I gotta be honest—upon first few listens, I wasn't too sure about "Bird Beatz," one of two sneak-peak jams graciously offered via recent email by Please Step Out of the Vehicle frontman Travis Wiggins. "Bird Beatz" (to be featured on Wiggins' upcoming follow-up to last year's 4-Track Soul
) has a laidback hip-hop vibe that's pretty easy to get behind, and it employs a smattering of spoken word samples and scratchy goodness (not to mention a pretty constant real of birds chirping). But there's something about the paced-out, amateurish rap vocals that turned me off at first.
After repeated spins, though, I came to find Wiggins' positive message pretty charming: He beckons listeners to go outside, recognize the potential of their existence ("We can clean up this planet/ With our powers combined/ Go get your bike helmet/ Let's go for a ride"), and acknowledge the "billion" things we still have to learn. Humility and hope are a few things I can always get behind—and the mood shed on "Bird Beatz" by its companion track, "Who Is Comin' With Us?," drives the uplifting, lazy-day vibe all the more home.
After a sweet, soulful organ outro that perfectly melds the two tracks (so smoothly, in fact, that you're not sure which cut it belongs to), "Bird Beatz" segues into "Who Is Comin' With Us?," an ode to Portland summer porch livin'. It not only celebrates "North Portland side yards," playing croquet and geeking out with friends over comic books, it calls out to fellow PDX musicians and maintains the carpe diem vibe of "Bird Beatz." During one of his casual rhymes, Wiggins asks, "Who's comin' with us?/ Who's feeling citrus?" It's an obvious nod to brother-in-psych rock Alan Singley, who's upcoming release is titled Feelin' Citrus
. And, wouldn't you know it: "Who's Comin'" features none other than Singley on backup vocals and random babbles, as well as David Fimbres, a.k.a. Paper/Upper/Cuts, delivering what Wiggins keenly describes as "smoove flute solo."
The whole package (in large part thanks to "Who's Comin'") feels natural and communal: It's a melange of sounds old and new, combined into something at once trippy and soulful, organic and modern—calling to mind Flash Hawk Parlor Ensemble's cover of Massive Attack's "Teardrop." Give the pairing a few listens: You just might find yourself ready for summer—in spite of dark skies and seemingly never-ending rain.
Wiggins plays a solo set Friday, April 25, with Synesthete Ensemble at Rererato. 7 pm. Cover. All ages. PSOOTV, which is also working on a new album, plays Friday, May 2, with Bodhi at Rererato. 7 pm. Cover. All ages.
Photo: taken from Wiggins' MySpace.