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Unknown Mortal Orchestra

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Editors’ Notes

Formed by (underrated) Mint Chicks guitarist Ruban Nielson, Unknown Mortal Orchestra sounds like an Elephant 6 band sent back to the ‘70s. They groove on simple funk rhythms, guitars and keys cloaked in a rather thorny kind of reverb, a snare drum happily clanking out a bony backbeat. Nielson’s voice sounds like a cross between Beck and Marc Bolan, and his proficient guitar work periodically steps out into the limelight, like a shy stoner trying out his moves. On the BandCamp viral “hit,” “FFunny FFriends,” Nielson offers up a coolly restrained 30-second break amidst the snaky rhythm parts, and on “Bicycle,” the spare lead is accompanied by a hilarious and charming manipulated vocal approximation of a wah-wah peddle. The garage-punk guitars on “Nerve Damage” are one unexpected delight, among many: “Strangers Are Strange” undulates to a slinky, soul-pop vibe (remember Sly & The Family Stone?), and “Thought Ballune” is a paisley-colored slice of sweet psych-pop that could turn a dark day sunny. The brilliance of “How Can You Luv Me” is evident from the first bit of Fender Mustang funk-twang and percolating bass line. Dance? Try not to.

Customer Reviews

Plug this mutha in

You know how everything sounds when you've got water in your ears? Now imagine that while you're standing in a huge empty warehouse while some funky old steam fueled vinyl record player pumps out music by some unknown mortal orchestra from a distant alternate reality. Then imagine you aren't imagining this at all, and that it's very real. It's very VERY brilliantly real, AND you can buy it . . . which you should . . . and enjoy it in your own empty warehouse on the edge of reality.

Buy it.

That they're touring with Yuck! and Toro y Moi is an appropriate indicator of both their talent and of the range of sounds one might expect to hear should they attend one of those shows and/or pick up this perfectly-timed, instant classic. Start your summer off right and buy it.

Best summer album 2011

See title.


Formed: 2010 in Portland, OR

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '10s

After disbanding New Zealand's the Mint Chicks, Portland, Oregon's Ruban Neilson planned to quit music and take on a day job. For a hobby, he started making psychedelic demos in his basement using samples. Soon, music took over as a career again, and his fun brand of experimental pop ended up in the hands of Fat Possum Records, who released Unknown Mortal Orchestra's self-titled debut in the early summer of 2011. As interest in the project grew, Neilson enlisted the help of a full band for a promotional...
Full Bio
Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Unknown Mortal Orchestra
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Customer Ratings