It's a great week for Portland music. With more than a half dozen local releases seeing the light of day this week alone, it's a bit of a challenge to keep up, so that's where we come in. While you bask in the mighty rays of Portland sunshine, we're squirreled away in the darkness, reviewing local releases for your reading pleasure. Eh, who needs vitamin D anyway?
Tea for Julie
The Sense in Tying Knots
Consider Tea for Julie the Coldplay of the Portland music scene. That said, depending on where you fall on the Chris Martin scale, this is either a grand compliment or some sort of horrible insult. But much like Coldplay, who teeter that fine line between pop-fluff and legitimate rock saviors, Tea for Julie do the same, albeit as a more quaint and localized version.
The Sense in Tying Knots is overflowing with pop hooks so grand that they've piqued the ear of many a radio station program director—again, this is either a positive or negative thing, depending on where your opinion of local radio stands—and with good reason, since in its best moments this is a glorious journey through every stage of Brit-pop, as seen through the eyes of a quartet of American boys. It's not quite authentic, but the heartfelt, if not a wee bit maudlin, delivery of Michael Deresh accentuates the album's finest track—"And Winter Calls," and its Portland-centric lyrics of "When summer came it left too soon,"—with a stylish sincerity that is hard to ignore.
Tea for Julie celebrate the release of The Sense in Tying Knots at Doug Fir on Wednesday, June 25.
Spin Out of This
If you think recording an album within the walls of a haunted Masonic temple sans the use of electricity (only generators and candlelight) seems like a gimmick, well, yeah, it probably is. But at least on paper there is no better setting for local chamber rockers Buoy LaRue, a band whose smoky cabaret sound begs to be set to tape by the flicker of a flaming candle.
Spin Out of This is awash with organic instrumentation, none-too-subtle goth undertones, and the impassioned vocals of Michael Herrman. Never one to skimp on dramatic flair, Herrman holds onto each note with a restrained croon. It works on the title track and the gypsy haunt of "Wine and Food," but other songs feel a bit too unfocused to really take hold as intended. The album suffers the most by the hand of its far too slick production—haunted temple and all—which could use less polish and more grit. Live by the gimmick, die by the gimmick.
Buoy LaRue celebrate the release of Spin Out of This at the Mission Theater on Saturday, June 21.