Yours Truly
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Yours Truly

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States | SELF

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States | SELF
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Following stints as Portis Project and penning tunes for major-label artists, Pittsburgh-based singer-songwriter Justin Portis is back with Yours Truly, a trio that features drummer Eric Downs and well-known area producer and bassist DJ Huggy. The resulting five-track EP, The Colorage, offers complex pop rock with taut rhythms that highlights Portis' smooth, melismatic tenor and prodigious guitar skills.

The CD kicks off with the horns-driven rocker "The Crown," followed by the syncopated guitars and Coheed-ish vocal harmonies of "Last Chance," both upbeat chronicles of attempts to woo a girl, with Downs tickling the hi-hats a la Stewart Copeland. The disc closes with "Don't Look Down," which packs a triumphant Foo Fighters vibe and ends with some post-grunge guitar shred.

Track three, "She Taps for Tips," is the pleasantly weird one, opening with finger-picked electric guitar and high vocals that hint a Jeff Buckley influence. Once the verse comes in, that influence seems to morph toward the ballads of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, with dry, funky guitars and Portis' voice evoking Anthony Keidis and Thom Yorke.

Portis' fiery, almost Latin-sounding leads are a frequent feature, such as the blazin' solo on "In the Friscalating Dusklight"; if you're one of those who thinks even the Ramones overplay at times, you'll find The Colorage a bit of a muso wank. But while the musicianship is impressive -- and they seem cool with you knowing that -- it's hardly excessive, and Yours Truly's groovy modern rock should find an appreciative audience among musicians and non-musicians alike. - Aaron Jentzen, Pittsburgh City Paper


Since forming just over a year ago, the emo-pop trio Yours Truly has put together an impressive set of credentials and a calendar of big upcoming shows that are worth taking note of. The group recently won a battle of the bands to appear at last week’s Sardonyx Music Conference, and they will be headlining City Paper’s Sip in Style event at South Side Works later this month.

Listening to their EP The Colorage, released in April, it’s clear how they have achieved mass appeal. The disc contains five tracks, three of which are frenetic, guitar-driven pop-rock songs along the lines of Fall Out Boy or Progress-era RX Bandits. “The Crown” begins with a shape-shifting guitar riff set against a rocking horn line — foretelling the fourth wave of ska, perhaps. Later, as the mood dissolves into a palm muted confessional, we learn that the horn is for celebration: the boy has won the girl.

Songwriter/guitarist Justin Portis sings about girls (always about girls) with boyish seriousness, in melodic turns familiar in funk and soul, and popularized in this genre by the likes of Adam Levine, of Maroon 5.

“Last Chance,” like the single, “Don’t Look Down,” aims straight for the heart of the girl and the rock charts, and there’s no reason these songs won’t be a good fit in either. But they’re not the band’s best effort. “She Taps for Tips” is a bit too slow to lead off the EP and a bit too long to be the single, but it’s the grandest track of them all. The tune builds symphonically from a cleanly-picked introduction, through the best melodic innovations on the album, and into a large-scale, flashy, shimmering chorus. The song’s playful development is full of false starts and evolving motifs, and is rewarding, even on repeat listens.

Later on the album, Portis dramatizes a moment of insecurity on “In The Friscalating Dusklight”:

I’m not as perfect as I thought
But I’ll give it everything I’ve got.

They’re interesting lyrics coming from a band who makes it a special point of affirming transparency and honesty in their art. Portis is singing about girls, but he could be singing about the album, too.

Incidentally, the title of the song comes from a scene in The Royal Tenenbaums in which Owen Wilson’s character is offended by a review of his latest novel. “Why would a reviewer make the point of saying someone’s not a genius? Do you especially think I’m not a genius?” Wilson asks in the film.

Well, we feel pretty comfortable saying this record is nothing as rare as genius. But it is a very fine work of music-making that reflects all the effort put into it. It will find plenty of fans who will be enamored by its pep and its honesty and its glimmering production value. It will be a hit with a lot of people. We’re so sure, we didn’t even have to think about it. - Matthew Stoff (BurghSounds.com)


Twelve seconds into The Colorage, a trumpet caps off the end of an crescendo guitar run, practically announcing the arrival of a talented new alt-rock band from Pittsburgh, PA. And while the five-song EP from Yours Truly isn’t completely flawless, bigger bands have professionally produced worse LPs than this young trio from the Steel City. This is indicative of either the current music scene’s tolerance for banality, Yours Truly’s promising chemistry, or both.

Singer Justin Portis fronts the group with vocals and works the progressive guitar rhythms that give the songs their signature intensity. Portis proves himself to be a potent lyricist, crafting poetic language in melodic form that’s both catchy and thought-provoking. The single best exemplar for this is the alliterative “She taps for tips on tabletops” in the album’s fourth track by the same name, although snippets litter the EP all along the way. At the same time, Portis has good vocal range that he employs well, if uncertainly at times, especially in the soft beginning of “In the Friscalating Dusklight.”

The album’s best track – if one could be named, as they all sit on pretty equal footing – is “Don’t Look Down.” It possesses the right mix of energy, drama and accessibility. It’s not your run-of-the-mill radio single, but it is easy enough to sing along with that you might find yourself doing just that hours after you’re done spinning the record. If nothing else, “Don’t Look Down” exists as a great introduction to the Yours Truly sound, despite the fact that the band placed it last in the track lineup.

The group’s respective creative talents are well-matched, with verdant drummer Eric Downs supplying the beats and Pittsburgh-famed producer DJ Huggy on bass. Downs isn’t satisfied with simple variations of quarter-beat patterns when he can do something more intricate, most likely a result of his college jazz background (note the opening to “Last Chance”). Huggy provides a solid basement for the songs to rest upon, one without which Portis’s flying guitar solos would seem limp, but also stands on his own as a natural with bass rhythms that dip and dance about (again, note “Last Chance”).

Where the band stumbles is, paradoxically enough, its ambitious experimentation. While it gets kudos for trying things other young bands wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole, at first some things feel forced and disrupt the flow of an otherwise smooth song. “Don’t Look Down” offers doubled-up guitar notes as a Hail Mary at the end that aren’t needed; certain vocal work throughout the album goes in one direction when you expect it to go in another, which is slightly counter-intuitive. The kinks, however, are nothing that can’t be worked out as the group’s chemistry matures, and it must be said the addition of the aforementioned horn work on “The Crown” was a touch of genius.

In all, The Colorage is a solid debut from a young band that, given time to marinate in its own creative juices a bit more, can only get better. Let’s just hope the current rock scene wakes up from its Nickelback-induced coma to take notice.

7.0/10.0

RIYL: Incubus, Mutemath, Foo Fighters, Audioslave, 311, Slightly Stoopid, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Silverchair, Matthew Good, CAKE, Jane’s Addiction, Weezer, Third Eye Blind, Muse, Faith No More, Placebo - Colleen Seidel (ObscureSound.com)


It’s always nice for your site to be described by people as ‘a promising channel for potential exposure’, which is exactly what Eric Downs of Yours Truly described Outsider Vocals as.
Yours Truly describe themselves as ‘a progressive pop rock band…likened to an even blend between Incubus, Radiohead, and the Foo Fighters, and acclaimed for the “bigger-than-three” sound that they produce.
In April of 2010, Yours Truly released its debut EP, The Colorage…summoning influences ranging from Jeff Buckley to the Mars Volta and from The Police to Fall Out Boy.’
If I had to categorize Yours Truly, I would say that they are definitely an indie band, bringing together a lot of different styles in their music (as referenced above).
The beginning of ‘The Crown’ (embedded below) almost has an upbeat Arcade Fire vibe to it -- it made me think of AF’s song ‘Rebellion.’
The third track, ‘She Taps for Tips’, slows it down a bit; followed by ‘In the Friscilating Dusklight’, which definitely shows the Incubus influence the band has. The song is structured/sung very much like Brandon Boyd would compose a song; having both the very mellow parts as well as the bigger choruses.
‘Don’t Look Down’ could definitely be a collaboration between The Police and Mars Volta -- The Police taking care of the choruses and Mars Volta taking care of some of the guitar work in the verses.
Another part of the bio says that these are great songs for people who want something upbeat but are tired of being force-fed the songs that MTV has in constant rotation. I would definitely agree with that statement -- the songs are catchy enough for mainstream airplay, but absolutely not anything that you would hear Miley Cyrus singing (luckily).
At the end of the bio sheet the band sent me, it says ‘So no matter who you are, go ahead -- put “The Colorage” into your stereo and please…enjoy.’
We sure will. - OutsiderVocals.com


Discography

the Colorage (EP)
- The Crown
- Last Chance
- She Taps for Tips
- In the Friscalating Dusklight
- Don't Look Down

Photos

Bio

Yours Truly was born in March of 2009 when songwriting guru, Justin Portis, sought to form a band based on a profound concept in the music business today - Honesty. Having spent years cutting his teeth in the dog-eat-dog music scene of New York as a writer for Universal Records, he set his sights high and scoured the Pittsburgh music scene for some worthy troops, finally finding DJ Huggy (esteemed bassist/producer for artists such as Wiz Khalifa, Charon Don, et al), and young up-and-coming drummer, Eric Downs. Together, the trio has received acclaim for the large sound that they produce from only three members, but it is what is behind this sound that they truly value.

In an age where record sales oust artist integrity and where a band's haircut means more than their message, Yours Truly delivers pure, unadulterated, marketing-free music. Whether it is through Portis' captivating voice, Huggy's intuitively entrancing basslines, or Downs' ambitious drumming, the band will always push to deliver integrity and sincerity to their listeners, combining songwriting sensibility, musical precision, and the ability to throw a twist or two your way, offering a little something for everyone.

So to all our fans out there, current and soon-to-be, we have nothing to hide from you. We are here to deliver ourselves to you, sincerely. Everything that we have to offer you is...Yours Truly.