The Deer Tracks leave their mark in Portland
Part way into their set, The Deer Tracks reminded me of what a pushover I am for music from their (self-declared) small country of Sweden.
As the combination of musical proficiency, drama (both sonically, as well as visually) and variety of instrumentation drew the audience (yours truly included) in, other admirable Swedish artists came to mind: the eclecticism of Karin Dreijer Andersson (Fever Ray, The Knife), the bombast and epic-ness of MEW, and the crisp percussiveness of Jose Gonzalez’ Junip.
After solid sets from Like a Villain (described by one person as “Alabama Shakes meets Tuneyards”), and Billygoats (catchy, adventurous electronic/folk/pop), The Deer Tracks – the brainchild/project of vocalist/multi-instrumentalists Elin Lindfors and David Lehnberg – expertly performed music from their brief, but sonically wide-ranging, catalog, it became clear that these were earnest musicians with a vision. Considering that Portland’s Mississippi Studios would be the inaugural performance in a 30 show tour that will take them around North America (with stops in Toronto and Montreal, aside from Midwest, East Coast, and SXSW), it’s clear that they have the big picture.
Joined on stage by two percussionists (an electronic drummer, as well as a drummer on a standard kit), Lindfors’ soaring, ethereal vocals and Lehnberg’s impassioned keyboards were placed front and center – providing a fleshed-out sound that truly transformed the performance space. The two jumped between their various instruments (Lindfors joked with me afterwords about the sheer volume of musical gear she had to navigate between the artists performing that night) – but managed quite expertly.
The band shared with me their origins in the north of Sweden (their bio alluding to recording in remote cabins), with an implied – yet humble – sense of pride in what has become a very diverse music scene in their country, one which is getting recognition in the States as well. I was able to share with them that I (once asked) was not only familiar with The Tallest Man on Earth, but that I had seen two of his performances in the last couple of years. Along with the aforementioned artists, I’ve also had the privilege of seeing Little Dragon, a band that inhabits a similar musical climate of what might be called “organic electronica”.
Yes, SLP could stand for “Swedes Like Portland”.
The Deer Tracks’ latest, The Archer Trilogy, Part III, is now available in the US, and demonstrates a band that is still harnessing its raw power and dramatic sound and intensity, but finding plenty of catchy rhythms and hooky tunes along the way.