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Ross Island Bridge

Portland’s Ross Beach has become somewhat of a pop scene godfather, an impresario-like figure who hosts some of the city’s best shows in his living room while lending his organizational skills and time to such efforts as the vaunted PDX Pop Now! festival. And along with being one of the city’s most beloved musicians, he’s also a top-notch songwriter. With Ross Island Bridge, Beach steps aside and gives other Portland performers a chance to vocally interpret his songs, a la Stephin Merritt and the 6ths. The music even sounds like the 6ths, with Beach employing a bevy of effects-laden arpeggio-filled synthy structures that would welcome any singer worth their diaphragms. The effect comes off as oddly psychedelic, a decidedly different direction for the head Hellpet. Ali Ippolito, of Heroes and Villains, gets the toughest assignment, having to turn around lyrical nuggets such as “Is that fucking hilarious or what?” that Beach himself might deliver on a dime. But Ippolito captures Beach’s intended phrasing perfectly, making the song, along with the frantic gear-switching ending, one of the record’s three gems. The others include Dreaming Of, sung by the etherally piped Kaitlyn NiDonovan, and Ifeelmyselfhoping, sung by Autopilot’s Adrienne Hatkin. Hatkin’s one-of-a-kind voice — sorry, can’t describe it, can’t even come close to any references, it’s just unusual without being atonal or gimmicky — fits, I’m guessing, with Beach’s project aesthetic: He gave them a template, be it through melodies or vibe, to follow, but didn’t suck the life out of their tracks by watching over them too carefully. The one thing about the release: Beach’s voice is a pleasant baritone that enunciates clearly and forcefully. I miss that on this disc, and am hoping he’ll put out a companion LP with his own interpretations of these tunes. That said, this 7ths CD is pretty damn good. www.rossbeach.com ANDY GIEGERICH

 October 27, 2009  Posted by Ross at 4:00 pm CDs, Posts, Releases  Add comments

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