Three in one(1)

Discs to get you through the late summer
By SAM PFEIFLE  |  August 5, 2008

As this most prolific summer of local album releases stretches into August, it’s getting hard to keep up. With new discs from Cindy Bullens, Darien Brahms, and Dominic and the Lucid on the near horizon, we have to cram ’em in. So here are three discs being released over the next two weeks, getting slightly shorter reviews than they deserve.

Over two fun and up-beat pop-punk records from Local Nothing, drummer Adam Tranchemontagne, frontman Pete Vachon, and bassist Adam Croteau proved themselves more than capable of getting heads bobbing and having lots of fun, but they’ve gotten a level more interesting with the addition of vocalist and guitarist Jeff Roberts to their new band, Pinsky. Their debut EP, Two for the Road, shows significantly more texture and nuance than Local Nothing’s work.

“Beverly” might masquerade as a fun-and-games summer radio hit, but there’s a touch of disturbed obsession there, too. Fun: “I don’t want to play games/I just want to play doctor.” Disturbed: “I’ll hide you on the East Coast/Maybe Portland, Maine/Maybe Beverly, Mass.” (I mean, who would ever want to go to Beverly?) Later, they clip a great line from the art flick Chumscrubber: “It’s not that I don’t like talking. No. It’s just that I don’t like talking to you.” I wouldn’t mind looking through their DVD collection.

Vachon and Roberts trade off vocal duties nicely, alternatingly straining the vocal chords on emo-style screamers and providing good-guy background support. “Sailor Song” is a great little ballad, full of piano and strings and an aggressive acoustic guitar strummed with a vengeance. With its “I’ll be there for you” sentiment, it’s too bad The OC isn’t around anymore, but maybe the new 90210 is still looking for soundtrack material.

The final track on Pinsky’s six-song, 20-minute effort, “What We’re Doing,” is the most interesting cut. It opens with inane party talk you think will go away, but doesn’t, for a solid minute and a half, while we’re buffeted by an electric guitar and lyrics like, “You and I are gonna be/Alone again/So let’s try to think/Of something new.”

Then, just when you thought it was a kind of bad live recording from a bar where people don’t care about the music much, the song opens way up with huge guitars and tantalizing piano.

“I don’t want,” we’re told in repetition, “the same old response.”

No, people should respond even more to this.

Now that they’ve established themselves as the premier crew in Portland, Labseven, like any good hip-hop collective, have solo projects to focus on. First up is Mello the Verbal Wonder, an MC fond of old soul and R&B and smooth as a great shave — a mix of Al Green and the Pharcyde, who drops Open Doors next weekend with a big show at the Big Easy.

Produced by Autonomous, this CD’s an extension of the 2006 band effort North Winds, with focus tightened to feature Mello’s particular strengths: Courvoisier-slurred sung verses you can wrap around you and quick, low-riding efforts like the falling green letters of the Matrix. “I’ll Be” is the former, a love song, Mello promising, “I’ll be for you what you wanted/What you never even knew.” The tune also features the kind of weird, jarring transition that populated North Winds, here even seeming like it’s mastered at a different level in the song’s last minute.

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