WE AMERICANS ARE SUCKERS for the underdog. From Rocky to Elliott Smith's doomed Academy Award nomination, to the Bad News fucking Bears, we like our heroes to be hungry and dirty and come from the gutters, fighting and sweating every step of the way. I'm no different, and whilst digging through this month's stack of CD promos, I ignored all the glossy press kits and high-concept packaging and grabbed the shittiest thing I could find. It was a cassette tape—track listings handwritten in green Sharpie, not a real album, just a collection of demos.

Now, I don't know what angel sent me the fucker, but it ruled the second I stuck it in my car's tape deck.

Please Step Out of the Vehicle is a big team of Portland kids playing things like flute, glockenspiel, farfisa, and all the standard guitar/bass/drums action. As shown on my tape, and on their myspace page, their music is loose and junky and celebratory. It has the lazy, crowded, behind-the-beat stoned shuffle of Pavement, some of Beck's (long-abandoned) junkyard folk, but mostly plays its own game.

Tracks like "Civilian Casualties" and "Easy 2 Go," off their as-yet-unreleased LP, feel warm and vibrant and... happy. Which is a terribly vague word to describe music, but that's what struck me first. It's upbeat and organic sounding—a great listen when it's damn cold outside and going out for a drink means gloves, hat, two sweaters, and frozen fucking feet.

I have yet to see these guys live, but the recordings give a pretty good indicator of what they'll be like. So, if you're down with the happy, the loose, and the celebratory, go to this show. Or call me, and we'll drive around a while and listen to their tape.