SOS is on the rise

by Max Jones

Portland, Oregon, is having a good couple of years. It is host to the popular TV-show Portlandia, the basketball team, the Trail Blazers, just made it past the first round of the playoffs for the first time in a long time and Portland’s latest musical export, SOS, is killing it with their first, self-titled album. What do these things have in common? Well, nothing at all, except that something might be in the water out there in the Pacific Northwest, and SOS is drinking it by the gallon.

Randa Leigh does the heavy vocal lifting on the album, and Brian Vincent lays down track after track of perfectly matched instrumentals to complement Randa’s dreamy voice. On the album’s title track, Randa proclaims that she thinks she’s “better when I’m drunk or high” and while the lyric might seem juvenile when read, the way she delivers it over the synthesized beat is a thing of beauty. It truly makes the listener believe that they, too, might be better when drunk or high. No small feat.

There are wide-ranging influences at play here, like Timbaland’s production, Kanye’s auto-tuning, and early trip hop’s aesthetic, and they blend together to form a truly unique sonic experience. Not only does each song stand up on its own merits, but SOS has crafted an actual album from the first track to the last. In between “Gorgeous” and “Dead or Alive”, they sample a quote from Ryan Gosling in Blue Valentine where he begs someone to “Get drunk and make love”. The laid back vibe the duo has achieved on SOS makes the album the perfect accompaniment for doing either.

Release date: September 16, 2014