Album Review: pseudoboss

It’s been a long-standing belief of mine that you should listen to a record all the way through at least four times before you make up your mind about it. With the self-titled release from pseudoboss I did just that and found myself immediately captivated by the dynamic intensity of this power trio. I feel they have a classic rock meets atmospheric alternative sound with a splash of gasoline. The band is known for their high-energy shows, so I was looking forward to seeing if they could capture that in the studio. With the help of producer Ian Watts, they have recorded an album that has all the power of a live performance and a few wonderful surprises.

photo by Teri Briggs

photo by Teri Briggs

Recently in an interview on Portland Radio Project, Noah Stroup (lead vocals/guitars) explained to me that they tracked the record in six days and did the majority of it live. From a production standpoint, this was absolutely the best call they could have made. You can hear our interview on Portland Radio Project here: PRP.FM.

One aspect of this album that I really enjoyed was the attention to detail and nuance in the guitar layers. Justin Gibson (lead guitar/backing vocals) plays a soaring anthemic solo on “Bombs Away” and has moments of brilliance all throughout the record. I loved the softly-picked harmonics during the intro of the song “Fallen Solider Part I”, and then the unexpected appearance of a piano in “Fallen Solider Part II”. When listening to the album with headphones on, there is a sense of intimacy with the record that can get lost in a live setting. One of the songs you find this vibe on is “I’ve Been There”. In this song, Charley McGowan (drums) plays an alluring and almost haunting piece during the verses on his toms. This was followed by hard-hitting cymbals and relentless intensity on the choruses, bridge, and outro.

By the third or fourth time I was listening through, I found myself looking forward to certain parts of the record where the guys have done a wonderful job of layering vocals. They do so in a way that compliments these well-crafted songs. At times, the vocals are no-nonsense and in your face like on the track “Make Her Scream”. They used a texture on Noah’s voice that reminds me of the classic Delta Blues sounds from the 50’s and 60’s. Then they showcase a larger sonic quality on “Devil May Care” with a sweeping melody and harmonies during the bridge and outro. It’s clear when you hear these songs that the band put a lot of work into their individual parts and how they come together. Noah’s melodies and lyrics propel you through the songs where you can hear the honesty in his voice. The members of pseudoboss have poured their hearts into this project and it shows.

The only complaint I have about the album is that I wish there were more songs for me to enjoy. However, the nine songs on the record individually stand on their own but together make very captivating and exciting record to listen to. This one will be in my personal playlist for months to come.

The band is releasing the album this Saturday at the Wonder Ballroom. Do yourself a favor, go to the show and get this record!

Music ReviewsLuke Neill