[BLUES ROCK] Portland's Tango Alpha Tango is best experienced amid a crowded room of sweaty guitar junkies. Logically, then, a well-mixed live album is the next greatest thing. Captured last year at local recording space Banana Stand, the performance delivered by the quartet tackles a sprawling beast in 12 songs. From the first bluesy electric-guitar riff in "Kill & Haight" to the gritty energy of "Black Cloud," the record not only translates frontman Nathan Trueb's ability to write a good tune and dominate a guitar neck, but also the band's flawless fusion of blues and rock with funky bass lines and psychedelic keys. Trueb explores his folkier singer-songwriter side on "Desert Snow," a song composed simply of his scratchy, worn-in voice and supplementary fingerpicking. But with nearly half the songs on the set list running eight minutes or longer, many of the album's gems surface when Trueb cracks them open with his guitar. In lengthy tracks like the trippy "In My Time of Dying" and the driving rock jam "Mona Lisa's Death," the frontman disassembles ideas, draws out phrases and slowly builds them up again. Although the album doesn't quite hit with the impact of experiencing the band in the flesh, it comes pretty damn close.
SEE IT: Tango Alpha Tango plays Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi Ave., with Minden and Summer Cannibals, on Saturday, Dec. 22. 9 pm. $5. 21+.