It’s good news that Portland in Oregon seems to be shaking off its reputation for lush, slightly left-field folk pop. It’s not that some of that stuff isn’t absolutely brilliant, but sometimes I get the impression that a town forging a reputation for a particular kind of music can end up being more of a straitjacket than anything else after a while.
I’ve heard a lot of good music out of Portland in the last year or so, and none of it sounds all that close to the stuff for which the town had such a name in around 2008 that Mrs. Toad and I decided to spend a holiday there just to see what the fuck was going on in the place. Yards can now be added to that list, and they seem to be working with a really interesting artist collective out there called Self Group, who also seem to bear further exploration.
The song which suckered me in was the one in the video above, which uses nice, clear piano to adorn a sludge of guitars and indecipherable vocals. The rest of the music is similar – grandiose and sweeping, with a hyperactive waterfall* of drums bashing away until the whole business seems to exhaust itself and peter out to a satisfied conclusion.
Of the three songs in the set below (there are a couple more on their YouTube Channel) the cacophonies towards which their songs build seem to be a little less furious, and a little more dreamy and warm. In general though, you get the impression: atmospheric, rolling, shoegazey stuff which treads carefully along that very fine line between being hypnotic and perhaps lacking a little bit of hook.
The songs they have so far just manage to judge it nicely, but it’s a close thing, and something I suspect they’ll have to be a little careful of in future. Nevertheless, for now, I think this really does sound rather good.
*Oh piss off, alright, I know I know. It made sense in my head at the time!More: yards