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Portugal.The Man: Church Mouth


I have to admit, I picked up this album solely because of the cover art (created by frontman John Gourley). For whatever reason, it reminded me of Cream. And while there are at least a jillion other bands Portugal.The Man (punctuation intentional) could be compared to, both bands have (or in Cream's case, had) badass rhythm sections and a thunderous bluesy rock sound. But PTM's sound isn't that easily summarized, at least not on Church Mouth.

Alaskan-born and bred John Baldwin Gourley (lead vocals, guitars, synthesizers, programming) has been blessed with a high pitched voice a la Jack White. But hey, it is what it is, and it works. Especially when the vocal lines are in unison with bluesy guitar licks as shown on "The Bottom." A rock-steady dance beat gives way to a titanic blues explosion which oddly feels a bit like gospel due to some cleverly layered vocals. It's all very electric. Gourley, the guitar player, is most at home with blues-rock but probes the gamut as evidenced on "Bellies are Full." Trading slide blues for prog riffing, Gourley displays his creativity and capability as a guitarist. PTM's rhythm section of Zachary Scott Carothers and Jason Wade Sechrist is nothing to sneeze at either. Although they peak on track one, the Mars Volta-esque title track, there are plenty of moments on Church Mouth that should make any warm-blooded rock-and-roll lover salivate at the thought of a live performance.

Produced by Casey Bates (Heavy Heavy Low Low, Gatsby's American Dream, The Number Twelve Looks Like You), Church Mouth is quite dynamic. Just compare the dreamy "My Mind" to the full-on "Sugar Cinnamon" and you'll feel the breadth of this album. Full of engaging sonics and nimble arrangements, Church Mouth is just as much a testament to Bates' skill.

With a larger than life band name (due in part to some inexplicable punctuation) and a glorious second album, PTM revels in the music they've come all the way from Alaska to spread.