6. The Lavender Flu (43.5 points)
SOUNDS LIKE: A cartoon version of Syd Barrett fronting Royal Trux in the afterlife.
NOTABLE VOTES: Mark and Tim Janchar of Hovercraft Records, Psychomagic's Steve Fusco, PDX Pop Now artistic director Meagan Ruyle.
The Lavender Flu is sick of being categorized.
"We're too weird for the garage-punk dudes, but then we're too rock for the avant-garde guys," says frontman Chris Gunn. "It gets really frustrating, so we try to fuck with that."
What began as a casual recording project with an open-door policy eventually became Heavy Air, the band's sprawling, unclassifiable debut, featuring 30 songs in which Gunn follows his wayward muse. Heavy Air's dense expanse covers everything from direct, Velvet Underground-indebted pop to tripped-out, lysergic wormholes. The audio environs are warm and hazy—a similar climate to '90s psych rockers the Olivia Tremor Control, but with the mercurial eclecticism of Syd Barrett or outsider cult hero Moondog.
But Gunn is already moving on. The Lavender Flu has finished recording one of two records it assumes will shatter any notion of what the band sounds like based on its debut album.
"We've written songs now based on the live band, but then we have another one that's definitely crazier than anything out there," Gunn says.
"But we wanna do this other short, more pop, more concise album first," adds bassist Scott Simmons. "I love a good 35-minute Kinks record. So we want to do an album like that."
Considering the ambitious and varied nature of Heavy Air, the Lavender Flu's plan of attack seems a far cry from what it's built its foundation on. But as far as the band is concerned, dodging expectations is the most important thing.
"You can have fun doing something that's already been done for the rest of your life," Gunn says, "but that's not what we're trying to do."
NEXT GIG: April 9 at the Know.