Posts Tagged ‘Portland’

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.

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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

NEW-Hooray-For-Tuesday-Audio-CD

Portland-based popsters The Minders began their existence two decades ago in Denver, aided in the studio by Apples In Stereo leader Robert Schneider and skirting the outer rings of The Elephant 6 Collective that begat Neutral Milk Hotel. While lead Minder Martyn Leaper shared a lot of the same ‘60s loving DNA with those groups, he had a firmer grasp on the particulars that most with the help of his perfectly tart vocals and knack for an instant earworm hook. With the rights to the first Minders album back in his control, Leaper is re-releasing Hooray For Tuesday for the first time on vinyl with the addition two unheard versions of the title track: a re-recording by the current iteration of the band and a demo from 1996. The woozy, candyfloss spirit of this music still sounds like lost broadcasts from the bubblegum pop era, a sensation amplified through it being pressed to wax. The bonus cuts suffer a bit as the second side of my copy was cut a little off-center so they sound too warped to really enjoy. Until that point, the music offers nothing but pure delight.

Early critical success and productivity from the band, who relocated to Portland in the late ‘90s, would give way to an eight-year dry spell that almost signaled the end of the project. Unfazed, Leaper eventually pushed through that dark period and has continued to write and record vital music, with 2016’s “Into The River” re-establishing the band as one of Portland’s most influential acts

From HOORAY FOR TUESDAY © 1998 spinART records

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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

After coming home fired up from their 2017 tours (which included UK/Euro/US dates with Drive-By Truckers, Dream Syndicate, Fruit Bats, The Cribs) Eyelids headed into various studios in Portland to finish up work on a new batch of songs they had been working on. They ended up with a perfect combination of the lilting, powerful hooks of their recent Peter Buck produced album “or” alongside the spookier, more meditative moments from their debut album “854”. Oh and they added in a fiery rendition of The Gun Club’s “Sex Beat” (with Scott and Peter of R.E.M. throwing down alongside them) just to hammer the point home. Now Eyelids could always write a earworm of a song (which is why “or” ended up many best of 2017 lists) and from the minute the needle hits this vinyl there it is again. With its rolling and intricate jangle Eyelids (like XTC, R.E.M. and The Byrds–their three biggest comparisons from the press) make their three distinct personalities/guitars become an amazingly powerful whole.

Sonically there is a new layer to their sound. Guitars flutter and dive; strings and harmonies collide. From the beautiful opening chords of “Maybe More” to the screams of their cover of Gun Club’s “Sex Beat” this is their most diverse offering yet. The tipped over folk of “Cannon & Dee” with its lush harmonies and the harsh melancholy of “Masterpiece (Wanna Die)” make for an emotional ride. Flip the record over and you’ll discover a newly remastered live Eyelids performance from last year at the legendary Monty Hall (which is run by the equally legendary station WFMU). The show was a mess of great songs, crazed banter, special guests and features highlights from many of the last 9 (!) releases the band has put forth into the world over the last 4 years. Eyelids are getting ready for more touring and recording in 2019, in the meantime we invite you to let this sonic celebration of where Eyelids are at and what they are moving towards sink in!

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Releases September 14th, 2018
Produced by Peter Buck & Eyelids

shipping out on or around September 13th, 2018 Limited Edition of 300 units only

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As elder statesmen in Portland’s music scene, long-running post-punk trio Woolen Men have seen the boom-and-bust genre cycle more times than they care to remember. But one era, in particular, stands out in drummer and songwriter Raf Spielman’s mind as pivotal to the band’s creative journey.

“It’s interesting being in Pacific Northwest. We were around when Naomi Punk showed up and all of a sudden everyone was doing the grunge thing again. We didn’t go that route, and it passed very fast,” he says. “That was when we were like, ‘We don’t have to do any of this stuff. It doesn’t matter. We can do whatever we want.’”

Making the music they want without consideration of what might sell or what’s popular at the moment is central to Woolen Men’s DNA. In the decade that Spielman, guitarist Alex Geddes, and bassist Lawton Browning have played together as Woolen Men 2018 marks exactly 10 years for the trio—they’ve doggedly remained committed to the DIY punk ethos that pre-dates the transmogrification of “indie music” from a lifestyle to a sound, while quietly amassing a discography of sterling releases on a jumble of formats that show a band crafting an oeuvre of what might once have been called “college rock”: intelligent, tuneful guitar rock with a streak of punk rock grit underneath the hooks.

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They also released the decade’s best political post-punk record years before the term “angular guitars” started showing up regularly in the music press again: 2015’s instantly classic Temporary Monument(this isn’t hyperbole—go listen to it).

If Temporary Monument had been released today, its jangle-brushed post-punk sound and cutting lyrical dissections of gentrification, economic inequality, and the transformation of their native Portland into “a city full of ghosts,” as Browning sings on the record’s title track, might’ve made a bigger impact in a musical climate more inclined towards both post-punk and unambiguous political messaging than in the late Obama years. But Woolen Men have always been slightly ahead of their time, mostly because they’re uninterested in making anything other than what they want to make at any given moment.

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“We’ve never really made any concessions to the small changes that might make our music more appealing,” says Spielman. “This new record is a really good example of having made a pretty heavily post-punk-influenced record previously when very few people were interested in that sound, and now that sound, at least here in Portland, is very prevalent. If we wanted to keep people’s attention in that way, we could’ve made Temporary Monument 2. But we’re not interested.”

Their new record is called Post, which may or may not be a play on the prefix “post” as in “post-post-punk” (the band declines to confirm or deny this interpretation), but certainly showcases a band that’s post-giving-a-shit about pleasing anyone but themselves when it comes to the music they make together. Though not worlds away sonically from Temporary Monument Woolen Men will probably always best be described as a minimalist post-punk band with a scoop of early R.E.M.—Post finds the band making fearless musical choices, such as dropping a seven-minute long Arthur Russell-inspired track (“Amateur”) early on side one. It’s “about somebody who made a music they wanted to make their whole life and didn’t make any compromises,” explains Browning, which is a good way to sum up the career of “a band that has always been about doing what we want,” according to Geddes.

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While maintaining artistic purity makes for interesting records, it can present a challenge when building an audience. As Browning puts it, “I do feel like there’s a lot of love for Woolen Men in weird corners of the nation, but I don’t know if the kids ever really ‘discovered’ us. The people who buy our records are mostly people who are in families. It’s like they’re happy someone is still doing what they remember bands being about in the early ’80s.”

Releases September 1st, 2018

Raf Spielman – Drums
Alex Geddes – Bass
Lawton Browning – Guitar

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On October 12th, 2018, Sub Pop will reissue The Helio Sequence’s landmark album Keep Your Eyes Aheadfor its 10th anniversary as a deluxe edition.The newly remastered set will be available on CD/2xLP/DL and includes the original 10-song effort along with a second album of demos, alternate versions, and outtakes from the same era. Keep Your Eyes Ahead: Deluxe Edition was mastered by The Helio Sequence at Helio Sound studio in their hometown of Portland, Oregon.

Deluxe Edition of Keep Your Eyes Ahead (Release date: October 12, 2018)

Upon its release in 2008, the record was warmly received from critics and fans alike. It was named one of the “Top 25 Albums of 2008,” ,Keep Your Eyes Aheadis a shining example of how to go retro while still moving forward.” Washington Post offered this, “Trading its former album’s dense keyboard compositions for a more expansive and organic sound, Keep Your Eyes Aheadis the work of a band commanding its audience’s attention. Stand out tracks like “Hallelujah” and “Can’t Say No” show the band flexing its melodic muscles, branching out into grandiose guitar rock territory without sacrificing the nuance and keyboard flourishes of its early work.”

Snow Roller are an indie garage rock band from Portland. We were big fans of their anthemic debut LP, 2016’s What’s The Score, as well as last year’s follow-up XXL. They will soon release their third album Y2K, and this week they dropped a fantastic new single called “Bus 23.”

Coming off the heals of “Kings of Hartford,” the album’s sweeping first single, “Bus 23” is a steady uptempo rocker featuring rollicking guitar riffs and singer Collin Kritz’s direct, assured vocals. Meanwhile, Snow Roller’s newest member, bassist Sarah Hall, harmonizes beautifully with Kritz over the track’s catchy, heartfelt choruses. The song reminisces about a childhood friend who Collin lost contact with, and wonders whatever became of him. “Tried to say that I’m sorry to him but/ He wouldn’t accept it,” they croon together, pangs of regret and nostalgia seeping through in each vivid lyrical line. Also, the closing section of the track reaches a dramatic, stripped-down breakdown in which Hall and Kritz trade off the lines: “I wonder if I’ll ever see him/ I wonder if I’ll ever see him ever again.” It’s a cathartic conclusion to a single that waxes nostalgic on the embarrassments of youth, and a total triumph for Snow Roller.

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Collin Kritz-Guitar, Vox
Sarah Hall-Bass, Vox
Nathan Tucker-Drums

Y2K comes out on September 28th on Near Mint/Slang Church. listen to “Bus 23” and previous single “Kings of Hartford” 

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One of Portland’s finest, Woolen Men are back with a new record, and a reminder that their blend of dusty indie rock and post-punk is as good as it gets. It’s been three years since the trio released the spectacular Temporary Monument and the subsequentOptions EP(as well as last year’s tour tape collection Lucky Box), and the return is more than welcome. Post, due out September 1st via Dogs Table Records, is a reflection of a post-everything mentality, and judging by the first single, one of our most anticipated album’s this year .

“Brick Horizon,” the album’s opener is built on a krautrock rhythm, grooving with razor sharp propulsion. The band continue to blend motorik rigidness with twangy fuzz, an offsetting feeling that they’ve mastered over the years. The vocals add a casually human element to their rumbling onslaught, singing “there’s no escaping the rust, surrender to it” void of emotion, but not without feeling. The pulse never shifts, but Woolen Men colour it with melodic nuances, pulling elements from garage and folk in equal measure, reshaping their influences into their own widescreen punk. Woolen Men are a national treasure, and with an upcoming European tour this September together with Honey Bucket, they are soon to be an international treasure.

Attention European bookers, the band are coming over… now it’s just a matter of bringing them to your town, get in touch at jorge@wearehellyeah.com.

I haven’t been this excited about an album in a long time. “Brick Horizon” is a perfect song. Can’t wait to hear the rest!

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The Band:
Raf Spielman – Drums
Alex Geddes – Bass
Lawton Browning – Guitar
New Woolen Men Record from on Dog’s Table. 
Releases September 1st, 2018