Any time a band uses unorthodox typographical symbols — like exclamation points, asterisks or question marks — in their name, they're basically guaranteeing that journalists, fans, poster designers and others will be forced to do extra homework in order to get everything right.
Portugal. The Man has a period in the middle of its name. It's typographically unorthodox, yes, but at least the band's records suggest a corresponding readiness to do away with confining standards in the music-making department as well. The band, originally from Wasilla, Alaska, makes free-spirited indie rock, spiky with abrasive textures, hints of psychedelic dance music, acoustic touches, and lots of contrasting bits.
It's the rare mix of freaky and catchy. The band has been working on new material for the last three years or so, allegedly making two records that were never entirely completed and then discarded for one reason or another. The band just released a single this month called "Feel It Still," which has touches of wall-of-sound retro soul-pop and an impressive sense of depth and space to it. This is a band that knows the value of a well-placed set of hand claps, a brief stop, a haunting synth line and falsetto backing vocals.
Politics have been a part of the PTM's material for a while — listen to "So American" or "People Say" to get a taste of how songwriter John Gourley processes his thoughts about his country, war and elected officials. Very recently the band inspired a little online flap with Infowars by mocking the right-wing conspiracy-heavy site in a video. There are few things more punk rock than ticking off reactionaries.
Portugal. The Man takes the stage at at College Street Music Hall, 238 College St., New Haven, Tuesday, March 28, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $27. collegestreetmusichall.com.