Blue Giant - Blue Giant
Record Label: Vanguard Records
Release Date: July 13, 2010
There's something distinctively authentic, timeless and resonant about the self-titled debut disc from the Portland band Blue Giant. Comprised of Viva Voce's Kevin and Anita Robinson, The Decemberists' Chris Funk, Seth Loricinzi of The Golden Bears and Evan Railton of Swords, the band is in essence a supergroup, and to that point they have released an equally super album. Culling together an amalgam of influences, this auspicious full-length debut mines the terrain of bluegrass, country and folk, while still employing straight-forward earthy rock textures.
Album opener "Clean the Clock," features jangling acoustic guitar, a saturnine steel guitar, vocal harmonies and a moody organ. Equal parts psychedelic, rustic and harmonic, it's a rowdy, if not winsome way to open an album. Bolstered by a rising banjo, "Blue Sushine," is a slap-happy, feel good chesnut anchored by a melancholic slide guitar and an undeniable urge to start shaking the hips. As the disc moves to it's middle half "Lonely Girl," allows Anita to take center stage and thanks in part to a vibrant 12 string, this twangy, corn-fed beauty has all the trappings of a Merle Haggard lament.
On the heels of that is "Target Heart," which draws once again on vintage country harmonies, steel guitar and a chorus that's as hook-heavy and magnetic as any released this year. The disc reaches its apex though on the shimmering "Gone for Good," is a gorgeous and delicate duet between Corin Tucker of Sleater-Kinney and Kevin Robinson. If all minor-key love songs sounded this transcendent, roots music would be far more well-known by mainstream music lovers. And then, almost surprisingly, the disc ends with two of the disc's better compositions, most notably penultimate cut "The Void Above the Sky," and the aching closer "Reasons to Cry."
Chasing down vintage country and old-school roots-rock is not a novel concept, but what quintet manages to do on this scintillating full-length is certainly worth recommending to friends (and enemies). Though there is a good chunk of filler ("Wesley," "Target Heart," "Go On," "The Game,") the memorable songs mark this disc as something worth purchasing and something worth coming back to.