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    Monday, March 05, 2007

    Out in front: Hello Damascus MP3s



    They'll snake into your head. Patientily, lazily, at a stroll's pace, Hello Damascus's songs will find their way in and win you over. I discovered that lovely secret firsthand, when I received their PDX Pop Now! contribution "Randy" via e-mail. Upon the first few listens, I was impressed enough to post it the next day. After a week, it had secured a permanent spot on my ever-shifting playlist. It'd also become the song I'd play right before bed, its mellow, contemplative melancholia soothing and lightening the darkness. In two weeks, it'd even tiptoed to the top of my iPod's 25 Most Played and ruled the spot like a benevolent monarch.

    What else could I do but progress to their eight-song vinyl-only debut Harvest Dolls? Suddenly, I had seven more opportunities to nurse my slow-burning wounds, to soundtrack drives down barren backroads, to while away Sundays on a porch with a Maker's rocks in tow. I had seven more chances to be won over and sung into a sweet, contented sleep. Once again,
    from the first touch-down of the needle, I liked what I was hearing. But it wasn't until the sixteenth listen, the twenty-seventh, even the fifty-fourth spin for some tracks, that the songs cautiously but obligingly started to reveal their full capacities.

    Hello Damascus, comprised of Matt Lounsbury, Jason Madore, Jeffrey Scott and Blake Hoover, can sound something like early Wilco or The National, thanks to Lounsbury's wistful baritone and the band's elegant interpretations of folk and rock. But their willingness to set their own pace (literally and figuratively) and to brave the hard-sell front of quiet, meditative rock set them apart too. And of course, there's that picture featured above, which makes me wonder if there's anyone anywhere who's ever looked more affable in their lives. Are there any three people out there you'd rather share a Black Butte Porter and bullshit about music with after a stressful day at work? Hello Damascus clearly understand the struggle and the celebration, and they've set the daily ache to gorgeous song. If for some reason you don't agree, sit back and take in another fifty listens, because it's just a matter of time.

    Vinyl copies of Harvest Dolls can be bought by emailing Rico at kahveh@hotmail.com.

    * MP3: "Randy" - Hello Damascus from Harvest Dolls
    * MP3: "Devil Dale" - Hello Damascus from Harvest Dolls
    * MP3: "Etheridge" - Hello Damascus from Harvest Dolls [Visit them]

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