Portland's country rockers Archangels Thunderbird advance a slightly subdued, authentic, mid-tempo sound, which is big on soulful harmonies, twanging electric guitars and the imminent threat of swing dancing couples spontaneously appearing at any point. Thankfully it's music that's in no great rush to get its point across; instead it eases into a good beer-drinking pace and stays there confidently, with songs about second cousins and the standard rural fare. An RIYL list would probably feature folks like Gram Parsons, Linda Ronstadt, the Flying Burrito Brothers, Townes Van Zandt and maybe somebody like Uncle Tupelo, minus Jay Farrar's overstrident vocals.
Two side notes: First, the band's second guitarist is Jason Fleming of the Goddamn Gentlemen and brother of John Fleming, who plays bass for Missoula's Sasha Bell Band and co-owns Ear Candy Music. Second, the band's name comes from one of my all-time favorite songs, Amon Düül II's "Archangel Thunderbird," whose vocal work by Renate Knaup ranks at the top of '70s rock vocal performances. Similarities to that piece of music stop mostly at the name, though Archangels' Marley Gaddis vocal parts are also beautiful and haunting.
Archangels Thunderbird play the ZACC Below Sat., Aug. 19, at 8 PM, along with Tiny Plastic Stars. $5.