Portland band Jared Mees & The Grown Children and their third album, “Only Good Thoughts Can Stay,” sound much like you would think at first — a bunch of adults acting like children and making music.
Their music is catchy, upbeat and downright fun. A playful innocence is preva¬lent from the get-go with the opening track, “Hungry Like a Tiger,” which feigns a sense of naivety and quickly gives way to heartfelt purity and more introspection than is immediately apparent.
The album brilliantly combines electric guitar riffs and piano chords with sweet yet complex melodies from horns, strings and the vocals of Mees and others.
Rather than smothering each track with energetic chord progressions and pep¬py lyrics, each song is deeply personal but maintain a posi¬tive outlook on life, making for for an immensely fun and cathartic experience.
“Good Thoughts” strikes a great balance between lively, danceable rock and deep, thoughtful lyrics. Mees’ pronounced singing is strong and creative, but it is through the intricate music of the rest of the band that the listener establishes a deep connection with the words. You can dance, clap and sing along and still come out with a fresh look at life, love and friendship.
The band keeps most songs on the album longer than four minutes to success¬fully shake free of the of the two-to-three-minute restraint of the typical single. How¬ever, none of the tracks ever become dull or repetitive; they each are filled with vari¬ance and driving energy and provide Mees, and each of the many instruments used, ample opportunity to make their presence known. The sheer vivacity and depth of each track beautifully push the listener through the entire album.
The sincerity portrayed in “Good Thoughts” is what ultimately makes it an enjoy¬able and exciting sample of the music that’s coming out of Portland right now. It’s one of those albums that you can tell the band had a ton of fun making. One listen through is bound to get almost anyone moving and singing along (at least in their heads).
The album is clearly the band’s strongest work, bring¬ing with it a more refined sound and complexity that grabs and holds attention throughout.
Some of the most interest¬ing tracks include the seven-minute-long emotional pow¬erhouse “Tiny Toy Piano” and the catchy but personal “Billy Bird.” The humor¬ous and somewhat morbid “Graverobbers” tells the story of a graverobber who meets poetic justice when he is buried alive by his accomplice — all to a driv¬ing rhythm reminiscent of a hoe-down. The final song, “Shake,” sums up the album by literally “shaking all these blues away” because “only good thoughts can stay.”
In addition to being a front man, Jared Mees also runs the emerging Portland record label/store/art collec¬tive Tender Loving Empire, responsible for the likes of Y La Bamba, Loch Lomond and Typhoon.
This album will be released May 10 and the band will have two release shows May 14 in addition to touring around Oregon and Califor¬nia. The first show (all ages) opens at 6 p.m. at Backspace and the second (21+) opens at 9 p.m. at Someday Lounge in Portland.
Tune in to KSLC 90.3 FM or listen online at www.lin¬field.edu/kslcfm.html (on campus only) to hear tracks from “Only Good Thoughts Can Stay.”
Braden Smith/Managing editor
Braden Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.