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Album Review: Alialujah Choir

Self-Titled (Jealous Butcher)

[VOCAL POP] Two years ago, I was pretty excited about the Alialujah Choir. A supergroup of sorts featuring Weinland's Adam Shearer and Alia Farah alongside Norfolk & Western frontman Adam Selzer, the group's debut show was rich with gorgeous vocal harmonies and soft-but-twisting musical arrangements usually associated with old-school groups like CSNY or the Hollies. But then, as so many new bands do, this one evaporated into its members' busy schedules before the Alialujah Choir ever had a chance to take Portland by quiet storm.

So this debut album is the rare one that wholly deserves its "long-awaited" status. (The band's return show will have to wait a little longer, unfortunately, due to a death in the family.) This is one of the prettiest albums to come out of Portland since A Weather—a point driven home by lyrically abstract, A Weatherish tunes like opener "Laundry Song" (which also sounds a bit like a sedated version of the Mamas and the Papas' "California Dreamin'") and the lovely, whisper-soft closer "Really Home."

The Northwest has plenty of sweet-sounding folk-pop bands without much to say, but Alialujah Choir has got the full package: With these talents it's no surprise the songs are melodically engaging (nor that they are brilliantly produced in Selzer's capable hands), but the excellent lyricism is a bit surprising. Songs written by committee often resort to cliché, but from the concise lyrical violence of "Bones Cracking In" to the mysterious and haunting "Closer Than I Should," these songs function almost as well as mysterious short stories as they do as songs.

In other words, Alialujah Choir is the best possible kind of supergroup. Here's hoping we see more of the band in the next two years than we have in the last two.

SEE IT: Black Pussy plays the Ash Street Saloon, 225 SW Ash St., on Saturday, Feb. 11. 8 pm. $5. 21+. Alialjuah Choir's debut disc is out Tuesday, Feb. 14.