Spark & Shine
The Portland, Ore.-based power pop quintet finally releases its sophomore effort, six years after “Comes Back to You” and four years after the stopgap “Ghost Sessions” EP.
Some groups start out doing albums of long-form psychedelic music and later hone their craft to produce reasonably short rock songs. For others, it’s vice versa. The debut CD from Sacramento-based East Portal Express gives listeners the best of both worlds.
Bishop’s newest succeeds on three fronts: It’s a great album; it pays tribute to the Oklahoma-raised singer/slide guitarist’s early influences; and it assembles an impressive cast of supporting musicians, some of whom are old friends and some who are up-and-coming artists, both types to which he often humbly relinquishes lead vocals.
Dave Matthews’ “Fat Man” arguably is the best reinterpretation on this “tribute” album. Radically different from the original, it’s slowed way down and adds African and island overtones, but the real treat is Matthews’ dozen and a half vocal tracks (he’s always used his voice like an instrument) and Sonny Landreth’s soporific slide guitar.