Am I evil? Yes, I am.
-- The Misfits
Are we evil? We are evil.
-- Father Murphy
This Father Murphy isn't a kindly Irish priest or a cozy
British sitcom, but a musically voracious Italian trio. Singing
primarily in English, Torino's Rev. Freddie Murphy, Chiara Lee,
and Vicar Vittorio Demarin raise an unholy racket (okay, they ask-
ed for that). Actually, they also throw in a few folk-oriented, or-
gan-fueled dirges, but a sonic explosion is always just around
the corner. Not as overtly psychedelic as their pals Jennifer
Gentle, I can still envision them playing on the same bills.
Portugal. The Man, The Satanic Satanist, Ap-
proaching AIRballoons/Equal Vision Records
In reviewing last year's Censored Colors, I compared Portugal.
The Man to "art rockers like Soft Machine, Animal Collective,
and Menomena" and praised the vocal harmonies of the Portland-
by-way-of-Wasilla trio (yes, founders John Baldwin Gourley and
Zachary Scott Carothers hail from the home of Sarah Palin).
Bolstered by 10 addition-
al musicians, including Cornershop sitar and keyboard player Anthony Saffery, their fourth full-length is an immediately
more accessible, less heavily multi-tracked affair; closer to Of Montreal than Menomena.
The harmonies are still there, but they take a backseat to subtle
country flourishes and shuffling dance beats. In the press notes,
singer/guitarist Gourley explains, "I was really trying to go for the more Motown structure than anything...really short, tight songs."
At times, they almost evoke "Miss You"-era Rolling Stones, es-
pecially on "Work All Day," a development I wouldn't have seen
coming, although I'm not complaining—not too much, at any rate.
The album starts to sound samey as the first half gives way to the
second, but I still predict this elaborately-packaged CD will re-
ceive more attention than anything they've recorded to date.
Portugal. The Man plays Seattle's Chop Suey on 9/17.
Quixote, self-titled, self-released
That's Quixote and not Quixotic, altough you could describe this Brookline, MA quintet as such, since they work jazz, country, and post-rock influences into their pungent pop ("Annunaki" could pass
for a lost duet between the Minutemen and Aztec Camera).
As violins and horns dance around him, Joel Stulpin sings as if his life depends on it. His sympathetic sidemen include Anthony Val-
era (guitar), Evan Murphy (drums), Justin Demers (bass), and
Greg Prendergast (keys). And hey, is that an accordion I hear?
Mount Eerie, Wind's Poem, P.W. Elverum & Sun [8/18/09]
Most artists get quieter or
more accessible as they get
older, but Anacortes, WA one-
man band Phil Elverum contin-
ues to lay down rumbling, some-
times pummeling noise on the
third Mount Eerie platter,
which takes wild, untamed
nature and Twin Peaks, i.e. wild, untamed humanity—hence the
occasional "heavenly choir" effect—as its guide. While his subdued
vocals recall Neil Young, circa Harvest, his instrumental excur-
sions aren't so easy to describe, ranging as they do from experi-
mental rock to dark metal (not that the two subgenres don't share
similarities). Like all Elverum & Sun releases, the packaging, par-
ticularly the foil-stamped LP, is as lovingly handcrafted as ever.
Click here for my review of Black Wooden Ceiling Opening
Endnote: For more information about Father Murphy, please click here; for Portugal. The Man, here; for Quixote, here or here; and for Mount Eerie, here. Images from their websites.