Petra Haden Sings: the Who Sell Out
While juggling her mid-'90s memberships in both that dog. and the Rentals, Petra Haden released her solo debut in Imaginaryland--an ethereal, brilliantly simple collection of wordless, mostly a cappella four-track experiments showcasing Haden's innate harmonic virtuosity. Rumors of a follow up in the form of an a cappella tribute to the Who's early conceptual masterpiece have been circulating for some time now, and with nearly a decade's wait between the two records (not counting a handful of collaborative releases), …Sings: the Who Sell Out had something of an impossible standard to live up to. Replacing Imaginaryland's pale ambience with constantly demanding presence, …Sings is an admirably complex, dimensional (albeit gimmicky) undertaking--and one that I doubt I'll ever yearn to hear again. ZAC PENNINGTON
If Portland were a nation, it would probably need a national anthem. My nomination, to be played prior to Blazers games, would be Blitzen Trapper's gorgeously shambolic "Summer Twin." This psych-country summer love song, which casually rhymes "harpsichord" with "stealing things because you're bored," seems in its semi-stoned poetics to speak to an entire city-state of lonely, semi-stoned boys who listen to too much Neil Young. Like most of the band's masterful new album, Field Rexx, the song has intricate composition and instrumentation, but it is recorded with such a purposefully lo-fi aesthetic that one can hear echoes of early Elliot Smith and Slanted and Enchanted-era Steve Malkmus. It's also kinda jammy in a "we don't like Phish, but we would if we didn't know it was Phish" way. Though Field Rexx is worthy of four stars, in deference to Blitzen Trapper's knowing embrace of imperfection, I'm giving them three and a half. KIP BERMAN
Blitzen Trapper celebrates the release of Field Rexx Friday, Feb 18th at Berbati's.
Smart pop tunes with tender lyrics and warm-toned instrumentation--and damn fine tunes, at that. Wilderness is a minor pop masterpiece, featuring introspective alto lyricism by Prewitt and light arrangements of hollow-body guitars, mellotrons, harpsichords, and flutes that are grounded by exceptional drum work. While the entire album exudes jazzy toe-tapping melodies in the vein of Cat Stevens, A.C. Newman, and Lambchop, amazingly pretty songs like "O", "KY", "Way of the Sun", and "Go Away" elevate Prewitt's songwriting skills out from any genre ghetto. CHAS BOWIE