♫♪  Musée Mécanique - “O, Astoria!”

The starry-eyed gallop of Musée Mécanique’s “O, Astoria!” is a fine song to wake up to. After the first verse, when the brain will still be nodding between perceptive realities, the song kicks into a startling march. The snappy drums coax a sleepy trumpet solo, which appears again later, brighter and more vibrant. The trumpet and xylophone play colorful, circling motifs that add a sense of youthful wonder to the track’s solid chord progression. Very appropriate, since the Portland group’s Micah Rabwin and Sean Ogilvie lyrics recall a similar sense of wonder shared by pioneers of the Old West who came to Oregon searching for fortune and excitement (imagine a less politically correct time that doesn’t really acknowledge resentful natives and dysentery).

A fine song to wake up to, but an even better one to go adventuring to. Like Beirut’s Zach Condon or Colin Meloy, Musée Mécanique use a wide palate of instruments to accent their songwriting, as they do in the song’s first great build up. This sets them apart from similar folk acts who exploit Americana clichés to nauseating effect. They condense months of perilous trekking (“Oh what length we’ve waited for this place to seek us out”) into a four minute number triumphant at times, uncertain at others. The band traverses rolling hills, rocky mountains, and formidable rivers to reach its goal, and I smile and head into the kitchen to make coffee.

• Musée Mécanique: https://www.facebook.com/museemecanique
• Tender Loving Empire: http://www.tenderlovingempire.com

Chocolate Grinder

CHOCOLATE GRINDER is our audio/visual section, with an emphasis on the lesser heard and lesser known. We aim to dig deep, but we’ll post any song or video we find interesting, big or small.

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