Listening Booth: Pseudosix, “Pseudosix” (2007)
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