Posts Tagged ‘Portland’

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It is impossible to talk about modern psychedelic music without mentioning Ripley Johnson. As bandleader of Wooden Shjips and one half of Moon Duo, Johnson has continually charted new cosmic paths that expand on the language of the genre. With Rose City Band, Johnson’s songwriting and beautiful guitar lines take center stage, the veil of psychedelia notably drawn back. While his vocal treatment would be recognizable to any Wooden Shjips fan, the sparseness of the instrumentation lays bare the beauty of his writing. Shimmering guitar lines are free to shine, buoyed by driving rhythms. New to the mix are arrangements and instruments drawn directly from classic country, resulting in songs with more than a hint of twang.

Rose City Band started purely as a recording project, with Johnson’s role mostly obscured for the self-titled debut album. Released with no promotion, in the style of private press records, it was a liberating act, a focus on music without any expectations. Explaining it with a chuckle, Johnson elaborates, “I always would threaten to my friends that I’m gonna start a country rock band so I can retire and just play down at the pub every Thursday night during happy hour. I love being able to tour and travel, but I also like the idea of having a local band … more of a social music experience.” Freedom from expectation and obligation gave Johnson the space to experiment with new instrumentation and arrangements. The introduction of lap steel, mandolin, and jaw harp enhance Johnson’s lean guitar work with radiant overtones, Work on the album began at Johnson’s home studio in Portland during the summer, but, interrupted by touring.

The album is described this way by producer Ripley Johnson: “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.
It’s psych rock, and difficult to describe without getting poetic; dreamy and insular, it’s easy to get lost in this album. Produced and recorded by Ripley Johnson (Moon Duo, Wooden Shjips), 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.

Buoyant and joyous, this is a captivating listen that leaves the listener yearning for more. The record is an ode to freedom, born of a musician stepping out of all routines and whose own liberation is communicated so completely in his music. in its entirety, is an emphatic statement on the songwriting power of Ripley Johnson. Johnson’s joy in every aspect of this album is delightfully infectious.

Releases May 15th, 2020

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Portland band Lithics are back with “Tower of Age”, their first record for Trouble In Mind which will be out June 5th. Excellent first single “Hands” stays tightly coiled for most of it’s existence, though it unleashes some serious noise when you least expect it. After introducing themselves to the world with 2016’s “Borrowed Floors” (Water Wing) and throwing down the gauntlet with 2018’s “Mating Surfaces” on Kill Rock Stars, Lithics make the jump to Trouble In Mind for “Tower of Age”.

“Tower of Age” bristles with invention, wedging lyrical Dadaism into right angles of rhythmic minimalism. This is music in ellipses. A circular communication and a fusion of decades worth of musical insight into a singular refraction of thought & sound. Guitars plunk and scratch, and rhythms pulse and syncopate tightly wound around an imagist’s philosophy to “use absolutely no word that does not contribute to the presentation.” The band’s austere approach to composition and wordplay elevates them above and beyond bands seeking similar sounds; it’s not that they use less; it’s How they use less.

Aubrey Hornor: Guitar, vocals Bob Desaulniers: Bass, guitar, tape loops Wiley Hickson: drums Mason Crumley: Guitar

Taken from the Portland band’s third album, “Tower of Age”, out June 5th, 2020 via Trouble In Mind Records (www.troubleinmindrecs.com)

New project from Ripley from Wooden Ships / Moon Duo. Jean Sandwich Records is pleased to announce the first, self-titled, album from Oregon’s Rose City Band. Born of the back roads, rivers, and quiet city streets of Oregon, the music captures the feeling of living and loving, riding and crashing and being, in the Pacific Northwest, circa 2019. It’s the sound of Sunday morning strums and Saturday night choogle.

Produced and recorded by Ripley Johnson in Portland, and mixed by Chris Cohen, 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

Rose City Band, led by Erik “Ripley” Johnson of Wooden Shjips, excels in reproducing for his own composition, seven wide open easy-going tracks as close to instrumental were it not for the whispering lyrics punctuated by Neil Young harmonica solos or downright ethereal guitar lines- cooing your mind to the waving lengths of ceiling textures and wallpaper patterns.

Jean Sandwich Records is pleased to announce the first, self-titled, album from Oregon’s Rose City Band, along with the album’s first single, “Rip City,”  Born of the back roads, rivers, and quiet city streets of Oregon, the music captures the feeling of living and loving, riding and crashing and being, in the Pacific Northwest, circa 2019. It’s the sound of Sunday morning strums and Saturday night choogle.

Ripley describes the album this way:
“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. But the goal is to let the music speak for itself and hopefully find a weird and wonderful audience somewhere out there.”

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Released May 24th, 2019

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Closer To Grey is the new album from Portland’s Chromatics. Closer To Grey is the first album the band released since 2012. Amongst others, it contains reverent cover versions of Simon and Garfunkel’s The Sound Of Silence or Jesus And Mary Chain’s On The Wall. The minimalistic Synth-Sound of previous albums is not lost though, and singer Ruth Radelet proves once again how tender and at the same time powerful a voice can sound.

Chromatics are no strangers to pulsating synths and electronic melodies, all wrapped around with lead singer’s Ruth Radelet’s dulcet tones. With their latest single “Toy,” the band further embraces their danceable and intoxicating sound by diving into a cinematic exploration of forgetting those who hurt you, despite possessing strong feelings of love towards them. Keyboard strokes and bustling drum machine beats all coalesce into a shimmering listening experience that fits perfectly for those late-night stargazing and introspective moments.

 

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Black Belt Eagle Scout; the moniker of Portland-based multi-instrumentalist Katherine Paul released an excellent  album titled “At the Party With My Brown Friends” in 2019. That seemed to get lost in the shuffle with all the other things in life, etc. After seeing it pop on a number of year-end lists and she really is something special. She’s heading out on a North American and European tour this year and has released an excellent video for I Said I Wouldn’t Write This Song

Its animated video was edited and directed by Chantal Jung (Inujuk Nunatsiavutimi), and is meant to raise awareness of the Alaskan coastline and its deep connection with Indigenous people and animals. “The video features Northern imagery that shows aspects of Inuit life, including cloudberry picking, animal relatives and Arctic landscapes,” describes Jung. “People often forget that our livelihoods are extremely connected to the environment, including the animals and plants that live among us. This video is meant to bring awareness of the land, the animals and the people who protect the land.”

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.”

Joseph Announce New Album <i>Good Luck, Kid</i>, Share Honest First Single

Portland-born sisters and folk-pop harmony-makers Joseph are back after a three-year hiatus.

The band announced their third studio LP and second for ATO Records, Good Luck, Kid, is due out September. 13th. The news arrives with a fortified new single, “Fighter” . As ever, Natalie Schepman and her sisters Allison and Meegan Closner use harmony like an emotional conveyor belt, packaging their feelings up and pushing them out into the world through a warm vocal connection that could only be made by siblings. But “Fighter” is bigger and more anthemic than the often-subdued folk of their previous releases, especially their 2014 debut Native Dreamer Kin and 2017 EP Stay Awake. “Fighter” sounds like a loud-and-proud pop song in the vein of Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger,” but it’s actually a chronicle of inter-band struggles.

“The song’s about how our band almost broke up,” Natalie said. “It’s the story of the three of us wanting different things and dealing with that conflict, and eventually deciding to just keep going.”

While they’re embracing a more vigorous sound here, Natalie, Allison and Meegan are no strangers to pop. “White Flag,” from their 2016 album, is a catchy battle cry that would’ve fit right in on alternative radio. On Good Luck Kid, the band explore both sonic and personal change, as Natalie explains:

The through-line of the album is this idea of moving into the driver’s seat of your own life—recognizing that you’re an adult now, and everything’s up to you from this moment on. You’re not completely sure of how to get where you need to go, and you don’t have any kind of a map to help you. It’s just the universe looking down on you like, “Good luck, kid.”