August 2, 2007

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Portugal the Man, Church Mouth
Fearless Records, 2007
On face, PTM are like a lousy customer at a hotel, demanding that people get the name right (it’s “Portugal. The Man,” and don’t leave out the period because it’s significant ‘n’ stuff). Once you’re done roundfiling that suggestion faster than a Tomahawk missile, however, you won’t be able to help but like this Wolfmother in Wilco’s clothing. Okay maybe not on the title track, which is sort of like Flaming Lips trying to be Kaiser Chiefs, with all the painful lack of tastiness you’re picturing. Oh, and not “Sugar Cinnamon” and its Wolfmother-level forgettability either. Here, man, you want this one, “Telling Tellers Tell Me,” a dino-rock rake-fight between White Stripes and Kiss’ “All Hell’s Breakin Loose,” wherein one of the vocal tracks is vocodered to make singer John Baldwin Gourley sound like Kenny from South Park. “Bellies Are Full” yoinks its ’70s-ness from Argent, its stomp from Physical Graffiti; there’s screamy Robert Plant lurking around every corner, bordering on eat-your-Wheaties ’80s-metal shrieking that nicks Slaughter at times, if you can believe it. The very minute these Alaskans settle down and write just a hair more coherently they’ll be on par with Queens of the Stone Age, not that they aren’t pretty fricking close as it is. Their U.S. tour hits the Middle East in Cambridge, Mass., on Aug. 12. B+Eric W. Saeger