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May 1st, 2013 12:01 am WW Staff | Cover Story

Best New Band 2013

10 local acts that Portland’s music insiders think you should hear.

IMAGE: Megan Holmes

9/10. (tie) Magic Mouth

  • 31 POINTS
  • Formed: 2011.
  • Sounds like: The righteously roof-raising house band in the B-52s’ Love Shack.

The past year has been good to Magic Mouth. During those 12 months, the soul, funk, gospel, disco, rock, etc. quartet was invited on a long tour with local heroes the Gossip, had its name dropped in interviews multiple times by Sleater-Kinney’s Corin Tucker as her favorite local band and snapped up big shows in Seattle and San Francisco. As clichéd as it may sound, the members of Magic Mouth are taking all the accolades and opportunities with incredible humility—even the news that they’ve been selected as one of Portland’s Best New Bands.

“When we play a show, we kind of just recognize our friends’ presence,” says singer-guitarist Peter Condra, surrounded by his bandmates and the clatter of midafternoon pinball players at My Father’s Place. “It still has the sensation of being a friend-only thing. Then people come out of left field with opportunities like this and it’s, like, ‘Oh, people outside of ourselves are noticing and we’re getting attention.’”

For all of the band’s modesty, the plain fact is that Magic Mouth is hard to ignore, especially when Condra, singer Stephfon Bartee, bassist Brendan Scott and drummer Ana Briseño are onstage, locked into a tightly wound groove. Emboldened by their natural chemistry and the thrill of playing live, all four sweat and shake and shout as one. Listeners incapable of getting gleefully caught up in the group’s maelstrom of “Funky Drummer”-esque breakdowns and sky-scraping weepers were born with ice water in their veins. 

Now it seems that everyone wants to bottle that energy in some form or other. A live video of the band playing at Mississippi Studios is being released soon. Banana Stand Media wants to bring the four down to its basement for a session. For Magic Mouth, though, the focus is on recording another quartet of tracks as a follow-up to its self-titled 2012 EP. 

“The four songs represent the four corners of our sound,” Condra says. “One is a raw, stripped-down rockabilly song. One is a percussion-heavy Afro-funk jam. One is a well-rounded disco-pop tune. And one is an R&B ballad.” In other words, it’s a surefire recipe to propel Magic Mouth even further into the pop stratosphere. ROBERT HAM.


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