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Home: Portland, Oregon
Members: Chad ~ bass/vocals
Wesley ~ guitar
Eric ~ drums
I spent a decade north of Seattle in a little town called Bellingham. I remember when graduating from college, Western Washington U., that a lot of my musician friends wanted to become a part of the music scene of Portland, Oregon. I'll even confess to say that many of the best in the jazz circle left because of that drive to move forward irreversably dampening the B'ham scene. You may notice that I didn't say Seattle. Seattle is just one music scene of many in the Pacific Northwest that deserve mention. Portland and Olympia, WA are & have been turning out some great bands encompassing national trends but also the innate laid-back character of the area. So, with that in mind it's an honor to open this month's reviews with a lesser known blues-rock trio called Phonic Wave from Portland. Before listening to their tunes you can't help but notice the everyman point of view in the song titles: "Over Worked & Under Paid," "Turn Out The Lights," "Road Less Travelled," "Cliches," "Lost In Thought" & "Shaken Not Stirred" ... as every band should have a 007 reference in it's repertoire, right? Nothing to artistic, frightening, sexual or mystifying. & this gives you a bit of insight into their music. These 3 guys are not aiming for any one crowd with their playing ... come one and all, punks or folkies. I don't review a lot of blues-rock bands here, but that's my fault for ignoring an important part of the rock-metal spectrum as without the blues it would be a far smaller spectrum. PW remind us of the roots of rock by giving both styles their due, albeit these guys throw a little funk into the mix too so this is not pure blues-rock by any means. Chad even sings at moments like a black man, reminiscent of a young Robert Cray (i.e. "Over Worked & Under Paid," "Cliche" & "Turn Out The Lights"), which in the blues context is a top compliment. Though, you won't find any Cray guitar solos here. Actually, you'll not find many solos at all as the guitar is turned into an unobtrusive rhythm instrument allowing more spotlight on the drums & bass which are contributing just as much to the texture. It's the groove approach over the flash approach. "Road Less Travelled" is one of their two quasi-metal songs & I find to be one of their weaker spots sounding undeveloped. The problem is that metal is so guitar based with flaming solos that the purely rhythm approach PW uses means their approach to metal sounds a bit thin without any flashing solos or second guitar. Albeit, while listening to this piece I could hear a rhythm that had more in touch with reggae than metal, which is probably the direction I'd develop the song - funky like PW does best! The vocals also suffer in this song as it's less soulful. "Lost In Thought" is their other hard edged tune, but holds together better. Probably because of the shift in textures throughout the song with echoing bass & guitar that creates a bigger rock sound. PW is a very good band that I expect is gaining new fans regularly as they continue to perform and develop their sound. These are some funky white brothers!