Portugal. The Man: What Are You Listening To?
Long-running, well-loved band Portugal. The Man is now a GRAMMY-winning band, having snagged Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for their smash hit “Feel it Still.” To celebrate Zach Carothers and Eric Howk put together a playlist of songs they’re digging of late.
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Graham Nash, “Better Days”
Equal measures of soul-crushing lament and indomitable optimism, Graham sings this one like his heart depends on it. Wait for the high note he hits when he reprises the intro lyrics toward the end.
The Kinks, “Picture Book”
Here’s where power pop begins. The guitar riff is a deceptively simple do-re-mi affair, which leaves the vocal melodies to be sweeping and sweet. Meanwhile, those drums are just absolutely crushing it.
The Zombies, “Care of Cell 44″
On the surface it’s just a lovely, well orchestrated song about longing. Dig a little deeper, and you find out it’s a letter to the author’s sweetie, who is in prison for undisclosed reasons. Also, nobody has a voice like Colin Blunstone. Nobody.
Pink Floyd, “Shine on You Crazy Diamond (parts I-V)”
Pink Floyd’s 13-plus minute homage to Syd Barrett is a gift to us all. The production is so cinematic, the buildup and emotional arc leading up to the first verse so grand. A slow burn with a great payoff, nothing sounds better in good headphones than this.
Heart, “Crazy on You”
Nancy Wilson’s intricate acoustic intro is pretty impressive on its own, but her sister Ann steals the show with this vocal performance. After years of listening to her belt out ‘Lemme go crazy on you,’ I still can’t figure out if that’s a promise or a threat. Either way, sold.
Cody Chesnutt, “Look Good In Leather”
Not everybody has the confidence to have their debut record be a 36-song double LP, but as Cody Chesnutt proves on this track, he’s swimming in swagger. This song is for strutting.
Young MC, “Bust A Move”
Fact: If you knew all the words to these verses as a kid you were the king of recess. It’s still fun to put on at a party and see how far I can get without getting tongue-tied.
Johnny Adams, “Lonely Man”
I believe Johnny when he sings about the mistakes he made that led to his loneliness because he’s doing a damn good job of selling it. I hope he found someone in the end.
Funkadelic, “Can You Get to That”
George Clinton made some art that was pushing the edges of weird for the sake of weirdness, and quite a few Funkadelic songs fall into that camp. However, this track proves that they could write a monster of a perfect pop song, too. The backups are way too much fun to sing on these choruses.
Shuggie Otis, “Strawberry Letter 23″
I have a tape player next to my bed, and the only tape I’ve had in there for the last six months is Freedom Flight by Shuggie Otis. This song is the crown jewel of that wonderful record, and it is the best ‘waking up on a Sunday’ song of all time in my humble opinion.
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