Blue Giant isn't a supergroup, exactly, but anyone with a scrap of interest in Portland, Oregon's plenteous music scene will recognize at least a few of the names — Kevin and Anita Robinson of Viva Voce, Chris Funk of the Decemberists, Evan Railton of Swords, and Seth Lorinczi of the Golden Bears — decorating its roster. And while a cabal of like-minded local artists banding together isn't particularly revolutionary, Blue Giant's scrappy indie-rock is surprisingly countrified, a collection of knee-slapping, low-country laments infused with pedal-steel yawns and indebted, at least in part, to Gram Parsons's enduring notion of "cosmic American music."
The Robinsons are Alabama ex-pats, but Blue Giant is very much a West Coast band, and its endlessly addictive, self-titled debut mostly avoids the gothic foreboding — creeping kudzu, poisoned whisky, rising rivers — that animates its southern counterparts. There's plenty of earned heartbreak here ("When my love is gone, it's gone for good," Kevin Robinson promises), but tracks like "Clean the Clock" and "Blue Sunshine" are also open, ecstatic stompers, as bright and burnished as the Pacific Ocean. Over and over, Blue Giant inverts alt-country's sad-sack reputation, and its rockier, more boisterous moments evoke the most classic of classic-rock records (see Led Zeppelin, ZZ Top, Neil Young) — so turn it up and dance the pain away.