Posts Tagged ‘Portland’

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.”

Kyle Craft & Showboat Honey has shared a very sweet video for “Deathwish Blue,” a highlight from Showboat Honey, the group’s forthcoming album, out July 12th worldwide from Sub Pop Reords and directed by Eleanor Petry .

Craft had this to say of the visual, “I can’t dance and my fiancée Lydia isn’t the biggest fan of it either…we’d actually never danced together before the shoot. We wanted to have fun and aim for a Pulp Fiction vibe. So, I just slicked back the mop, cranked Spirit in the Sky over the bar speakers, and we went for it.”

Showboat Honey was recorded and produced by Kyle Craft, Kevin Clark, and Billy Slater at their own Moonbase Studios in Portland over 2018. The album was mixed by Trevor Spencer and mastered by April Golden at Golden Mastering.

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

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Kyle Craft, along with his now solidified backing band dubbed Showboat Honey, release their self-titled album, the contemplative yet restless Showboat Honey (Sub Pop Records, July 12th, 2019) This is basically an album centered around bad luck and good fortune hitting at the same time, Craft explains “Then, out of nowhere, I find love. Everything went to shit except that. I guess that’s how life works.”

No track better captures this duality than the sweeping “Sunday Driver,” about sticking to your guns, despite a universe of blowback. “At this point, you get baptized by certain fires and start to walk with the dead a little bit, like nothing can harm you anymore,” says the Portland-based musician. “That’s what self-love sounds like to me, as aggressive as that sounds.”

The sticky-sweet title of the album is lifted from the brightly choral “Buzzkill Caterwaul” (“Once you were the showboat honey/ But your ship sailed out”). “I wanted to make something that sounded like a raucous collision of Leon Russell and Patti Smith,” he says, “But ‘Buzzkill Caterwaul’ was the only tune that ended up showcasing that vision.”

Though aesthetics veer from song to song, Showboat Honey’s steadfast formula remains the same. Drummer Haven Mutlz holds down the machine with a ’60s/’70s fast-molasses groove that locks in with the slinky rolling bass of Billy Slater. When Kevin Clark isn’t bouncing across the piano, his mellotron strings swell in and out of frame. Jack of all trades Ben Steinmetz’s organ parts well up from the deep of the songs, while lead guitarist Jeremy Kale’s solos rip through them like electricity. On top of it all, sits the tongue-in-cheek phantasmagoria created by Craft’s lyrics.

Lyrically, perspectives shift to imbue life into a cast of intriguing, mysterious characters, à la Bob Dylan. (“There is not a single thing in my life that has affected me more than the first time I heard Dylan,” says Craft. “It immediately changed my life.”) “Johnny (Free & Easy)” is seemingly about a date gone awry at a swinger’s party in the Hollywood Hills. And the twangy pop of “O! Lucky Hand” appears to shadow a poor sod desperate to elude a hex. Its antidote is the stunning, cinematic “Deathwish Blue,” which sounds like a deep cut from the book of John Lennon, about the lovesick salvation found in his bride to be, Lydia.

If that’s not head-trippy enough, the carefree sing-along “2 Ugly 4 NY” features a lyrical reference to a previous incarnation of Craft. Its lyrics—“Don’t wanna see Death strum for cash downtown/ Or the look on his face when the change hits the case on the ground”—call out his early days in Portland when he went by the moniker of Hobo Grim. Busking downtown, he’d cover country tunes while dressed as the Grim Reaper so as to conceal his true identity.

Craft started writing about as soon as he could play the guitar at the age of 15. He grew up in the isolated Mississippi River town of Vidalia, Louisiana where his chops weren’t honed in a woodshed, but rather an old, dingy meat freezer that was out of commission.  When asked about the first song he’d ever written, he laughs, saying it was an “angsty-rock tune” and “a rare bird of how bad a song could be.”

After years of touring, two LPs with Sub Pop Records, and solidifying the band, he’s since grown into a prodigious songwriter, to say the least. The band recorded Showboat Honeyco-produced by Craft, Clark, and Slater—at their own Moonbase Studios in Portland over 2018. “We approached this record differently for sure,” Craft says. “I’d make a demo, and after putting the songs together, shoot it to the band for ideas.” Tracks such as “Broken Mirror Pose” ended up being highly collaborative, while others settled into Craft’s original vision. “Deathwish Blue,” for instance, was tracked in a similar fashion to his solo debut, Dolls of Highland, with Craft tracking every instrument by himself.

Kyle and the members of Showboat Honey worked at such a feverish wine-fueled pace that they actually ended up with two completely different albums. But at the end of the day, they decided to combine the two into what is now Showboat Honey, a moonstruck rock ’n’ roll record teeming with reckless abandon.

“We thought we had the album done at one point. But at the last minute, I was like, ‘Shit, this isn’t the album. This isn’t it,’” Kyle says. “It was just a gut feeling. I’m glad for that because I feel like I ended up writing some of the best songs I’ve ever written.”

‘Showboat Honey’ (Release Date: July 12th, 2019)

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Shadowgraphs is a neo-psychedelic band from Portland, OR.

On the title track from its latest album, “Another Time”, this Portland-based rock band takes listeners on a soaring psychedelic trip complete with wailing guitars and hazy vocals. Shadowgraphs from Charlotte, NC, comprised of internationally known collage artist Bryan Olson and fellow German cosmonaut Charles Glade (Wils). Both ends met after being introduced through a mutual friend who thought the two shared similar musical interests. Bryan and Wils instantly sparked a connection and songs began to emerge. The two would experiment late nights with tape machines, sharing music and production ideas, and writing songs. After only four months of meeting, an EP titled “Return to Zero” was written and the band was officially born with Ethan Ricks on Bass and Cody Hare on Drums.

“The six-song release is a mesmerizing psychedelic overtaking in the vein of 13th floor Elevators and the golden age of enlightening psychedelic rock. The tracks blend together so stylishly it makes me want to drink spiked strawberry lemonades in the sunshine. “Moonchild” is one of those unattainably perfect nights where the groove is set by smart, steady rhythm and lights fizz around your head even (and especially) when your eyes are closed. “Return to Zero” is straightforward, bluesy and a completely distinctive sound.

Since Return to Zero, Shadowgraphs put out a two song EP titled “Midnight Tea” containing a Syd era Pink Floyd cover of “See Emily Play” along with an unreleased Kinks cover of “This Strange Effect.” The EP was featured on New Zealand music Blog “The Active Listener”.

Venomous Blossoms, Shadowgraphs follow-up 10 song LP, is finished and currently being pressed for Vinyl with an expected release date in April under the label Golden Brown out of Portland, OR. This LP was recorded all to 2” 24 track tape at Bryan’s home studio with the band,

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The story of music in 2018 was actually made up of a bunch of different stories. As subgenres bloomed and bloomed, it seemed a greater number of more diverse identities were spotlighted than ever before. One of those storytellers is Portland-based Katherine Paul, who released her debut album, Mother of My Children, as Black Belt Eagle Scout last August. Paul has a knack for making very specific, personal anecdotes feel universal. She grew up on a tiny Indian reservation in Washington, and her indigenous identity is perhaps what informs her musings on nature and our relationship to it.

Paul says something of the sort herself in a press note: “My music and my identity come from the same foundation of being a Native woman.” On album standout “Indians Never Die,” Paul begs us to look up and pay attention. “Do you ever notice what surrounds you?” she asks. And on lead-off track “Soft Stud,” a marvelously fuzzed-out rock lean-in, Paul goes for the personal, singing “Need you, want you” over and over, perfectly summing up the desperate feelings surrounding new, perhaps forbidden, love. If the onslaught of new subgenres means we get to hear more voices like Paul’s,

Black Belt Eagle Scout“Soft Stud” From the album Mother Of My Children – Out now!