Music Highlight: Portugal. The Man


Portugal. The Man

A 2013 Throwback Highlight

Imagine an Alaska without Sarah Palin, and you’ll see many other nice things, particularly the beautiful landscape, giant king salmon, igloos and the unapologetic style created by the boys of Portugal. The Man. By synthesizing the cooled-off steel drumming sounds of the Beach Boys, heavy guitar licks a la Jane’s Addiction and lyrical poetics akin to Bon Iver, Portugal. The Man is hard to pigeonhole, whether it be through style, delivery or work ethic. Having already released six albums since their 2006 debut (along with a 13-minute short film that uses the songs “Sleep Forever” and “Got It All” as narration to a haunting tale set in the Alaskan tundra) PTM has a flair for grandeur. 

While present-day pop might have laid waste to eardrums everywhere, Portugal. The Man — though swept up by big business Atlantic Records — has maintained its offbeat, unique sound while still being accessible to mainstream listeners.

Co-founded by John Gourley (vocalist/songwriter) and Zach Carothers (bass player/vocalist), Portugal. The Man soon moved out of the wilderness and into the hipster’s homeland of Portland, Oregon, gaining members Kyle O’Quin, Noah Gersh and, eventually, Kane Ritchotte.

Their latest album, “Evil Friends” (out June 4), certainly maintains the band’s knack for spectacle. After news that producer Brian “Danger Mouse” Burton (heralded for his work with Gnarls Barkley, The Black Keys and Cee Lo Green) was interested in collaborating, Portugal. The Man scrapped over 10 songs and two weeks of recording time to work with him. The result retains PTM’s varied sounds and loner lyrical themes (i.e. “Creep in a T-Shirt”) while incorporating radio-friendly (and blunt-friendly) hip-hop and hook-heavy elements (“Hip-Hop Kids” and “Purple Yellow Red and Blue,” respectively), making PTM a band that can appeal to fans across genres.

That’s the rub, really. Whatever style Portugal. The Man aims to infuse — be it pop, electronic, hip-hop or blues — their strange delivery stays prevalent in their work. It’s why they’ve gained such a loyal clan of followers, from their northeastern stomping grounds to Europe to our own sunny California. At a Sun God that will be writhing with drunken, sweaty tomfoolery, what better way to close the evening off than with a heavy dose of that cool Alaskan breeze reverberating through the air?

— Jacey Aldredge

(This article originally ran in UCSD's The Guardian Newspaper on May 16th, 2013)

UPDATE: Check out their newest 2017 hit, "Feel it Still" from their album Woodstock