Few modern rock bands fit the phrase "diamond in the rough" as well as Wasilla, Alaska's finest sons, Portugal. The Man, and with the late summer/early fall release of "Censored Colors," the band's third full-length CD, this should be made all the more evident.
Portugal. The Man has built an undeniable buzz on the strength of two earlier full-length CDs for the Fearless label, 2006's "Waiter: 'You Vultures!'" and 2007's "Church Mouth" (the latter of which debuted on the Billboard Top Alternative New Artists chart at lucky #13), and three EPs, "The Pines, the Devil" (2006, "Devil Say I, I Say Air" (digital EP, 2006), and "It's Complicated Being a Wizard" (2007).
Under the mainstream radar, Portugal. The Man - guitarist/singer/songwriter John Baldwin Gourley, bassist/singer Zachary Scott Carothers, drummer Jason Sechrist, and newest full-time member keyboardist/singer Ryan Neighbors - is a band that has been steadily building a devoted fan base and amassing kudos from an array of media outlets like Filter ("Portugal. The Man hasn't merely evolved from the avant-garde, neo-soul that shaped their earliest works, they've transcended it."), and AbsolutePunk ("Portugal. The Man is one of the most unique and original groups of current time.").
"Censored Colors" was recorded and mostly written in a frantic two and a half week period in Seattle with the aid of producers Phil Peterson and Kirk Huffman of The House of Breaking Glass. Paul Kolderie (Pixies, Radiohead, Throwing Muses) did additional production and mixed the album. Gourley admits the group was armed with some ideas for "Censored Colors," but not nearly as much as the average rock band.
"Throughout the year, we're constantly writing and there were little ideas here and there. I think we went into the studio with two songs that we had demoed before and part of another song we had been jamming live - that was it. We went in, and realized, we have to start doing a song a night to even get 15 songs done in two and a half weeks."
Upon digging deep into "Censored Colors," you're sure to discover songs that balance epic songwriting with naked testimonials directly from the soul. There are melodies that will delightfully come back to haunt you long after you're done listening as evidenced by such standout tracks as "Lay Me Back Down," "Colors," and "Out and In and In and Out," among other glittering gems. And while Gourley certainly specializes in esoteric-like lyrics, there are a few exceptions to the rule, as illustrated by another one of the album's highlights, the epic "1989," in which the singer touches upon the effect the Persian Gulf War had on his life. [Yes, this war started in 1990, but "1990" didn't fit musically, so Gourley changed history for the benefit of the song.]
With traditional record label offers available, the band - who has never played by music industry standards - is rethinking that route and considering more innovative ways to make "Censored Colors" available to fans Portugal. The Man is long adept at using guerilla tactics to push modern technology to its limits and encourages copious amounts of interaction with their fans - fans are given access to Pro Tools stems, raw video footage, original Illustrator artwork files, and so on.
Again, contrary to "industry think," Portugal. The Man releases new music as often as possible, they tour as often as possible, and, at least for right now, they're more interested in making a living and in developing a strong connection with their fans than they are in making money.
So, the countdown has begun until they premiere the new tunes on a concert stage, as they will be embarking on a tour with RX Bandits this summer (see below for itinerary) before headlining a European trek, and then returning for a U.S. Fall headline jaunt.
15 Rialto Theatre, Tucson, AZ
17 White Rabbit, San Antonio, TX
18 Emo's Outside, Austin, TX
19 House of Blues, Dallas, TX
20 Meridian - Red Room, Houston, TX
21 House of Blues, New Orleans, LA
22 Floyd's Music Store, Tallahassee, FL
23 State Theatre, St. Petersburg, FL
24 Culture Room, Ft Lauderdale, FL
25 The Social, Orlando, FL
26 The Masquerade, Atlanta, GA
27 The Soapbox Laundrolounge, Wilmington, NC
29 The Ottobar, Baltimore, MD
30 The Fillmore @ The TLA, Philadelphia, PA
31 School of Rock, S. Hackensack, NJ
1 Highline Ballroom, New York, NY
2 Harper's Ferry, Allston, MA
4 The Club at Water Street Music Hall, Rochester, NY
5 Grog Shop, Cleveland Heights, OH
6 Magic Stick, Detroit, MI
7 Metro, Chicago, IL
8 2 Cents Plain, St. Louis, MO
9 The Bottleneck, Lawrence, KS
10 Waiting Room, Omaha, NE
12 Marquis Theatre, Portland, OR
13 Avalon Theatre, Salt Lake City, UT
15 El Corazon, Seattle, WA
16 Hawthorne Theatre, Portland, OR
17 The Boardwalk, Orangevale, CA
18 Slim's, San Francisco, CA
22 The Glass House, Pomona, CA
23 Jillian's, Las Vegas, NV
27 The Troubadour, Los Angeles, CA
28 The Troubadour, Los Angeles, CA
30 SOMA, San Diego, CA
31 The Clubhouse, Tempe, AZ
1 The Clubhouse, Tempe, AZ