red lights

Concert Livewire
concert reviews cd reviews interviews featuresticket swap music news

Back to the future

Portugal. The Man - Church Mouth
(Fearless Records)
4 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: Aug. 15, 2007
Portugal. The Man

Review by Tony Bonyata

Ditching the more experimental avant-garde indie approach from their 2006 debut, Waiter: "You Vultures!," rock trio Portugal. The Man sound as if they've discovered a frozen prehistoric behemoth in their hometown of Wasilla, Alaska and used it as inspiration for their harder-hitting follow-up Church Mouth.

Gone, for the most part, are the drum machines and electronic samplings that fed their previous effort, in favor of aggressive guitars and pummeling rhythms extracted from the amber walls of rock arenas from the early '70s. While this may be bad news for the hip, shoe-gazing indie kids, it actually makes for a much more interesting affair for the rest of us.

If the impeding crunch of Led Zeppelin and the primal urgency of The White Stripes spring to mind throughout this fantastic collection it shouldn't come as a surprise since, like these two acts, Portugal. The Man is now re-channeling the grit of the Delta blues into their own snarling monster, as proved on the long snake moan-turned-stampeding triceratops rockers like "Children," "Bellies Are Full" and the snarling "Telling Tellers Tell Me." The decidedly more laid-back bluesy track "Sun Brother" turns out to be no less interesting, while the more accessible rock of "My Mind" which, with it's short but heavy concluding guitar solo, sounds as if they're taking a trip back to the psychedelic blues scene of the Haight-Ashbury in the late '60s.

Unlike Zeppelin and The Stripes, however, this trio from the Last Frontier effectively blends both hard-hitting rock and quirky indie sensibilities with broad strokes of avant-garde art onto their colorful palette. The album opens up with the theatrical title track with guitarist/vocalist John Gourley trading off his high-pitched pleas with aching howls during the indelible chorus, before the frenetic beats of "Sugar Cinnamon" provide a groove that's nearly impossible to escape. Other gems such as "Oh Lord," "Dawn" and the sweeping "Sleeping Sleepers Sleep" are all challenging compositions that further help set this exciting new act apart from not only some of the aforementioned bands but also practically every new indie act worth their salt today.

As Portugal. The Man successfully demostrates on this effort, it's sometimes necessary to go backwards to move forward.

Watch Portugal. The Man Interview

What Do You Think?



City & State:

e mail:

Here's Your Chance to.... Respond!

Your feedback will be featured on
Rant or Rave within 24 hours.

Return to CD Archives
Return to CD Reviews
Return to Menu