- On a roll: N.C. pop-rock band Portastatic (I.E. 'Superchunk ... with strings?')
Based out of the fertile rock scene of Chapel Hill, N.C., guitar-pop combo Portastatic make no delay as they travel back to Charleston for another show at the Village Tavern in support of their ninth studio album.
Led by singer-guitarists Mac McCaughan and Jim Wilbur (both of Superchunk), Merge Records recording act Portastatic began as an enthusiastic side project in 1993, when McCaughan assembled various home recordings and loose ideas. This season's touring lineup includes Mac on guitars and vocals, Matt McCaughan (Mac's brother) on drums, Jeff Clarke (of N.C. band Work Clothes) on guitar, Erin Oliva on bass, and Margaret White, on violin and other instruments.
Over the years, Portastatic evolved from a lo-fi side project to the main musical focus for McCaughan. Recordings varied from acoustic-based folk tunes and romantic love songs to straightahead power-pop and flat-out rockers.
This month, McCaughan and the gang released an elegant rock album titled Be Still Please, replete with an unusually clever use of string arrangements, twisting melodies, and from-the-heart vocal work.
"Some of these songs came right out of the summer after we finished Bright Ideas. With Portastatic not touring as much as Superchunk did, I have more time to actually work on songs," explains McCaughan. "I did a film score in Nov. 2005, which gave me more experience working on string charts and different string players. That gave me more confidence going into Be Still Please and making it more orchestrated than previous records."
Be Still Please is the prompt follow-up to last year's sparkling Bright Ideas, another collection chock-full of melodic and dynamic guitar-pop tunes. –T. Ballard Lesemann
Portastatic headline at the Village Tavern (1055 Johnnie Dodds Blvd., 884-6311) on Fri. Oct. 20 with support from Jennifer O'Connor and The Fire Apes. 10 p.m. Cover is $8. See www.village-tavern.com and www.portastatic.com for more.