Listening Booth: Pseudosix, “Pseudosix” (2007)


Pseudosix – Pseudosix (2007)
purchase this album (Sonic Boom)

Review by Matt Keeley
Pseudosix is a band out of Portland — apparently, they started as a one-piece, but grew into a sextet. Tim Perry’s the main creative force in the band, and the other members are mostly from other bands, like The Joggers, Dolorean, The Standard, Iretsu and Crooked Fingers. That’s a pretty impressive pedigree.

When you put the album in, the first thing that you notice is the studio experimentation; Tim Perry (and producer Jay Pellicci of 31 Knots) are very interested in the idea of the studio as an instrument, which is a-OK with me, because I eat that stuff up.

The press release uses the Decemberists as a touchstone — and I can hear that in there, though where the Decemberists often have a somewhat sparse feel to their recordings, Pseudosix is much more lush — not to mention 1960s-’70s inspired. If you’re in the mood for a Portland-Based Band Combination, it’s sort of like a collaboration between the Decemberists and the Village Green. If you permit me to move north a bit — there’s a bit of the Posies in here, too.

The experimentation and feel of the way the songs sound would lead to to expect nothing but 7-10 minute long workouts — and yet Pseudosix are very much in the standard pop idiom, and the longest song doesn’t even hit the five-minute mark. Perry has a very strong hold on how to write great pop songs, and this is on display on this record. This self-titled disc is actually Pseudosix’s second record, the first was Days Of Delay, from when the band was a trio. (Perhaps by their third album they will be a ten-piece?)

“Enclave” (download) reminds me a bit of “Los Angeles” by Frank Black — though that could just be due to the first line of the chorus being “I wanna live in [Title of Song].” Either way, though, that’s a pretty good thing to be reminded of. It’s hard to do better than Frank Black in touchstones — particularly for music that doesn’t really sound much like his.

“Treacherous Ways” (download) is another great song — the harmonies are outstanding, and the hook just worms its way into your head. The ringing guitars and subtle backing vocals merge perfectly. If this were a perfect world, this would get quite a bit of airplay on AAA stations — I hope they’re servicing the album to those kind of radio stations.

The Seattle-based Sonic Boom Recordings has another winner on their hands. They’ve been releasing great albums for some time — most recently IQU’s brilliant Sun Q and Heather Duby’s excellent self-titled album. Pseudosix fits perfectly on their roster, even though those two records are much more electronic than this one.

I suppose in the interest of fairness, I should mention some of the bad things about the album — but, well, I honestly can’t. The worst thing I can mention is that the album doesn’t come with any liner notes or a booklet or anything outside of a straightforward digipak. That’s just one of my pet peeves — I’m kind of a packaging junkie — though the cover art IS pretty cool. So, there you go. If you were to buy this off iTunes once it comes out, you wouldn’t miss much, though I think that folks get a bigger cut if you buy the actual physical CD. I don’t know for sure. The main thing is to buy it. It definitely deserves to be heard, and both Pseudosix and Sonic Boom deserve the success. —MK

Jeff Giles
Jeff Giles is the founder and editor-in-chief of Popdose and Dadnabbit, as well as an entertainment writer whose work can be seen at Rotten Tomatoes and a number of other sites. Hey, why not follow him at Twitter while you're at it?