Alibi V.17 No.41 • Oct 9-15, 2008 

Sonic Reducer

Portugal. The Man Censored Colors (Equal Vision)

It’s important to remember that not all Alaskans are Sarah Palin. Some, like the members of Portugal. The Man, are more interested in crafting lush, Technicolor melodies than a bridge to nowhere. Teleporting from sharp-edged prog-rock to folksy sing-alongs and peculiar, electro examinations, Censored Colors is unfiltered; it splatters on the canvas and drips to the ground. Lead singer John Gourley is trailed by a cluster of falsetto backup vocals that answers his every call. At its kitschiest, the album borders on faux-rock opera, but somehow it works. There’s an unchained spirit inside Portugal. The Man that runs on adrenaline and only comes out at night. (SM)

TV on the Radio Dear Science (DGC/Interscope)

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It's shitty to count polish as a black mark against an album. But there it is: A rawer, more haphazard and urgent TVOR kicks it out better than this funk-laced, tasteful thing without fingerprints or dust. Still, the horn arrangements are, as ever, glistening. Singers Tunde Adebimpe (who's channeling David Bowie more than ever) and Kyp Malone expertly ride the slick, texture-focused arrangements. Even with the material coming off overworked and too refined at times, smudge your greasy digits all over this thing. (MD)

Joel Harrison The Wheel (Innova Records)

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Guitarist Joel Harrison, whose musical curiosity and emotional depth have long demanded attention, claims an indisputable place among serious American composers with The Wheel. Drawing on inspirations as diverse as Appalachia and West Africa, Messiaen and modern jazz, Harrison offers an intelligent, moving and fascinating American suite (along with an eloquent elegy for his late friend Dana Brayton) composed for combined string quartet, jazz quartet and guitar. While many attempts to wed classical and jazz components have sounded like pointless musical chimeras, Harrison has magically integrated the parts in a way that enlarges and deepens them all—along with your heart. (MM)

(SM) Simon McCormack, (MD) Marisa Demarco, (MM) Mel Minter