Starting off strong with bangers like “Math SOS,” “Do Your Math,” (written by Jordan Vale in his days with avant garde rock group, Kulululu) and “Learn Math Do Crime,” this release is an eclectic, catchy new ride from the familiar Math Class we know and love. While most of Vale’s music is admittedly made to be silly, this time there are a couple of songs—specifically “Scrollin’” and “Addicted To You”—that take on a more intentional tone. These tracks offer light-hearted commentary about what it means to be a human—or a working artist—with the pervasive social distractions of the modern world.
“All of that was really sincere,” reveals Vale. “And I don’t want to add to it by just making more content … it’s a really weird conundrum. And yeah, all my friends are dealing with that.”
“We Can Help You Out” demonstrates a pivot towards the band morphing into a collective of roving members, with ‘Mr. Vale’ front and center. The album features local community figures such as (and not limited to) Plastic Cactus bandmates Brooke Metropulos and Michaela Gradstein on vocals; Nick Hamel providing scene-setting guitar licks; local legend Nicole McCabe (who now resides in LA) on sax and flute; admired percussionist, Virginia Lopez (featured on Disco Dan); and the genius production chops of Cam Spies (Night Heron) to tie it all together.
To sweeten the deal, the ten tracks culminate in an ode to one of Vale’s long-time Portland friends—KMHD jazz radio host, Isabel Zacharias—and her show “Takin’ Off.” It’s a “relentlessly positive” song about a relentlessly positive person, also heavily showcasing Zacharias’ favorite saxophonist “of all time,” none other than McCabe. This album is basically a funky, jazzy, lovefest and everyone is invited.
The release was made possible in part by the Regional Arts & Culture Council’s Make/Learn/Build grant program. Vale applied for the funds, remembering having read somewhere, “you can’t wait on that stuff, you just have to do it.” He assembled a pitch about how the album was being made by and for the community, as well as how almost everyone has feelings, be them good or bad, about math. The council selected Vale’s pitch and consequently he was able to reimburse the artists he features for their contributions to the album.
“I loved making the music,” he explains. “Working with Cam Spies was amazing. I’m just super thankful and I hope that people check it out and have some fun.”
Although the album went live in early April, the Math Class’ release show had to be rescheduled due to a positive test result for COVID upon returning home from tour with Roselit Bone. “I was really sad after having to postpone that,” recounts Vale.
You can help support the band in celebrating their new release on the newly scheduled date of Monday, May 23, at ShowBar inside of Rev Hall, with friends !mindparade opening the evening. Doors are at 730, show is at 830; $12.