Like a much-needed breath of springtime air, the band Arc Iris arrived in my life. I’ve landed on their cloud of orchestral pop and have no plans to float down to earth anytime soon.
Arc Iris is led by singer and multi-instrumentalist Jocie Adams, a past member of the folk-rock band The Low Anthem. They just released their debut self-titled album and its a dreamy foray through a 10-song enchanted forest where you never know when you’ll find a cello, horn, piano or patch of multi-layered vocals. Adams’ voice has a shimmering sparkle to it and it is the shining star of the record.
“Money Gnomes” starts things off with gorgeous strings and the crash of cymbals while Adams sings “love me please, love me true, love me beautifully.” “Lost on Me” is another melodious tune that slows way down as Adams’ voice hovers above the piano, strings and horns.
I think my current favorite is the lonesome “Whiskey Man.” “A sip of wine makes you stronger, as the wine runs dry, the nights get longer and your heart goes out to nobody,” laments Adams. But the song is by no means depressing, rather it’s a stark portrait about the delicacy of the human heart.
“Canadian Cowboy” is almost seven minutes long and every second is exquisite.
Then things get really fun with “Singing So Sweetly.” It’s like someone doused the record in lighter fluid for this one. It starts with the sounds of a honky tonk piano and has a carnival feel to it one moment, then a gospel feel the next. Then I’m in a speakeasy listening to jazz before heading back to the circus and the church. The song sounds like what the view in a kaleidoscope looks like. And that, my dear music fans, is only half the album.
I am 50 shades of excited to see Arc Iris live. If the record is any indication, the show will be resplendent.
Arc Iris. 9:30 p.m. Thursday. Space. 538 Congress St., Portland. $12; 18-plus; space538.org
I AM STILL NOT OVER last June’s Psychedelic Furs show at Asylum in Portland. I’m not over it because it was so spectacularly fantastic. Singer Richard Butler sounded as good as he did when I saw them back in the ’80s.
The band hasn’t released an album since 1991, but that hardly matters because their first four albums are all quite sacred to this fan. Richard Butler’s gravelly, yet perfect vocals haven’t changed. I still can’t discern some of his lyrics, but ask me if I care.
The debut self-titled album from 1980 opens with the 61/2 minute “India,” which has an achingly slow buildup before the dam breaks two minutes in, with a wall of guitar, drums, bass and then horns. The song is a ball of fire and Butler’s warbly vocals are sublime. I’ve never bothered to look up the lyrics though I can discern the words “stupid,” “tears” and “love” and that’s good enough for me.
“Sister Europe” is next and it’s one of my favorites. This song is smoky and sexy and is one of the finest examples of early ’80s alternative music. It’s one of those songs that every single time I listen to it I am struck by how good it is. Surely you have song like that in your life so you know what I’m talking about. It is not an insipid pop song designed for flash-in-the-pan chart success like so much of today’s mainstream junk. It’s a song that all these years later hasn’t lost its magic.
The same could be said for the three subsequent records, “Talk Talk Talk,” “Forever Now” and “Mirror Moves.”
I can’t wait for this show! I’ll be the fangirl sporting the five Psychedelic Furs buttons that I’ll never part with. You’re damn right I will be.
The Psychedelic Furs. 8 p.m. Wednesday. Port City Music Hall. 504 Congress St., Portland. $25 in advance; $30 day of show; $45 preferred seating; 18-plus; portcitymusichall.com
Aimsel Ponti can be contacted at 791-6455 or at: