Ruban Nielson is Unknown Mortal Orchestra
Ruban Nielson is Unknown Mortal Orchestra

Multi-instrumental frontman/songwriter Ruban Nielson always sounds like he records Unknown Mortal Orchestra albums in a room with hairy shag carpet walls. The ‘70s vintage film of warm fogginess is likely achieved using pedals, filters and other effects on their blend of indie pop and psych rock, Nielson’s silky falsetto injecting hints of austere R&B and soul.

Sex & Love—the 2018 fourth outing from the Portland-by-way-of-Auckland, New Zealand outfit—maintains a sense of positivity and focus on life’s good things while offering abstract commentary on how fucking strange our modern reality has become, from the crunchy, driving rock that is “American Guilt,” (“Land of the expensive / Even the Nazis are crying”), to the mellow heady grooves of “Ministry of Alienation,” (“Amoral but not evil / Sick of fake democracies”). Meanwhile, “Hunnybee” is a love song to his daughter disguised as a loose and yacht-y disco ode (he’s described it as “encoding some sort of fatherly advice for the future version of herself”).

Unknown Mortal Orchestra play Sunday, July 22, 6:30–7:15 pm, on the CHBP Main Stage. Find a complete list of (40) must-see acts here, check out The Stranger's full Capitol Hill Block Party calendar, and see schedules broken up by day—Friday, July 20; Saturday, July 21; and Sunday, July 22. Listen to some Unknown Mortal Orchestra (and peep a few videos) below.

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