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Saturday, June 16, 2018


The winner of the Best Pop Duo/Group Performance Grammy this year was Portugal. The Man. Despite the pretentiously punctuated name, I found their album, Woodstock, their eighth studio effort, to be very pleasing, and difficult to categorize. They are in the rock world, but are not guitar driven, with very danceable music with a bit of hip-hop thrown in.

They were founded by John Gourley and Zach Carothers while in high school in Wasilla, Alaska. Hopefully some day they'll be the most famous people to have lived there, supplanting the current person, Sarah Palin.

Although there are no songs on this record that I would want to skip, I want to discuss two tracks that I find to be perfect pop songs. One of them is "Feel It Still," which I had actually heard before through the world around me and didn't know was them. Gourley sings in a falsetto, the bass line is tremendous, and the song is punctuated by brass and saxophone that gives it a special oomph.

The other is the closing track, "Noise Pollution," which is the kind of song I could put on repeat for about an hour. It's a complex recording, with multiple layers. Gourley raps the lyrics, which contain a lot of French. Featured on the track is actress Mary Elizabeth Winstead, of all people. I can't listen to this song without moving my head.

Another great song is "Tidal Wave" which has a great hook, and "Number One" which samples Richie Havens' "Freedom," which was the opening song at the Woodstock concert (and perhaps a source for the name of the album).

Though not my standard cup of tea, which would have included guitar riffs, I found Woodstock a fine record and was glad to expand my horizons a little. This is definitely a band I would like to see live.

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