Posts Tagged ‘Oregon’

On their third full-length ​”Remembering The Rockets” ​out 26th July through Tiny Engines​, Strange Ranger continue to excel at translating the way intimacy can feel so overwhelmingly gigantic. With a dozen releases across their 10 years as a band, the Philly-via-Portland-via-Montana group, currently featuring Isaac Eiger (guitars, vocals), Fred Nixon (bass, piano, vocals), Nathan Tucker (drums), and Fiona Woodman (vocals), have traversed genres, moods, and textures while maintaining one important throughline: an exploration of closeness.

“Trying to close the distance between yourself and another person and wondering how much can really be done about that gap,” Eiger says. “​Sometimes you don’t want to be close with others but you feel guilty, and sometimes you do but you can’t.”

Eiger, who writes the bulk of Strange Ranger’s lyrics, is a modern master of conveying the anxiety and uncertainty of growing older through a mixture of childhood nostalgia and interpersonal tidbits. There’s plenty of that on ​Remembering The Rockets​, but after all of these years of singing about his own coming-of-age story, the album approaches the quandary of whether he’ll ever be able to impart that process—through which he’s reaped so much artistic joy and curiosity—onto someone else.

“​So much suffering and horror is coming if we don’t seriously restructure our entire society, and I just really hope we get it together. I want to be a dad more than basically anything, and it’s unclear if that’d be an OK decision to make,” he says.

For a topic as severe as ecological collapse affecting his own parental aspirations—as well as other melancholy ruminations on loneliness, the passing of time, and the complications of emotional intimacy—Strange Ranger still ended up making the lushest, smoothest, and most pleasingly hypnotic album of their careers.

“​After making ​Daymoon,​ I think Isaac and myself were both feeling pretty creatively exhausted with the rock band format,” Nixon says. “We wanted the feel of the next record to put you in a trance.”

Opener “Leona” is a celestial pop song with a springy bassline and a shimmering, magical synth effect that dusts over its punchy outro groove. “Nothing Else To Think About” is a bobbing sunset soundtrack with a drum sample that puffs and clacks behind its ASMR-inducing bassline. For “Beneath The Lights,” Eiger pulls out the drawly, prickly croon of a ​Daymoon ​ballad like “Most Perfect Gold of the Century” and then contorts it with warbling, Justin Vernon-esque auto-tune. Ambient interludes like “athens, ga” and “‘02” are void of vocals and “traditional” rock elements altogether.

“It was definitely a learning curve figuring out how to do some of the weirder stuff,” Eiger says. “We’ve been using keyboards for a while now, but before we made this record we got this old Japanese synthesizer [Korg M1] which has like a trillion sounds. So that was a totally different experience.”

“We really didn’t know what we were doing and probably stumbled our way into a bunch of sounds we wouldn’t be able to recreate if we tried,” Nixon adds.

Portland, OR producer Dylan M. Howe was an essential contributor in this regard. Most of the samples and electronic beats were designed with Howe’s assistance, and he helped the band navigate the archaic software of the Korg M1—which was used for nearly every synth sound on the album. For many of the songs, such as “Message To You”, which Fiona Woodman sings the entirety of, the only component the band had going into their home studio was the drum loop. From there, they experimented with different arrangements and benefitted from Nathan Tucker’s versatile drumming abilities to build that song, and many others, outward.

“​I think we’ve always been attracted to music that you can nod your head to, and this time around I think we really tried to emphasize that,” Eiger says.

Tracks like “Pete’s Hill,” “Planes in Front of the Sun” and “Leona” lock into a pleasing breed of entrancing, rhythmic bliss. And they hit with maximum impact every time because they’re tastefully offset by a cheeky alt-country burner like “Ranch Style Home,” or a Lemonheads- esque cruiser like “Sunday.” But like all Strange Ranger albums, the band saved the most emotionally devastating songs for its finale.

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“Living Free” and “Cold Hands Warm Heart” play like they’re in conversation with one another. The former is a synth-soaked reckoning with age (“all the years as blurry cars and trees / screaming right past me”) and purpose (“awkward angels in the snow / what if I just want a family?”). The latter is a sparse, two-and-a-half-minute piano ballad where Eiger acknowledges tepid hope as the only way forward. “Flickers of a world to come / here but lovelier than this one / see it rippling in the river,” he sings with a shaky intonation.

“​The image of a rocket in the sky just feels very beautiful to me and full of possibility,” Eiger says. “If you’re someone who wants to have kids and you decide not to, that kinda feels like folding and just saying, “yeah everything is fucked, there is no future.” And why even live at that point? It sucks that ‘hope’ has—for good reason—become this cheesy, lame idea. But if you’ve got no hope, you’re completely fucked in a situation like this one.”

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The first releases from Filthy Friends, the scorchingly melodic rock group whose membership consists of some of the most original musical voices of the past three decades, came as a small, delightful shock to the system. Not only because of the names associated with the project, including Sleater-Kinney co-founder Corin Tucker, R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck and indie stalwarts Scott McCaughey and Kurt Bloch, but also because of how ably they were able to mesh their individual sounds into a crackling melodic whole on debut album Invitation.

Now, with their follow-up—Emerald Valley, out on Kill Rock Stars on May 3rd—the Friends have proven their collective mettle, crafting a thematic suite of songs that finds the quintet digging deeper into their bag of musical tricks and giving Tucker room to rage about and mourn the fate of our planet and the people who inhabit it.

The core idea came from a demo Buck shared with Tucker for a grinding blues song that eventually turned into this new album’s title track. The minute she heard it, Tucker says, it sparked something within her: “I had this long poem growing in my brain,” she says. “It turned into a sort of manifesto about the kind of place we are at as a country but also as a region. Just taking stock of where we’re at and feeling like I can’t believe we let things get this bad.”

While Emerald Valley starts off with idyllic imagery (“Rolling fields, they speak your name/vibrant green is here again”), the album and its title track slowly reveal the ugly underneath, with human arrogance and hubris hurting the Earth and the people who take on “backbreaking work for little pay.”

From there, the Friends address growing concerns over oil production and distribution (“Pipeline”), gentrification and income inequality within the band’s hometown of Portland, Oregon (“One Flew East”), and taking on the voice of the desperate souls that are getting crushed under the wheels of capitalism (“Last Chance County”). The band paints these themes with many different shades of the rock palette, nestling a snapping punk tune between a bit of jangly pop and an almost-shoegaze ballad, with stops along the way for songs that burn as hot and move as slow as lava and tunes that stay steady and fast as a rocket launch.

Emerald Valley is also a testament the indefatigable spirit of the Filthy Friends themselves. Scott McCaughey bounced back from a stroke he suffered in late 2017, which curtailed the band’s tour plans and is playing with more fire than ever. As well, Corin Tucker and Peter Buck were able to devise some amazing work even as their creative energies were being pulled toward other projects like Arthur Buck and Sleater-Kinney. Too, the band was able to bring a new member into the fold with drummer Linda Pitmon coming on board to replace Bill Rieflin without losing an ounce of their power.

We could all take a lesson from Filthy Friends. As proven by Emerald Valley, when a group of like-minded people gather their individual strengths together and point them toward a singular goal, there’s no telling how powerful they can become and what an impact they can make on the world at large.

Released May 3rd, 2019

We’re releasing a brand new song today to celebrate the announcement of a brand new record called “Me You They We”, out on April 5th! This album is the culmination of an 18 month process of releasing singles as we’ve written them. Please enjoy “Just My Luck”.

It’s the band’s fourth studio album since debut Alright You Restless in 2011, which was followed by Divisionary in 2014 and Something to Ruin in 2016. As with the last two albums, Me You They We is on Partisan Records.

A “statement of purpose” from the band, Me You They We promises to pull no punches and not shy away from confronting our modern state of ennui. The album was recorded largely at Oberdorfer’s home studio, with occasional guest vocals and appearances, including from the band’s newest member, Lizzy Rose Allen. Perry and Oberdorfer describe their latest effort as one benefiting from slow, methodical work and “complete control over the sessions,” free from the chaos of the street. In the end, they hope the album sparks a sense of resilience and hope.

“We just want to make good music,” Oberdorfer says. “And we want to be real with other people who want to be real. We want to challenge ourselves and our friends to break down barriers as much as we can to lead each other back to sanity.”

To that end, we present “Just My Luck,” is a bouncy but slightly macabre sounding track that fills the room with nuanced, ethereal harmonies, spacey keys and the tiniest bit of irresistible xylophone. Perry’s delicate vocal is front and center, but it gets some key support from his compatriots as the song swells to its big conclusion, where crashing cymbals put an exclamation point on the proceedings. Oberdorfer notes that the song proved to be something of a bear in the studio, being “discarded and reinvented” 14 times before the final version came together.

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Band Members
Tim Perry,
Rob Oberdorfer,
Sarah Riddle,
Colin Jenkins,
Annie Bethancourt,

M. Ward is a singer-songwriter and guitarist who rose to prominence in the Portland, Oregon music scene.

2019 release from the acclaimed singer/songwriter, his first studio album since 2016’s More Rain. “What A Wonderful Industry” takes on a subtler shade of music industry beef, writing about the heroes and villains he’s encountered over 20 years.

M. Ward: “This album is a reminder to keep your friends close, your enemies closer and don’t let the ones that just need an extra couple hours of therapy bring you down.” M. Ward’s solo work is a mixture of folk and blues-inspired Americana analog recordings; he has released nine albums since 1999, primarily through independent label Merge Records. In addition to his solo work, he is a member of pop duo She & Him and folk-rock supergroup Monsters of Folk, and also participates in recording, producing, and playing with multiple other artists.

Over the last decade Ward has released a string of acclaimed solo albums, as well as six LPs with Zooey Deschanel in the duo She and Him. Ward is also a member of the group Monsters of Folk alongside My Morning Jacket’s Jim James, Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst, and Mike Mogis, as well as a producer on albums for
Mavis Staples, Jenny Lewis, and Carlos Forster.

Via Ward: “This is a record inspired by people in the industry I have known – heroes and villains in equal measure. There’s some beautiful moments when you travel for a living, and I’m grateful for being part of an industry that’s taken me around the world so many times – but you quickly learn there’s a perfectly imperfect balance of cold-blooded and warm-blooded animals in the zoo. This record visits the most memorable characters. There’s a lot of very inspirational people I’ve had the pleasure to work with but there are also a few I wish I’d never met. It all tragically ends with an imaginary Griffin Mill-
inspired murder ballad. This album is a reminder to keep your friends close, your enemies closer and don’t let the ones that just need an extra couple hours of therapy bring you down. Anyway I hope you like it. All names have been changed to protect the innocent”.

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Strange Ranger (fka Sioux Falls) is a band from Montana, now based out of Philadelphia, PA. in the spirit of the new year, here’s a lil EP comprised of stuff that’s been floating around for a while. we’re trying to tour a lot and do a bunch of cool stuff but our van won’t start (amongst other issues) so basically if you’ve got a bit of change to spare,  It seems Strange Ranger change their sound every year now, it shows how talented Isaac and Fred are that they can write such different music all the time.

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Released December 30th, 2018

Band Members:
Isaac Eiger- Vocals, Guitar, Melodica
Fred Nixon- Bass, Keyboard, Synths
Nathan Tucker- Drums

More superb psychedelic groove rock from Unknown Mortal Orchestra. Sex & Food explores compositional variety and evolving style; from songs that swing and smack to those that simmer and sooth.

Ever since they burst on the scene with blog-favourite ‘Ffunny FFriends’, Unknown Mortal Orchestra have wilfully proved themselves ready to wrong-foot all of us at each turn. Led by New Zealand’s Ruban Nielson, they followed up on that buzzy single with a fully-formed, self-titled debut in 2011 that proved the hype was well placed. Next, ‘II‘, saw them dabble with a mainstream sound while keeping their sound firmly rooted in their scuzzy origins, and 2015’s ‘Multi-Love’ was a glorious psychedelic romp through Prince-tinged pop. It seemed only natural for them to continue boogie-ing towards the dancefloor and build on ‘Multi-Love”s dancier elements.

On their fourth album, ‘Sex & Food’, you’ll be relieved to know that they’re thrown themselves into another bold new direction for a set of fuzzy, funky and fun set of songs that’ll be rattling around your head all summer long. Most notably, on the comforting ‘Honeybee’, Nielson croons a groovy ode to his daughter amid stellar production: “Careful like an orchid / love survives forever / age of paranoia / don’t be such a modern stranger / oh angel.” It may well be the best song they’ve ever done – crafting a tune that’s tender in the right places and a mightily fun summer jam in all the others.

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While that song is as soothing a pair of fresh sheets, ‘Sex & Food’ features some of their trickiest and devilishly heavy work to date elsewhere. ‘Major League Chemicals’ squeals and squirms like Jimi Hendrix conquering Woodstock, and ‘American Guilt’ is a riff-heavy delight, as highly charged as anything by T-Rex or Black Sabbath. ‘Chronos Feasts On His Children’, meanwhile, conjures up images as grizzly as Francisco Goya’s 19th century painting of the ancient figure doing just that – “Chronos feasts on his children / like turning mango flesh.” This album is as lurid and unmissable as the title suggests.

‘Sex & Food’ comes with a handful of missteps, like the forgettable ‘Not In Love Were Just High’ and ‘This Doomsday’ in the album’s final third. But by and large, it sees UMO pushing their sound impressively, bending the rule book as crudely as they can before the spine breaks.

Mimicking Birds have a sound that covers all sorts of genres, ranging from anywhere between stripped down serenades to subtle synth soundscapes. Through these elements, the Portland folk-pop quintet creates something that works for both the coffee shop next door and a movie soundtrack.

In 2014, Mimicking Birds released debut album Eons and proved to the music world that it was an interesting and formidable contender to wrestle with. Through simple strums of a guitar, eloquently woven with singer Nate Lacy’s velvety rasp, the band showed a phenomenal ability to form a beautifully crafted story, both lyrically and sonically. Lacy’s vocals also created an angelic, yet haunting atmosphere comparable to the likes of Bon Iver and James Vincent McMorrow.

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Band Members
Nate Lacy, Aaron Hanson, Adam Trachsel

Released November 22nd, 2018

Floating Room’s sophomore album is stunning at every turn, in both it’s shimmering atmospheres, gentle moments of reflection, and it’s nuance for swarming, muscular, shoegaze done-to-perfection. The Portland quartet navigate heart yearning sentimentality and brawny noise pop in simultaneous bursts, the force of their blanketing guitars only aiding Maya Stoner’s beautiful lyrics and floating melodies. False Baptism is a testament to everything they do so well, balancing blistering leads with dreamy haze, an approach that manages to retain aggression without compromising any of it’s delicate emotional heft. Layering guitars, synths, vibraphones, and beyond, Floating Room’s wall of sound is lush and dense, but light and accessible, the perfect come down to get lost in.

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False Baptism is full of epiphanies: Maybe love shouldn’t make you weak. Maybe the bravest love doesn’t ask you to surrender your whole self. Learning to float is always more difficult than letting yourself fall, but—as Floating Room proves here—there’s tremendous power in doing so.

Released June 22nd, 2018
The Band
Maya Stoner – electric and acoustic guitars, vocals, synths, samples
Kyle Bates – guitar, vocals, synth, sound manipulation, vibraphone
Alec van Staveren – bass, vibraphone
Sonia Weber – drums, percussion

Grouper

Grouper’s Grid of Points is bent toward seeing traditional songwriting forms through the process of careful decomposition. The “ruins” of the album aren’t the semiotic representations of homes and personal spaces of its predecessor, but instead fragmented versions of broader cultural comforts: piano ballads, hymnals, and lullabies, all abbreviated, compressed, or otherwise in a state of decay. Grid of Points sees human memory and emotion tied inextricably to that classical musical framework, and it captures both the wonder those forms evoke and their limitations in equal measure. So ephemeral and haunting, by the time it ends you won’t know if it was something you were listening to, or some long-forgotten memory welling up in your head.

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is the solo project for electro-acoustic ambient/noise musician Liz Harris, of Portland, Oregon.

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It was on September 23rd, 2008 that Blitzen Trapper, after putting out three albums on its own label, released its fourth full-length album, ‘Furr’, via Sub Pop. At that time, it was a record that captured exactly where the band’s frontman, Eric Earley, found himself, both literally and metaphorically, geographically and existentially. Not that the Portland-based musician actually remembers much about the creation of the record’s 13 intriguing, spellbinding songs. Or, more specifically, what its songs actually mean, either now or then. Instead, ‘Furr’, stands as a kind of tribute and elegy to the city that inspired it, but that, a decade later, no longer exists.

“What I was trying to do with those recordings,” explains Earley, “was capture this kind of atmosphere that I was feeling and which pervaded the city at that time. I think I was attempting to capture what Portland was at the time and what it felt like to me. That city is gone now. Old Portland, we call it, but Old Portland has disappeared. But this record gives me the feeling of those times and this city when it was poor and dumpy and really drug-addled. And it also captures the magic of the outlying rural areas that has slowly changed as well.”

That magic can be heard in each of these songs, and while the city may have vanished from sight – replaced by a newer, richer, shinier and bigger version of itself – its elegance and fractured beauty is preserved within the bones of this record. These songs exist as vivid snapshots of that time, ones that recall the city as it was. At the same time – and while Earley insists he was only trying to capture what Portland was at the time – there’s a mythology within the lyrics and the music, an imagined, semi-fictional vision of Portland and the Pacific Northwest, a kind of parallel universe to the one that actually exists. 

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Furr is still my favorite Blitzen Trapper album. The sound they developed for this one was a game changer for them.

released September 14, 2018