listing:
1. For Isabella, March 1990
2. Scenes from an Art Heist
3. Coffee and Art
5. Lonely Afternoon
6. Cat / Mouse
7. Hey Little Bird
8. The Day I Die
9. Portrait of a Smuggler
10. Ghost in the Cityscape
Release Date: February 23, 2024
Record Label: Independent
Glixen – “foreversoon” [Song Review]
On “foreversoon,” Glixen created a song where youthful exuberance clashes heavenly with the established shoegaze sounds of yesteryear,
It’s been less than a year since Glixen released their debut EP, She Only Said, on Julia’s War Records. Still, the Phoenix shoegazers have already dug their heels into the DIY music scene and are heading out on an extensive US tour this year alongside the likes of Interpol, Softcult, Glitterer, and fish narc. Appearances at SXSW and Treefort will only further cement their reputation as a new band worthy of note.
To herald the busy year ahead, the band has released a new single, “foreversoon,” via the AWAL label, and it’s well worth a listen.
Says lead vocalist Aislinn Ritchie:
“‘foreversoon’ represents blissful moments of new love and intimacy. The song harnesses melancholy chords, layered with fuzzy red melodies and gliding guitars that pull you in deeper. I wanted my lyrics to feel like a conversation that expresses my infatuation and sensuality. Time is relentless and memories are fleeting, this song encapsulates those emotions forever.”
It’s a fair summation. Its youthful exuberance clashes heavenly with the established shoegaze sounds of yesteryear, think Ride, Curve and Slowdive, but with the fuzz cranked up possibly higher. Ritchie’s vocals certainly share that dreamlike quality of Slowdive’s Rachel Goswell, and with many of those bands back on the road this year, perhaps the time is ripe to inject fresh blood into the genre.
Run Time: 3:43
Release Date: February 9, 2024
Record Label: AWAL Recordings
Mieko Shimizu Premieres Music Video for “Unworldy” Single “My Tentacles”
Get stoked, cause radical multi-instrumentalist Mieko Shimizu premieres the video for the reworked single “My Tentacles.”
Radical, nonconformist Japanese singer and multi-instrumentalist Mieko Shimizu recently re-released her offbeat, unworldly single “My Tentacles.”
The single is the offbeat, unworldly title track of Mieko’s soon-to-be-released album. It is be-thronged by chimeric fusions, dysfunctional beats and startling mutations. The single is unaccompanied by an equally radical video created by diz_qo.
Speaking about the track, Mieko tells us:
“‘Emergence,’ the book by Steve Johnson, fascinated me; a colony of ants, a sprawling metropolis, and human brain cells, are all features of the unknown science of self-organisation. I wanted to cut down into society and sing a simple song about people as single cells.”
The multi-instrumentalist explains further:
“They interconnect with the multitude and conjure up a whole that is wiser together than we are individually. When my tentacles reach out and touch you, communicate with you then we become something else, something more than just an individual.”
For those who aren’t familiar with the name, Mieko has played at Sonar alongside Kraftwerk, as well as support for Goldfrapp and Massive Attack at their Melt Down Festival. She is currently an artist in residence for Wonky Plonky Electronk, an experimental, electronic live event which is touring the UK throughout 2024, the next show being on 28th March at The Cinema Room at All Is Joy in London.
Mieko has worked with an extensive range of artists, including Japan’s Mick Karn, Nitin Sawhney, Riz MC, David Cunningham, Robert Lippok and has also remixed the likes of Coldcut and Haruomi Hosono of Yellow Magic Orchestra.
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