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Soul/pop rock show at Picador

BY RYAN FOSMARK | OCTOBER 07, 2009 7:20 AM

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mp3 sample: Portugal. The Man

"People Say"

Waiter: You Vultures showed the world a new sound.

Portugal. The Man’s 2006 full-length début album was the first to capture the soul-inspired tunes that have beccome synonomous with the band. No matter how widely its content varies from record to record, the group’s music is unmistakable. From the experimental loops and beats in Waiter: You Vultures to the hard-hitting psychedelia of 2007’s Church Mouth, Portugal’s soul always shines through.

Portugal. The Man will play with Drug Rug at the Picador, 330 E. Washington St., at 9 p.m. today. Admission is $10.

Kevin Koppes, the booking agent at the Picador, noted the versatility of the band.

“It should be a real attention-grabbing show,” he said. “They really kind of cover every range of sound between the organs and the guitars and the vocals.”

Vocalist/guitarist John Gourley said he drained himself with the band’s latest album, The Satanic Satanist. Emotionally, it was the most he had ever put into an album, evident by the love-ridden and escapist themes that surge through the band’s most concise version of that distinctive sound to date.

“The whole record was about family — it’s not a romantic love,” he said. “The only true love that I can really say is truly there … is family love and love for your community and love for the people around you. When it becomes singular it’s really hard to make those separations and that definition.”

While he says that the album is a positive embrace of the family, there are several moments in The Satanic Satanist that evoke a dark depressive state.

The music of the band lends itself to loud, punchy live shows laced with a number of sounds, including experimental, guitar rock, and heartfelt songwriting. Gourley said the variation depends on what the band is into at any given moment. This time around, the members knew exactly what they wanted.

“The whole thought was just Motown — it was ‘Ain’t No Sunshine,’ ” Gourley said.

In what has been described as the band’s soul/pop album, The Satanic Satanist shows the group departing from the long-winded song structures of its past.

“Had we not made Censored Colors, I would have thought, ‘Oh yeah, let’s just write some really tight structured songs,’ ” Gourley said. “It’s really difficult to pick and choose what are the best parts of the song and what deserves to be there.”

Nevertheless, the band released The Satanic Satanist this summer. A workaholic musical force, Portugal. The Man is on tour now with another potential recorded album in the mixing process. In true Portugal tradition, Gourley said that the new music will be of a different breed from The Satanic Satanist.

“I feel like, mentally, I just work that way,” he said. “You know, if I made a rock record today, tomorrow I’d want to make an electronic album or a pop album or whatever. I feel like it’s so much more fun for me, and it keeps me healthy and trained to just do whatever works.”


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