Hello! Sometimes we make mistakes (I know, you can't believe it) and forget to write about bands and/or shows that should be written about in the actual Stranger newspaper physical/touchable edition. As captain of the Good Ship Music Section, I apologize. Living in the future over here makes it hard to get show info from venues early enough for print cycles, and bong rips make it hard to read your own "to do" list. Whatever. Cool story.
So! I have two minutes to tell you that you should go see the Woolen Men, Peeping Tomboys, and Lures at Heartland tonight. I'm serious. The Woolen Men were great the last time they were in town; I bought their records, and those were also great. In the Crappening column after that show, I wrote:
"During their set at Heartland, Portland rock trio the Woolen Men broke a guitar string during the second song, then accidentally busted through their kick-drum head with a kick pedal two songs later, before finally snapping a bass string (nearly impossible!) on their second-to-last song. Other than the bad luck, their set was thoroughly enjoyable and included a cover of the Fall's "Psycho Mafia."
I mean, I didn't write that. I don't know who writes that stupid column.
Heartland Gallery, 8pm
This week Summer Cannibals, the groovy Portland outfit that won my heart last year with this album art, will release the Make You Better EP and good news, it is great.
While last year's No Makeup had me dropping a Nancy Sinatra comparison (bold, but I stand by it), Make You Better kicks the go-go boot beats and pairs their fuzzy, dreamy vibes with a bit of a thicker Breeders/Elastica guitar-rock energy. You definitely need to add it to your playlist if you're a fan of La Luz, the Tea Cozies, or feeling cool. I mean, I know I am not cool, but listening to Summer Cannibals makes me like I am cool.
If you like what you hear, you can pre-order the EP here. Who knew being cool only cost $5.99?
Summer Cannibals play Neumos on January 15 with the Thermals and My Goodness. Tickets available here.
This new video from Portland band Lonnie Winn has all the important stuff: Fake ice-cream cones, slow motion, skateboarding, skateboarding in slow motion, and wind-blown hair shots. Enjoy!
"Rally" is off their sweet Beach Rock tape. Unrelated fact: tapes are absolutely the cutest form of audio.
The 3rd annual Closer Electronic Music Festival kicks off this weekend, June 20th – 23rd, in Portland, Oregon. Set in the city center and spread out among Portland’s most crucial venues, the festival has grown in scale and this year’s lineup is bursting with talent from up and down the West Coast and beyond. Techno legend John Tejada headlines, showcasing a full-on hardware live set, while other highlights include Planet E’s Monty Luke, Lars Behrenroth, Masa Ueda, Bryan Zentz, and Seattle’s own J. Alvarez aka 214, to name but a few in the 50+ strong lineup.
Closer will also feature a variety of workshops and panel discussions relating to music production and navigating the industry, as well as a free park party held on Sunday afternoon. If you’re heading down early, be sure to swing by Crush on Thursday, as I (Ctrl_Alt_Dlt) have the honor of playing the kickoff event alongside some of Portland’s finest locals. If last year’s installment is any indication, we’re in for an action-packed and sleepless weekend.
Full event details and schedule at Closerpdx.com
Tickets at http://closerpdx.brownpapertickets.com/
Back in the late '90s, Portland became an unlikely node in the global circuit of dub music. For those not in the know, dub is a derivation of reggae that came into prominence in Jamaica in the mid-'70s, whose key innovative feature at the time was the transformation of a recording studio into an instrument. Over the past four decades, dub (which strips a tune down to the bones of bass and drums, submerging these elements into a twilit sea of echoes) has gone through many mutations (the most recent of which is UK dubstep) and spread to the four corners of the world. The reason why Portland was one such corner is BSI Records, a label that was owned by Ezra Ereckson, Tracy Harrison, and Josh Derry. BSI not only housed and distributed some of the best dub in the business (Henry & Louis, Jah Warrior, Alpha & Omega), but also represented the Northwest's only dub band, Systemwide, and its leading dubmeister, Alter Echo. Things fell apart in 2004 when the collapse of a European distributor left the label with thousands in unpaid debts. The death of the label was terrible news for dub in general and also for Portland, a city that at the time desperately needed more diversity in its music scene.
Late last year, the ghost of BSI rematerialized as ZamZam Sounds—a label run by pretty much the same people (Ereckson and Harrison) that distributes many of the same bands (Alter Echo, Alpha & Omega, Henry & Louis). But this time around, the label is much more of an art project than a straight dub distributor. BSI had the feel of a commercial project, whereas ZamZam has the feel of a gallery whose world-class dubs are packaged in some of the most beautiful covers out there. "At its simplest level," Ereckson wrote to me recently, "ZamZam Sounds really grew out of my wife Tracy's and my desire to make records again. Running BSI Records and doing all the art and design together in the late '90s into the '00s was a colossal amount of work, as in those days we were able to sometimes sell several thousand copies of a release on CD and vinyl. With Josh Derry, aka Alter Echo (and partner Jason Lohr and publicist Ryan Michie), we were building something we actually thought we could make a living at. [When that didn't happen]... it took many years to get over that, both financially and personally. We said many times that we would never get into the label game again."
(Cairo) Brian Mumford's Dragging an Ox Through Water is not your little brother's Americana outfit. The Portland folk freak of nature sounds like he's more enamored of Arthur Russell than Gram Parsons, as he upends rustic folk-rock tropes with unexpected structural fissures and injects textural oddities that blast away the form's ho-hum-iness. He also sings like a bedridden Tim Rutili (of Califone), which may be a taste you can acquire. Marcus Price makes unpredictable, disorienting electronic music that obeys no allegiance to any scenes or conventions, which is why he's one of my favorites in the region. Huge Rock is a new collab between the Numbs and Secret Colors, which portends strange and wonderful things.
(El Corazón) After they've spent 20 years grinding out uncompromising, skull-crushing, Egyptian-themed death metal (though they call North Carolina home), it's safe to say we know what to expect from a Nile show: blast beats, double-necked guitars, skullets, seven-minute songs about mummies, pharaohs, kings, sweatpants, and last but not least, a whole lot of brutality. This time around, there are no touring openers, leaving four empty slots for some of the best local metal bands to showcase the rage—tech-death metallers Bloodhunger, blackened death-dealers Funeral Age, power/thrash metal trio Phalgeron, and Portland's Those Who Lie Beneath. Rip thy bong. Bang thy head. Repeat.
(Comet) I kinda forgot about paying attention to doom metal, until I saw that fucking crazy and amazing documentary Last Days Here, about Pentagram singer Bobby Liebling. Listening to Pentagram got me wanting more, and suddenly, um, HELLO, WITCH MOUNTAIN! The Portland group stands out against their doom brothers Sabbath, Saint Vitus, and Candlemass because their lead singer is a sister, not a brother, named Uta Plotkin. Her voice reminds me of a young Ann Wilson belting out "Barracuda," except Plotkin's is soaring higher and more wildly over some of the heaviest of metals. Also, like all doom, it sounds extra good when you're stoned. Hey, that's legal now here!
Brutal Vaginas: Author Laina Dawes sheds light on being a black female in the metal scene with her new book, What Are You Doing Here?.
Buy, Buy My Darling: The Misfits are releasing a new live album, Dead Alive on February 5th!
Get Your Snark On: New Season of Portlandia starts this Friday!
Punk Money Burning A Hole In Your Pocket?: Good! Cause for $199 you can purchase the new NOFX box set including ALL released material and a pair of Fat Mike's fudge-tracked boxers* (*Fat Mike's fudge-tracked boxers may or may not exist).
Send Your Eardrums to Rehab: You love Motorhead. You love headphones. Then you'll love Motorhead headphones.
Pot Head: Lil Wayne gets the word "BAKED" tattooed on his head. He's just doing what we're all thinking.
I Can't Drive...65!!!: Driving 90mph in a 65mph zone while possessing marijuana doesn't bode well with CHIP. Watch Frank Ocean sweeten the deal with a suspended license.
Trippy Canvas: What can you make out of ink, white-out and, coffee? This psilocybin of a video.
(Josephine) Stockholm has a rabbit problem. The city is so infested that it burns bunnies en masse and uses their cremation to heat the Swedes. Still, the rabbit population survives and thrives. Portland's Rabbits also deserve credit for being fruitful, hardy, and incendiary. They survived the minimal treatment of their debut 2011 album on the stalwart metal label Relapse and came out on the other end with this year's scorching sophomore album, Bites Rites, on Seattle's Good to Die Records. The near-blown guitar speakers and blood-sport drumming of their Sonic Youth homage "Meth Valley 99" is worth the sticker price alone. In other torrid news, pigfuck-rockers Monogamy Party recently opened up their relationship to include former Pleasureboaters guitarist Ricky Claudon. Come see him do it for the first time tonight.
(Tractor) Battleme fact #1: If you watch Sons of Anarchy, you've heard Battleme. The Portland artist (aka Matt Drenik) has had his music featured in several episodes, including his cover of Neil Young's somber "Hey Hey, My My." Battleme fact #2: My surprising appreciation for Battleme is causing a personal crisis. He plays electro-tinged indie-dance songs reminiscent of Ghostland Observatory, and the guy is signed to GO member Thomas Turner's label Trashy Moped (with Turner even producing some of his tunes). But dudes, I DON'T LIKE GHOSTLAND OBSERVATORY! But I like Battleme, so what does that mean?! Thankfully, it's not just cut and paste—for instance, there's a little bit of a Beck quality on the mellow, echoing "Doin' Time in My Head Ain't Cheap" (without the Scientology ties... I think... I hope).
Portland culture don Kenny Fresh has been lowkey holding it down for a minute via his FRSH SLCTS label/blog—and randomly catching up on it, this new release from a PDX producer caught my eye, mostly because his name is Rap Class, and the j-card art has a charmingly 7th-grade pencil rendition of my favorite Big Daddy Kane photo. Turns out dude is part of the Dropping Gems collective that includes Seattle's DJAO and the 503's dope Natasha Kmeto—and this lively instrumental collection, cheekily titled Greatest Hits, is indeed good to the last drop, a charmingly low-rent hiphop whippet rush. I'm fuckin' with it tough, especially "John K" (I'd sorta like to imagine that the "K" is short for Kricfalusi) and it's repurposing of my favorite Slick Rick song.
Divers - "Glass Chimes" (via Rumbletowne Records)
(Rendezvous) Hello, I work here, and I am in one of these bands. Are you okay? Are you still here? Glad we could talk. Now then, Divers are from Portland, and they are rad. SO rad, in fact, that my alternate universe twin, music editor of the Portland Mercury, Ned Lannamann, e-mailed me to say, "Hey YOU, Divers are AWESOME." And I was like, "I KNOW, right?" Then we internet high-fived and music notes shot out of our computers. So there you have it: Two people who talk about music in two free weeklies in two Pacific Northwest cities CAN'T BE WRONG. Divers play big punk rock 'n' roll—suitable for dancing to, sweating to, losing your voice to, and fist-pumping in your white T-shirt like it's the '80s and the Boss is your actual boss and you just got a bonus.
If you find yourself in Portland this weekend, or are there now, head over to Musicfest NW! Great bands! Tax free!
It's Thanksgiving weekend. In honor of gluttony—and after not one but two Thanksgiving dinners—my friend, who we'll call "Dan Kensington," and I rent a car and drive from Seattle to Portland. I'm usually loyal to the foul, retro-cheap The Palms Motel on North Interstate Avenue—but because it's a holiday, I book a room at the stupid-expensive Vintage Plaza downtown. As we turn right on Broadway, we pass Mary's Club, and its neon lights wink at us: blink-blink, blink-blink! Kensington admits he's never been to a strip club in Portland.
Every time I've been to Mary's (the mother of ALL strip clubs since 1965), it's packed—full of rowdy laughter and good-time drunkards. There's a $2 cover at the door and no drink minimum. We sit at the last open table and order two double vodka sodas. The big bearded guy behind us tells a leather-clad hesher that he's in the band Red Fang. The crowd is a mix of mostly twenty- and thirtysomethings, lots of couples. An impossibly tall, classically beautiful woman with a tattoo of cello f-holes on her lower back picks out a hiphop song from the onstage jukebox. Her booty clap is so refined that each one of her round, muscular butt cheeks operates independently. Kensington gasps at her upside-down pole maneuvers. Some guy sitting front stage yells, "It's my birthday!" She leans down, gives him a healthy birthday motorboating with her near-perfect, implant-free double-Ds, and slips off the stage, falling directly on top of him. Boobs still in his face, both fall backward to the floor. With absolute grace, she climbs back onstage. People applaud, nobody laughs, and everyone tips.
Will 2011(ish) be remembered as the golden days of found-footage videos? Obviously, there's a long legacy of music videos that were spliced together from fossicked nuggets of VHS miscellany (and it's a trend I'm guilty of indulging in myself), but I feel like I'm seeing more and more of them crop up with every new day.
Not that that's a bad thing at all.
Take these two new clips, one for Portland duo Chrome Wings' "Sky Mirage," off their upcoming New Lands on AM Discs, which distinguishes itself by featuring multi-instrumentalist Jon Jurow looking like a total chiller:
And this video for White Rainbow's hypnotic "Stark Naked Bluster," directed by Oakland A/V wizard Jib Kidder (who totally gets a pass for nicking the cover artwork from the Oneness Space because True Love Wallpaper is so damn beautiful):
Pickathon runs August 5-7. Could be a good reason to go down and visit our neighbors to the South. Fact: I have never had a bad time in Portland. See more info here.
Experience the 13th Annual Pickathon Indie Roots Music Festival at the amazing 80 Acre festival grounds of Pendarvis Farm on Mt Scott near Portland, OR.
Mavis Staples | Bill Callahan | Lee Fields & The Expressions | Califone | Damien Jurado | Thao | Fruit Bats | Ray Wylie Hubbard | Vetiver | Laura Veirs | Brownout | The Wilders | The Sadies | Richard Swift | Pine Leaf Boys | The Builders and The Butchers | Danny Barnes | Sonny & The Sunsets | Whitey Morgan & The 78's | Mike + Ruthy | Black Lillies | Strand of Oaks | Elliott Brood | Bruce Molsky | Ages and Ages | Joy Kills Sorrow | Charlie Parr | Old Light | Ted Jones and The Tarheel Boys | Buffalo Killers | Pokey LaFarge | Rock Plaza Central | Truckstop Darlin' | Cahalen Morrison & Eli West | Diane Ferlatte
(Keep in mind, this is only a partial list, more bands are expected to be announced closer to the date.)
Tomorrow night, you will experience a part of Sebadoh that you have been pining for. That part that reveals itself to you. Drawing exclusively from Harmacy and Bakesale, there are many moments where you feel like you've been transported to that head space you were in fifteen years ago, the place that you had a hard time letting out your feeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeelings, before you grew some balls and decided to cry at the theater with your girlfriend, and in the bed next to her as you struggled to get it back up.
Sebadoh didn't play "Willing To Wait." I wouldn't have left if they did. But don't worry, dudes. They will still play some rippers (Jason Lowenstein is playing bass, after all... this ain't no Gaffney/Barlow circle jerk). Get ready for the beauty of the ride.
Sebadoh plays Neumos on Saturday, February 12. Open up your heart and let them in.
...Matt King, formerly of Portland's Berbati's Pan.
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