Pseudosix: Pseudosix

[3 January 2008]

By Elizabeth Newton

Wandering, pensive, intimate – all of these adjectives accurately describe the self-titled album from Portland, Oregon’s Pseudosix. This is a difficult album because it is not immediately gratifying. But after even just a few listens, the sweetness of Pseudosix’s writing begins to become apparent. The most astonishing thing about this record is that Pseudosix is able to create tracks of jazz-tinged, folk-inspired, burned-out slow jams that are at once raw, restrained, intimate, entrancing, and creative, but also perfectly in sync with each other. The album blends together into a unique experience of carefully crafted sonic components that each contribute to a disc perfect for throwing on when you need music that makes you think. Or feel. Or simply listen. Ultimately what matters is that this album is full of authentic music.

Pseudosix hints at the rambling alt-country of their contemporary peers, especially bands in the vein of Wilco. From the very first guitar notes of the opening “Some Sort of Revelation” we hear rambling chords wavering around, seemingly going nowhere, but they are certainly not without direction: on this song, and throughout the album, Pseudosix is able to create real tension and release that can be achieved only through careful, patient song-writing. On the other hand, the short and sweet “Paltry Remains”, lasting a mere minute, echoes indie-rockers The Shins more than anything, and its loping verses, although brief, are some of the album’s most fulfilling.

Pseudosix‘s appeal comes in it’s simplicity. These tracks are understated, with simple bass lines, reserved guitar solos, sweet violin harmonies, and simple percussion. Most of the tracks last only two or three minutes, and Pseudosix wastes no notes or time that are unnecessary. “Fight or Flight”, the album’s most haunting piece, is oddly disjointed as they sadly sing, “There’s no escaping social situations”. Each song is distinct from the ones around it but never out of place, and as a result the album seeps gradually into every pore of the listener’s body. The slow burners like “Enclave” and “Apathy and Excess” get into grooves that slowly jam, while the more momentous “Treacherous Ways” and “A Million Shards” move forward with restrained energy and subdued charm. “Under the Waves” stands as the album’s best track through churning rhythms and lovely vocals that gradually open up into a middle section of expansive guitar groove, tasteful drums, and gorgeous harmonies.

The closing “A Million Shards” features interlacing guitars and backing strings to create a song filled with rich harmony and relaxed intimacy, tinged with folk as a simple violin line soars over churning bass. Lovely, gorgeous, and luscious, it leaves us with the sounds of a band both tastefully understated and sinfully underrated. To put it simply, any fan of folk, alt-country, jazz, or indie should be listening to the aching, delicate, and enchanting sounds of Pseudosix.

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