Posts Tagged ‘Oregon’

Did Sleater-Kinney have an identity crisis, or did we? On their ninth record, Sleater-Kinney remain resolutely misunderstood, though they’ve always sounded different from record-to-record. While Sleater-Kinney are a rock band, The Center Won’t Hold isn’t really rock music—the epic scope and industrial aspects of this words-and-mostly-guitarless offering—courtesy, some might say of producer Annie Clark (though who really knows)—have far more in common with stylized art pop than anything in their back catalog. But its aims are grander, as well, and Sleater-Kinney still bring a vibrating desperation and undimmed punk anger to their music in a way that suits our new era of fraying nerves and grinding anxiety. Carrie Brownstein throws off the Hollywood sparks these days, but it’s true believer Corin Tucker whose full heart promises protection from the oncoming terror. “Tell me if you feel like you are lost and alone / I am your friend / You can cover me / Just come over here and give me everything” she sings on “The Future is Here.” Her vocals brim with tenderness and compassion, a motherly bookend to the Tucker of 20 years past, who furiously wailed, “Not what you want? It’s everything!” And everything it remains.

Sleater-Kinney newest album, The Center Won’t Hold, released on August 16th via Mom + Pop Records. The song from it, “Can I Go On,” via a lyric video. It comes accompanied by the band’s press photo as a duo (Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker) in the wake of drummer Janet Weiss unexpectedly announcing at the start of the month that she was leaving Sleater-Kinney only a month and a half before their new album is to be released.

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Brownstein had this to say about “Can I Go On” in a press release: “In this song, a woman’s desire is used against her, so she turns it into a sinister infectiousness. The narrator finds herself on the brink of self-annihilation, grappling with the paradox of an internal darkness at odds with the pressure to outwardly perform modes of joy, relatability, and likability.”

In a previous press release Brownstein also had this to say about recording the album: “Instead of just going into the studio to document what we’d done, we were going in to explore and to find the essence of something. To dig in deeper. It felt like a really crucial part of the process itself, not just the end game.”

The Center Won’t Hold finds the band experimenting with a slightly more polished sound, thanks to producer St. Vincent (aka Annie Clark), and on a new label in Mom + Pop. Prior to the announcement of The Center Won’t Hold, Sleater-Kinney shared the album’s first single “Hurry On Home” via a Miranda July-directed lyric video for the track . When the album was announced they shared its second single, “The Future Is Here,” Then they stopped by The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon to perform “Hurry On Home,” in what might be Weiss‘ last public performance with the band. Then they shared the album’s title track, “The Center Won’t Hold”.

Produced and recorded by Ripley Johnson (Wooden Shjips, Moon Duo), and mixed by Chris Cohen (Captured Tracks, Deerhoof), the album finds its niche in the hazy sonic landscape of private press country and psych records, and alongside artists like Relatively Clean Rivers, Jim Sullivan, Kenny Knight, and countless other explorers of the pastoral underground.

The band was aiming to capture a timeless, natural sound, not quite of the present, past, or future, but phasing in between the consciousness of now and the stoned dream-state of the eternal. Sort of a back porch jam just as the shrooms are starting to kick in. Handmade and human, but also cosmic and transcendental. The goal is to let the music speak for itself and hopefully find a weird and wonderful audience somewhere out there.

Rose City Band cling to the notion that they’re trying to find peace, perhaps even salvation through their songs, all delivered with a beautiful sense of melancholy and endless euphoria.

Folk rock with a Moon Duo infusion creating a dreamy soundscape that grips the listener and carries them away.

Traveling down the same mellow cosmic path as Wooden Shjips, yet with a bit more structure and the feel of rambling 70’s stoner rock, Rose City Band amble on in with a brilliant new offering of intoxicating slow-motion songs that drip like golden amber in the morning sun, warm and comfortable, never straying from their simple melodies of pastoral delight.

The Shivas are a rock and roll band from Portland, Oregon formed in 2006. In the years since forming they have brought their raucous dance party to almost all 50 states, and over 25 countries worldwide, meanwhile releasing five full-length albums and three EPs on labels such as Tender Loving Empire, K, and Burger Records.

“Better Off Dead” is The Shivas 5th studio album and was recorded in January of 2015 at Dub Narcotic Studio in Olympia, Washington.
The Band
Jared Molyneux – Vocals, Guitar, Piano, Organ
Eric Shanafelt – Vocals, Bass Guitar
Kristin Leonard – Vocals, Drums
Ian Hartley – Vocals, Percussion
Originally released February 19th, 2016

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.”

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