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|Portugal. The Ranking|
It's too hard to make this list, but with 8 albums of content, it has to be done. With their sound aside, Portugal. The Man is one of my favorite bands purely for their work ethic, and the ample progression they've made from where they started after the demise of Rise Records' Anatomy of a Ghost. I tried here. It's really hard to choose between these songs.
[sidenotes: 'Sleep Forever' - official #1 runner-up; ITMITC underrated as a complete package; 'Modern Jesus' is rather stellar; 'Pusher's Party' live plz?]
|12||Portugal. The Man|
This underrated gem from 'American Ghetto' finds the boys reminiscing on growing up, and the dreams associated with it. It ebbs, flows, and jams as all P.TM tracks should, albeit more hazy and drawn out. All in all, '60 Years' represents a road decidedly not taken. Very much the Wu-Tang/Beatles mashup that Gourley imagined his band would eventually be.
This 'Waiter' cut sums up the album fairly well - interesting guitar tapping, and well-executed prog dynamics, arranged to a tee. 'Tommy' tells a story better than most of the recent P.TM outings, and once again conjures up imagery of growing up in Alaska. This one has the proper amount of darkness to contrast from the rest of the album.
'Censored Colors,' upon listening to it, sounds like a band finding their true identity, and the twist is that they didn't find it through the louder, progressive cuts; Portugal. found it through the loud/soft dynamic, and the focus was on the slower moving pieces. 'Colors' goes places that Portugal. never touched on 'Waiter' and 'Church Mouth'. The music speaks to this.
Pleasant melodies, audible bass, soaring vocals from John Gourley - it's ALL here, in the right doses. This song blew up considerably more than its 'Satanic Satanist' counterparts, and it's for a reason; 'The Sun' proved that Portugal. could make a hit without shredding or jamming. The beauty is in the arrangement, the message, and the execution. Gourley's falsetto slides into a comfortable place here.
|8||AKA M80 the Wolf|
One of the oldest songs in the Portugal discography is "AKA M80." At its root, it's a simple song, with a serious post-hardcore vibe (remember that Portugal toured with Fall of Troy and Tera Melos during this time period). For a Fearless Records band, Portugal had some serious chops, and while Gourley claimed to only be "learning guitar" during the recording of this album, he pulls off some of these riffs with serious flair. You'd be hard pressed to expect this as a Portugal show any time soon, but it will make its comeback to the set when the time is right. In short - one of their best, and *possibly* the song that proved to them that there was indeed life in music after Anatomy of a Ghost.
One of "Satanic Satanist's" most underrated jams, mostly because of its flexibility in a live setting. Gourley has no problem throwing this one in-between songs, even on the band's most recent tour. "The Home" builds wonderfully to a soaring chorus, and memorable solo section, where the band pushes the limits and heaviness of their sound. "I will make my home here," Gourley howls. The song's placement on the album is tremendous, and leads right into the equally underrated, "The Woods."
'Censored Colors' ends with a tale of reflection - '1989' is bittersweet, and reminds us of when we grew up. Not the process of growing up, but rather the MOMENT when it was real. Flashes of nostalgia ring all over this song; in its simple form, it manages to capture the feeling of the whole album. The themes of transition and change are very apparent on 'Censored Colors,' but especially on '1989'. "We were always lost" never sounded so comforting when you realize everyone else was just as lost as you the entire time.
|5||Purple Yellow Red and Blue|
Perhaps P.TM's finest hour? "PYRB" is one of the catchier and cohesive tracks the band has laid on us to date! The Danger Mouse influence is extremely prevalent (not only on this song, but all over 'Evil Friends') but nobody said that was a bad thing. This song was built to groove, and take you to that proverbial 'happy place' where we can all "live in ecstacy." Gourley's vocals are pretty as ever, and the live renditions of this number, which places it after a familiar Pink Floyd cover, are to die for. If you've learned nothing from this, learn this - you NEED to see this band live.
If 'Censored Colors' became a fan favorite, when and why did that happen? Well, for starters, the album has every sound the band could offer up to that point (and a solid 50-50 balance of acoustic/electric interplay). I've talked to people who claim the album to be P.TM's creative peak, and while I whole-heartedly disagree, it can be argued that 'Censored Colors' WAS their biggest step, creatively, miles ahead of Church Mouth (which had highs and lows). 'Censored Colors' peaks with "New Orleans," halfway through. The song begins hollow, seemingly dull, but full of soul. By the time the song has kicked into the full gear, the listener is lost in the crunchy echo of Gourley's guitar, Ryan Neighbors' swirling keys, or Zach Carothers' sinister bass-line. You can really only pick one to get lost in; digesting all the chaos at once is challenging. In a 'Mars Volta-like' trance, Portugal finds themselves fully realized here... [live versions are f#%king sizzling, by the way]
|3||When the War Ends|
We might never know the answer to some questions, and "When the War Ends" fully captures that feeling in musical form. This is one of the more stripped down, 'fun' tracks the band has concocted, and within that is a very big question - "what was it all about?" Or rather, "When the war ends, what was it all about?" I can safely say that this is song deserves more recognition for it's message, alone - "When the War Ends" isn't a study of when the *war* actually ended, but instead about the ripple effects, and the impact it struck you with. It never really ended, man. [food for thought]
|2||All Your Light (Times Like These)|
"All Your Light" is the point in the story where you realize that it wasn't a dream, and that tough times are indeed real. There's no running or hiding from the truth, but even though that's the case, you approach it head-on. Hovering closer to the Floyd influences than ever, "All Your Light" is a quintessential Portugal cut, and in my opinion, their immortal track (up to this point). Incredible live performances of this one are to be expected, complete with a sandwiched Ghostface Killah "A Kilo" cover. #swag
This is the anthem. Invigorating, upbeat, and positive, 'People Say' contains Portugal's best songwriting and messages in the shape of a shorter-form pop song. The difference between "People Say" and the 'Waiter/Church Mouth/CC' days is an opinion that lies in the eye of the beholder. "Satanic Satanist" is where Portugal truly transformed into the force that they are today, and channeled their influences into a grand concept, complete with a wonderful, acoustic rendition of the entire album. The Man is here to stay.
|1 is 1 good job|
|Can't get into these guys. Saw em live and every song sounded exactly the same |
mind you, i saw them for free, and "Modern Jesus" made up for the boring assortment of tracks they played for an hour beforehand.