John Baldwin Gourley, vocalist/guitarist for Alaska-rooted indie darlings Portugal. The Man, has been named the “Best Vocalist of 2008” by the editors of Alternative Press magazine (February issue, just out). Additionally, the magazine’s staff selected the band’s third and most recent release, “Censored Colors,” as one of last year’s “10 Essential Albums.”
The editors cited Gourley’s “instantly-recognizable” voice, his “layers of delicate vocals that lend P.TM songs their unique, neuvo-vintage sound.” The decision to include “Censored Colors” as an “essential” album had the editors pointing to the band having “caged an ambient aural menagerie,” making the album and the band “‘the land of the midnight sun’s most illuminated export.” The magazine’s initial review of the CD hailed it “impossibly cohesive and gloriously disparate with songs that equally evoke vintage Led Zeppelin and Marvin Gaye.”
Following this prodigious recognition, Portugal. The Man – Gourley, Zachary Scott Carothers (bass), Ryan Neighbors (keyboards/vocals), and newest full-time member Garrett Lunceford (drums) – head next week to Camp Street Studios in Boston to begin recording their fourth album. The band will work with producers Paul Q. Kolderie (Pixies, Radiohead, Throwing Muses) who mixed “Censored Colors,” and Adam Taylor (The Lemonheads, The Dresdon Dolls). Known for shying away from any pre-production, this time P.TM comes to the studio with a slew of demos in various stages of development. Gourley, who usually pens lyrics the night before he is due to record them, has been writing for some time now, focusing on a few years of life in Alaska. The new album is expected out mid-summer on the band’s own Approaching AIRBalloons label via Equal Vision Records.
2008 was a memorable and busy year for Portugal. The Man, with the recording and release of “Censored Colors,” the formation of their own label, Approaching AIRBalloons, a partnership with Equal Vision Records, extensive touring here in the U.S and throughout Europe, and their outspoken opinions of former VP candidate and fellow Wasilla, Alaska resident, Sarah Palin. This New Year promises to be even more action-packed.