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The Portland Cello Project, The Thao and Justin Power Sessions (Kill Rock Stars)

June 10, 2009
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Bringing cool back to cello
This ever-morphing collective of classically trained, hip-to-pop cellists, helmed by the multiskilled Douglas Jenkins (cellist, arranger, organizer, motivator), really knows how to run a musical blender. They''ve become experts at pureeing up anything and everything with their cello works, from Justin Timberlake covers to collaborations with members of The Decemberists. As one could guess, this makes for some very intriguing, kinetic performances, and this album''s no exception. The name of the set arrives courtesy of the group''s two latest co-conspirators, Portland''s own Justin Power and San Franciscan Thao Nguyen, who contribute four tracks each, most notably the rollicking folk-pop, countryside feel of Power''s “Seeds May Fall” and Nguyen''s pensive “Tallymarks,” with its spare arrangement and pebble-drop string effects. The remainder of the tracks include PCP''s dark-toned, haphazard take on Pantera''s “Mouth for War” (yes, that Pantera), and the group''s pretty, suspenseful version of fellow Oregon band Norfolk and Western''s “Turkish Wine.” If you never thought you''d buy an album by something called an “indie cello orchestra,” well, it''s time to put that preconceived notion on the back burner and give PCP a listen.  [4 out of 5 stars]

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