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July 22nd, 2009 WW MUSIC STAFF | Music Stories
 

CD Reviews: Satan’s Pilgrims and Trevor Giuliani

     
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Satan’s Pilgrims Psychsploitation


(Self Released)

[SURFADELIC] One would expect a 10-year hiatus to take a band off its game a little. But Satan’s Pilgrims—renowned surf-rockers from Portland’s past whose last album appeared on shelves in 1999—are picking up right where they left off. In fact, like many of the groups that inspired the Pilgrims, the quartet has taken its most logical next step: It’s gone psychedelic.

The band had dabbled in psychedelia before its hiatus. Creature Feature, released in 1998 and ostensibly a riff on monster-movie soundtracks, featured some bad-trip hippie shakes; the B-sides on 2004’s Best Of collection had a couple of jammy jams that never quite fit on an SP full-length. But Satan’s Pilgrims have never devoted an entire release to anything quite this druggy. Moments of Psychsploitation—the electric sitar plucks of “Rainy Day Green Stop Sign” and the ghostly voices on “Tracers (Of Love)”—sound like original instrumentals by groups like the Turtles and the Mamas and the Papas. “Psychle Pswami” is brash enough to be a late-era Monks tune.

But part of the Pilgrims’ appeal has always lay in their accessibility: Instrumental surf-rock is a family affair, and Psychsploitation is no exception. An entire generation of hip Portland parents should be happy to have these extra-groovy Pilgrims back in action. CASEY JARMAN.

Trevor Giuliani Subcontrario (In Stereo)


(Dovecote)

[NEW SLANG] It’s clear from listening to Trevor Giuliani’s Subcontrario (In Stereo) that the singer-songwriter is in a place of flux. Giuliani moved from New York City to Portland last year, and on the record’s penultimate song, “Janessa,” that move is on his mind. “Why do we live here in New York?/ And not in Ory-Gone,” he sings, his voice floating over a bed of ethereal acoustic guitar that wouldn’t be out of place on a Coldplay album. “But no, that’s not how they pronounce it out there/ But also you sometimes are wrong, babe.”

Giuliani’s lush pop, which at times recalls Swedish crooner Jens Lekman, various trad Britpop acts, and (hang with me here) Duncan Sheik, resembles very little else in P-town. In a music community known for its indie rock, Trevor Giuliani might find it alarming that almost no one is making pop as meticulously as he is.

Every facet of Giuliani’s songs—from the Beatles-esque strings that color the relationship quandary “Settled Bounds” to the picked guitar and glockenspiel-laced “Van Singing”—is well thought out. Giuliani builds his recordings like a carpenter, carefully layering both acoustic and electric instruments to create moments that, even if a little saccharine at times, stick with you the next day. Subcontrario could use a rocker or two to shake the mid-tempo pacing, but as a lovingly detailed pop record about moving to a new city, it makes a pretty big splash. MICHAEL MANNHEIMER.


SEE IT: Satan’s Pilgrims play Saturday, July 25, at Doug Fir with the Ghastly Ones. 10 pm. $10. 21+. Trevor Giuliani plays Berbati’s Pan Tuesday, July 28, with Parachute. 8:30 pm. $10. 21+.
 
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