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CD of The Week

Week of 6/26/17

    Portugal. The Man - Woodstock (Atlantic)

    Portugal. The Man broke through to the mainstream six years ago with their major label debut In the Mountain in The Cloud, but the Alaskan band, fronted by the falsetto vocals of  John Gourely, already had five albums under its belt. For the follow-up to 2013's Evil Friends, the band wrote, recorded and scrapped an entire record recorded mostly with Beastie Boy Mike D, starting over with the songs that became their newest record Woodstock. The majority of the album was done with John Hill (Santigold, Phantogram), who also produced In the Mountain…

    The sociopolitical protest sprit of the legendary Woodstock festival inspired the overall themes of the new album. Right off the bat we have "Number One" sampling the late singer-songwriter Richie Havens, who opened Woodstock back in 1969. "Feel It Still," the biggest hit of the band's career so far, ties directly into this idea. The hooky, saxophone-filled song paints a portrait of a former hippie who's settled down and is semi-retired from fighting the good fight (and is therefore "a rebel just for kicks now") but hasn't given up hope and realizes there's still work to be done out there.

    Political revolution is also top of mind on "Noise Pollution," the first song we heard from Woodstock. The band shouts out the "Je suis Charlie" slogan adopted in support of the attack on French publication Charlie Hebdo two years ago. This is apparently the only song to make the cut from the sessions with Mike D. and also features backing vocals from actress Mary Elizabeth Winsted.

    While Portugal. The Man may be attempting to emulate the protest movement of that era, sonically they are incredibly modern. Big keyboards and big production define the sound of this band on songs like "Easy Tiger," Keep On" and "Rich Friends," placing them alongside slick alt-pop peers like JR JR and Foster the People.

    On Woodstock, Portugal. The Man take aim at our troubled times while giving music fans a groove to dance to. A worthy sonic goal that need not be rooted in any decade.

    **Donate $15 or more to Y-Not Radio this week to receive a download of Woodstock. Click here for details.

    Review by Joey O.

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