[PRODUCER POP] Talkdemonic. Blind Pilot. Horse Feathers. World’s Greatest Ghosts. If you peruse the liner notes of many of the best indie rock and folk albums released in Portland over the past five years, you’ll notice one common name scrawled in every booklet: producer Skyler Norwood. The 30-year-old musician spends most of his days holed up at Miracle Lake Studios in the basement of his father’s three-story home in Camas, working on music for other people. Finding the time to complete his own album wasn’t so easy.
“After a long day, the last thing I want to do is mess with my own stuff—I want to go home and listen to Otis Redding or Duke Ellington or Wu-Tang,” Norwood says. “It’s a delicate balance to give the songs that I do the same amount of love that I do to my other projects and the bands I produce.”
The lanky and fidgety Norwood has long thrived as a supporting actor, both for dream-pop quartet Point Juncture, WA, and the bands he produces, but Team Evil’s Mad Reciprocity shows that he can also write a killer two-minute pop song. The group—currently Norwood with friends Victor Nash, Courtney Sheedy, Jordan McCann and Ian Krist—has played together for at least five years, though Mad Reciprocity is technically its first official full-length. Dense and layered, the band’s sound is a culmination of all the music he loves and a strict set of principles (no distortion, no long songs, lots of trumpet and vibraphone) that made finishing the long-delayed record a breeze. “It all happened really fast and organically,” Norwood says of the recording sessions. “Some of the songs happen so fast that you want to rewind, but that’s all intentional—I want people to go, ‘Wait, what’s that?’ and play it again.”
Musically, Team Evil’s mellow rock doesn’t fall too far from the Point Juncture family tree, finding a neat middle ground between post-rock Chicago (the Sea and Cake) and the Northwest guitar rock (Sunny Day Real Estate) that Norwood and guitarist McCann loved growing up as teenagers in suburban Florida. Norwood has even picked up a few tricks from the artists he’s worked with: “Capricorn” with a looped pump organ and shaker, sounds like vintage Talkdemonic, and the 54-second “Perfect Shading” is his attempt at writing a Guided by Voices song. Mad Reciprocity even has a loose concept documenting Norwood’s 20s, like The Village Green Preservation Society set as a soundtrack to Portlandia.
“Musicians are cranky and hard to deal with,” Norwood cracks with a straight face. “I love playing with Team Evil because it’s nice to get away from that and just jam with your friends.”
SEE IT: Team Evil plays Saturday, Jan. 22, at Doug Fir with On the Stairs, Ivan & Alyosha and Petoskey. 9 pm. $5. 21+.