One of the first things I did during my first full day in Portland recently — after hitting up the foodcarts, of course — was making my way to a record store.
I spotted one pretty quickly while attempting to navigate the slightly confusing streets — Jackpot Records, which is located on NW Bursnside, about a block away from the world-famous Powell’s Books.
Upon entering the store, I headed directly to one of the listening stations, and the first album I played was Fortress by Miniature Tigers. I was immediately bobbing my head along to the tunes that were coming through the headphones.
My favorite was the second track, “Rock & Roll Mountain Troll”. It starts out slow, but then, at the 0:40 mark, it really picks up and gets going.
In reading reviews of the band, I noticed that there were several mentions of The Beatles and Beach Boys as far as influences — and even a couple of nods to Weezer. But the one group that stood out the most to me on this album was Of Montreal — so much so that I keep getting a hankerin’ for Outback Steakhouse every time I listen to this album.
The similarities to the Georgia lads can be heard on several tracks, including “Gold Skull”, “Egyptian Robe” — which sounds like two or three songs in one — “Japanese Woman” and “Tropical Birds”.
On the opening track, “Mansion of Misery”, they even reminded me of Arcade Fire — that is, if Arcade Fire was a four-piece from Phoenix.
Another strong song, “Bullfighter Jacket”, opens with a punk-tribal-scream thing that I’ve heard before — possibly in multiple songs — but I just can’t place it.
And on the closing track, “Coyote Enchantment”, I could not help but recall Sugar Hill Gang’s “Apache” when I heard the opening bars, which were sustained in the background throughout the entirety of the song.
Fortress, which came out in July, is actually Miniature Tigers’ second full-length album and was preceded in 2008 by Tell It To the Volcano.
I went back and listened to the debut and was immediately greeted by a track I’d heard often but forgot all about, “Cannibal Queen” before. Now I suddenly remember hearing about this band awhile back.
Other than the opener, I wasn’t overly blown away by this album. It wasn’t bad, by any means, it just wasn’t as strong as the follow-up.
A couple of songs I did note included the title track — which reminds me of the previously mentioned “Rock & Roll Mountain Troll” — and “Annie Oakley”, which kinda sounds like The Magic Numbers, without all the harmonies.
To hear more of Miniature Tigers, visit their MySpace page.