In a well calculated\maddening 4 year break from a new album, Portugal. The Man has been distant from dormant. Stemming from a combination of a father-son chat involving memories and a ticket stub from Woodstock, the Lords of Portland made moves to create their 8th studio album of the same name.
Several friendly faces joined in on the production effort; the rumors of Beastie Boys' own Mike D were indeed true, in addition to the return of Danger Mouse, the prolific John Hill, and a pleasant surprise in Electric Guest's Asa Taccone to name a few. It may also be the first album with dedicated featured guests, with Elizabeth Winstead (yes, from the movie Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, swoon), ex-Pharcyde MC Fatlip, Blues baron Son Little, and even a few snippets from Richie Haven's 3 hour 1969 Woodstock performance to scream a battle cry of freedom in our introduction.
Reviving notions and feelings from the festival it was named after, Woodstock takes a staunch tone in politics and clash between the classes in America we're feeling in real time. The music industry has been fairly dry by early an 2000's comparison of political toned music. Coupled with this, coming of age tales in life and love. After studying the album over the odd month since release, I've found favorites among the metaphors and effortlessly amalgamated instrumentals.
The aptly named first track, Number One borrows from Richie Haven's iconic performance of Freedom during his aforementioned 3 hour Woodstock performance, giving way to words of despair and hopelessness in a cry for freedom. This freedom takes several forms depending on where you stand in your personal or public politicking. I agree with PTM and Richie both, the precipice we currently stand on in our nation contains inklings (or boatloads) of hopelessness.
I've been enjoying the specific call-outs on the last two PTM records (Evil Friends on Evil Friends for example), and we see it this time in the form of track five, Rich Friends. As someone who's stood patiently in line for my earned but ungiven turn, its easy to sing toward the wearers of the boot around my proverbial neck. The perspective lyrically seems to breed ideas of a modern day Robin Hood; knowing that your power will go unwarded and helping those at the bottom of the hole with you. Whether worldly (our Capetown lyrics) or domestic, many will find something to relate to here.
Feel It Still is the low key, preparation mood, spy thriller theme song you didn't know you needed in your life. An anthem of the antihero, it can be easy to attribute the time periods sung in the song to gripping years in american history. To me, the creation of the Black Panther Party in 1966 stands as the defining movement in Civil Rights of the time. While the black berets of the time may have been put away, the dark whispers of the past still sound today. We put our tattered fighting gloves up on the shelf when in peacetime, keeping our family at the forefront of the mind.
Woodstock provoked thoughts I had hope to revisit again on this PTM creation, along with continuing a unique side of music hailing from the fridgid northwestern coasts of the USA. What's more, in a time when clear and present allies to minorities are few and far between, the Lords of Portland again assure us that the movement for peace is moving at a wolf's pace.
To my friends in Portugal. The Man, I again thank you for sharing your thoughts and art.
Until next time my friends,