Matt Crowley/The AS Review
This quarter’s major ASP Pop Music concert brings a blockbuster lineup that is sure to have something for everyone, as Alaskans Portugal. The Man, folkster Kimya Dawson and Seattleites The Courage (formerly Noah Gundersen and The Courage), descend on the Performing Arts Center main stage on Friday, Feb. 4. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. and tickets costs $10 with a Western ID and $12 for general admission.
Portugal. The Man
Hailing from Wasilla, Alaska, Portugal. The Man could be one of the most accessible “experimental” rock groups around, bringing a mainstream sound with indie credibility. The group burst onto the scene with 2006’s “Waiter: ‘You Vultures!’” followed shortly by 2007’s “Church Mouth.” Since then the band has released more than half a dozen albums and EPs, gaining an impressive following.
While to many a label like “mainstream” sound means “boring, bland and predictable,” Portugal. The Man is anything but. “Mainstream” simply refers to the band’s accessible sound. It would be hard for someone to not find something to like about their music, due to the expertly-mixed tracks that bring every instrument to its breaking point, thanks to help from producers past and present, from Casey Bates to Paul Kolderie, and vocalist John Gourley’s award-winning vocal chords.
The band has also gained attention for taking a somewhat lax stance on illegal downloading. Following the release of 2007’s “Church Mouth,” and its subsequent leak, the band wrote, “Go download it. Give yourself the tastes. Feel free.” The band did the same thing in 2008 with “Censored Colors,” and again in 2009 with “The Satanic Satanist,” but chose to take some more preventative measures in the release of their album early last year.
“Downloading is amazing and we will always support it. It gives people access to endless amounts of sounds and sights. Amazing amazing amazing,” they wrote on their blog in 2008, adding, “Though, nothing compares to actually owning a record and working for and waiting for that music. It makes you a part of the movement.”
Though she may be best known for her work on the movie “Juno,” singer-songwriter Kimya Dawson has been in the game longer than most people realize. Beginning years before the turn of the century and continuing with her work with The Moldy Peaches, her sing-song attitude and longing lyrics speak to the adolescent in all of us (which is probably why it worked so great for “Juno”) and has given a generation of fans a sonic time machine, transporting them back to days of riding bikes and wishing for summer.
Despite the genre-specific title of “anti-folk,” it’s hard to imagine anything “anti” or negative about Dawson’s music.
Decidedly simple in composition (in a good way), Dawson’s cadence and imaginative songwriting, both of which are true and unique, draw listeners’ attention. They’re simple lyrics, really; Dawson isn’t about to pull a U2 and ramble on about the plight of people the world over. Instead, Dawson comes across as genuine and relatable, a 38-year-old who hasn’t quite grown up and frankly doesn’t have any plans of doing so.
Noah Gundersen, along with sister Abby, started NG&TC in late 2005 in Centralia, Wash. The band is led by the sibling pair, along with Ivan Gunderson (no relation) and Travis Ehrentrom.
Despite their small beginnings, a tour of Washington and Oregon left the group with a burgeoning fan base. Noah Gundersen recorded his first album, “Brand New World,” and released it in 2008. Since then the band has released two albums and seen their popularity skyrocket. “Saints & Liars” and “Fearful Bones,” their most recent albums, were hailed by numerous local publications, including Seattle Weekly. The band recently shortened their name to The Courage to coincide with the release of “Fearful Bones.”
Reviews of the group have showered Gundersen with comparisons to Pedro the Lion, Damien Rice and even the late Jeff Buckley. While that may be a little much, it shouldn’t discredit the fact that like those artists, Gundersen does a superb job of conveying emotion. Gundersen isn’t afraid to bring religion into the mix as well, and much like Pedro the Lion and Jeff Buckley, he is able to use it to his advantage without alienating anyone.