As many people know, “Little Beirut” was the nickname given to Portland by Daddy George Bush’s administration back in the early ‘90s- a name well-earned and one for which the city has maintained its militant stance and independent pride, over the years. Engineered by Jeff Saltzmann (who also co-produced Rachel Taylor Brown’s album), Little Beirut, the band, are the product of Hamilton Sims and Edwin Paroissien, from whom we last heard in Silkenseed, some years back.
With many elegant musical touches and a dozen well composed songs, there is much to recommend this album. It sounds contemporary and like the work of many better known national acts- and is certainly worthy of national exposure and attention. Favorite songs are “Acid Wash Soul,” with its jagged guitars and a great rhythm section interaction between bassist Jonathan Trause and drummer Alex Inman. The quirky “Love During Wartime” is dedicated to Condoleeza Rice, probably one of the nicer songs she has ever had written for her (if she has received any others that didn’t include suggestions as to where she could post it herself).
And the brief instrumental “Estacada” is far more than that rathole deserves- with chiming washes of guitars underpinned by airy acoustic guitars and the faint sounds of people laughing (probably in a barroom). “Star Maps” connects with satisfying background vocals and a writhing percolation of guitars throughout. The dreamy title track catalogs the loss of a close relationship in images spidery sweet and sadly resolute.
Little Beirut have a winner of an album here. There is not a bad track. No filler. Every song is excellently crafted and presented. If they are of a mind, this band could easily become a national commodity. They are a world class aggregation and fine representatives of the pride Portland takes in being different from, and better than, the rest of the world.