Posts Tagged ‘Portland’

Ten Million Lights are an indie shoegaze band from Portland, Oregon who tap into something special on their new single “Myanmar.”

The band captures a level of rocking fuzzy goodness that creates a stirring non-stop atmosphere that still finds room for the heavenly floating vocals that mix with the shoegazey guitar work that feels like a mix of bands like Ride and Slowdive. Even better yet is the band’s description of the song:

The lyrics are highly imaginative about looking over the Event Horizon into a black hole to try and meet your maker only to find out its a praying mantis lizard who is turning our sun into a crystal. Have fun with this quick ditty. You just might have to play it twice…It doesn’t get much better than that.


Released August 21st, 2020
Ryan Carroll – vocals, guitars
Eric Block – guitars
Russ Ellis – bass
Paul Hardie – drums

This may need a little explaining… so back when everything first started with the pandemic, I was wrapping up the tracking of what would be my 4th album. It’s a pretty groovy spin, maybe some of my best yet? That record is done and I’m very excited for you to hear it, but that IS NOT this record. This is Sugar Water... an odd little collection of songs that will be out in early September. Songs about witches, Greyhounds, real hounds, the best singer in Abilene (also a hound), evil motorcycle riding grandmothers, and the best Hummingbird nectar on the market.

Typically when announcing an album, you have a track list and it’s all finished; however, that isn’t the case here. Right now, there are 7 songs. My hope is to write and record 3 more between now and September. Here’s the first single! It’s called Rising Sign and it isn’t anything at all about the subject matter I mentioned earlier… Cheers Sugar Water... my 5th album… out before the 4th one.


This song is the first single for Sugar Water… An album that will likely be out in early September.
Released August 7th, 2020

Wipers - Youth Of America (Anniversary Edition 1981-2021).jpg

To mark the 40th anniversary of Wipers’ second album, “Youth of America”, the group has put together a commemorative vinyl reissue with Jackpot Records that features several previously unreleased tracks.

When Greg Sage roars “it’s no fair” midway through Youth of America, the vowels long and colicky, it’s not exactly a noble moment. Complaining about unfairness rarely is, because even if it’s accurate, it’s still a badge of comfort. “No fair” are petulant words, stagnant words, the conclusion of people who have set up camp in their perceived burdens. “No fair” is not a phrase of a revolution, because fairness is built on shifting sands; it’s not as steely a protest as “unjust” or “wrong.” And the people to whom life truly has been cruellest don’t have the time to complain about it; they’re too busy trying to out manoeuver the system that failed them. Now that’s not fair.

When Portland’s Wipers released their second album in May 1981, the shadow of Reagan’s conservatism was only beginning to spread. But the writing was on the wall: He’d spent his first 100 days shoving through so many revisions to tax policy and restrictions on federal power, he was accused of effectively squashing the concept of an activist government full stop. The sense of selfishness was demoralizing. An anticipatory static filled the air; the spectre of “no future,” that familiar credo of punk, wore a Windsor knot.

By this time, also, the “youth” in question had already heard plenty of punk—enough for its most stinging, mutinous qualities to have calcified into a formula. Punk, while still radical in its political messaging, was moving decisively in one direction: shorter, faster. Not everyone was pushing out 21 songs in 35 minutes, like the overachievers in Wire, but bands were doggedly dispatching songs quicker than the punk class before them; this included Wipers’ 1980 debut, “Is This Real?”, which followed all the spiny punk tropes and, upon release, sank without a ripple. Down in Los Angeles, a movement was brewing around Black Flag, who were about to shift the median with their debut album, Damaged, and its songs barely over the 3-minute mark.

It didn’t take a Rimbaud scholar to see that gloomy, 10-minute, Krautrock-inspired songs would be a tough sell in the early-’80s punk economy. But Sage, a scientific-minded contrarian—he’d started building recording equipment and playing guitar in the third grade after seeing a movie about Thomas Edison—tested his hypothesis anyway. And on “Youth of America”, The Wipers all but acknowledge the absurdity of their approach. You hear every roll of the dice, and the slight inhale of disbelief after they land; it builds the train while it’s already in motion, laying each link of track just before derailment.

Punk had never quite shown its seams like this before, its questioning of itself and its construction; it had never felt like such a righteous search for answers that was more concerned with asking the questions. The simultaneously thriving post-punk and no wave scenes had also taken mallets to the conventions of punk, but they’d had no problem casting aside the politics and guitars, as well. In Youth of America’s six grim, unhurried songs, Sage is weighed by his own dilemmas and asks them overtly: How can he change? What of this world is worth saving, and what possible advice can be wrung from that stone for the next generation? What can be said of this violent country as it enters a new era of turning that contempt inward? Why did he take on this role, anyway, and when will he finally cross the rubicon where his listeners need to save themselves by rebelling against him, already a geriatric punk at 29 years old?

Mirroring Sage’s outlier status: Portland itself. Far removed from the switchboards of American punk—New York, D.C., L.A.—the Pacific Northwest wouldn’t become a rock destination for another decade. Until a Wipers superfan named Kurt Cobain threw a baby into a swimming pool (and copied Sage’s penchant for flannel), the scene was off the grid; it was filled with D.I.Y. savants like Sage who disdained conformity and showed it with clever, cutting music they had no intention to scale. (When the Seattle scene exploded in the early ’90s, and A&R execs descended on seemingly every band in a 200-mile radius, Sage still refused to follow the “grunge” slipstream, famously turning down an opening tour slot for Nirvana.) It was truly a place of creativity for purpose, not product.

To understand “Youth of America”, it’s best to start at the conclusion. “When It’s Over”—a clear mission statement on the album across six minutes—is, in many ways, the most insurrectionist track on the album: It opens with over three minutes of an anxious, abrasive instrumental. Sage’s guitar wields full narrative reign—his chords open brashly, in the type of rapid churn that Buzzcocks and Stiff Little Fingers mastered. But then, in a surprising upheaval, he adds longer, musing tones that challenge the air over Dave Koupal’s bass and Brad Naish’s drums; soon the guitar has its own wandering spirit, its own melodic refrain, building its power in a direct nod to motorik momentum. The instrument is a clearly defined character, demanding its own experience.

Minutes into “When It’s Over,” when the guitar cedes to Sage’s voice, the transition is abrupt enough to almost feel bashful, a second-guessing of the kind of ego that allowed that irreverent open; piano supports his low, Bauhaus-worthy gothic grumble, so deep the ear must strain to make out his laments. “In the land of dreams, I find myself sober/Wonder when it’ll all be over,” he moans. When the guitar skitters back in, it’s at first noisy yet deferential to the words, clanging back on its first motif with tinny, sinister restraint; it feels like a dramatic battle between instrument and vocalist, a battle for the soul of the track—and perhaps the listener’s, too. The stakes rise and never resolve; Naish adds a clawing, claustrophobic pulse. The guitar ultimately regains its full audacity—mirroring Sage’s voice while it also gains intensity, screaming, “Will you be laughing when it’s over?”—and the song ends on its miserable questions, asked at a fever pitch. .

His words on the comparatively poppy “Taking Too Long” offer more of a quiet, paternal disappointment than a scolding. “What was coming from the sky?” Sage demands. Missile or omen, the result is immutable: “You never, ever change your mind.” It’s almost graceful at times in its sour melody, a pinch of sugar dissolving into acid.

Sage seems to acknowledge this on “Pushing the Extreme,” which has a taunting, declaratory quality absent from much of Youth of America. It’s macabre in a slightly cartoonish way, and makes its most obvious overtures to fully igniting a class war. “Through your mirror there is such vanity/Through the light, it broke to me,” Sage sings, scolding some Patrick Bateman wannabe over ghostly percussive mixing that shoots cymbals around like shrapnel. The sentiment is mirrored with even more gothic intonation in the unapologetically bratty “No Fair,” in which Sage mutters at the rising ruling class—“Take a piece of our lives, didn’t think we’d care?”—over Koupal’s bleeding basslines. In 1981,

In Youth of America’s title track, Sage yells to a generation, his voice raw and unaltered, “The walls are coming down/The walls are crumbling down on you.” It’s somehow simultaneously modest and hubristic to suggest his most useful role is at a lectern, that he is the one who must awaken that fury in others. Amid the deep, convulsing distortion of bass and guitar, he adds a stark political science lesson: “They attack you from the right side/Down the left side.” But that distance quickly collapses: “It is time we rectify this now/ We’ve got to heal it now.”

Sage stomps back to the mic to intone more civics: “The rich get richer and the poorer get poorer. Now there’s no place to go,” he mutters dourly. The track’s remaining five minutes are an inversion of the kraut- and psych-rock leanings from earlier in the record, when repetition bred power. “Youth of America” defends every moment of its 10 minutes and 27 seconds, maintaining its fearsome intensity and leaving an ominous chill in its wake.


An absolute gem and a massive recommendation . After a head warping intro “Men And Their Work” kicks into eight driving postpunk rockers full of angst, confidence, feminism, melody, grit and a sense of direction not commonly found in a debut album. Shit, most seasoned bands don’t even make albums this coherent. It’s a smart moniker as All Hits certainly lives up to the promise. There is a 60/40 split of familiar comfort and provocative mystery inherent in every song. You get shouted sloganeering backed with barbed melody and finessed power-ups massaged into the sweetest spots.

We can’t put our finger on exactly what it is that makes this record so special but whatever it is there is a lot of it. Destined to be a modern classic. For fans of Wipers, Raincoats, early Wire and Sleater-Kinney.


We can’t put our finger on exactly what it is that makes this record so special but whatever it is there is a lot of it. Destined to be a modern classic. Destined to be a modern classic. So much so, that Rough Trade has deemed it their “Record of the Week” for June 26th. Lovely.

300 black, 100 translucent smoky blue and 100 coke bottle clear (a Rough Trade exclusive color)

Full length album “Men And Their Work” out June 26th on Iron Lung Records.

Marisa Anderson channels the history of the guitar and stretches the boundaries of tradition. Her playing is fluidemotional, and masterful, featuring compositions and improvisations that re-imagine the landscape of American music. Her work applies elements of minimalism, electronic music, drone and 20th century classical music to compositions based on blues, jazz, gospel and country music.

The challenge of covering an Elliott Smith song is daunting. When the words are stripped away what is revealed at the core of The White Lady Loves You More is delicate and mysterious. After building it up and tearing it down several times, I arrived at a deconstructive approach, following the vocals as closely as I could, treating my guitar as an acapella voice.
released July 9th, 2020

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The impossibly talented 19-year old Utah musician Sammy Brue has just shared the latest song from his forthcoming album, “Crash Test Kid”. “Megawatt” is the fourth track to be released from the already critically lauded young artist’s sophomore album, Crash Test Kid. (June 12 via New West Records) . Having just completed tours opening for Michael Kiwanuka and Marcus King before the Covid-19 crisis, Sammy was forced to cancel his trip to SXSW, and has spent the past several weeks at home in Utah, where he’s been performing live on his Instagram Stories and recently took part in Consequence Of Sound’s livestream tribute to one of his musical heroes, John Prine.

Since writing his first song (a fingerpicked, autobiographical tune titled “The Woody Guthrie Song”) at the age of 11, Brue has released three homespun EPs, his New West full-length debut, I Am Nice and a 2018 EP, Down with Desperation . In the process, the Ogden, Utah native has been hailed as an “Americana prodigy” by Rolling Stone , a “wunderkind” by American Songwriter and one of the “teenagers shaping pop” by The New Yorker . Alongside this, Brue has performed at the Newport Folk Festival and played shows with the likes of Lucinda Williams, Lukas Nelson and Hayes Carll; and toured alongside Justin Townes Earle, who has become a mentor of sorts.


Brue recorded his debut full-length, I Am Nice , in Muscle Shoals with Ben Tanner of Alabama Shakes and John Paul White of The Civil Wars producing. But for his new album he took a different approach, collaborating with Irish producer, singer-songwriter Iain Archer , who has worked with the likes of Jake Bugg and Snow Patrol.

released June 12th, 2020
All songs written by Sammy Brue and Iain Archer

Moon Duo Escape album artwork

To celebrate the tenth anniversary of Moon Duo’s long-out-of-print debut LP “Escape”, Sacred Bones is proud to present a new deluxe version of the album.
The new reissue will include the original album in its entirety, plus three additional rare tracks taken from Moon Duo’s wild early days. Reflecting on the album in March 2020, the band shared the following statement: “We made this record in a rehearsal space in San Francisco in late 2009. It was kind of a classic band space, shared by a rangy assortment of musicians over months and years, behind one of several similar doors in a dark red hall. A windowless room lit by string lights and an odd assortment of lamps, the walls a palimpsest of posters and gig fliers.

The band shared the following statement on the 10th anniversary of the album: “We made this record in a rehearsal space in San Francisco in late 2009. It was kind of a classic band space, shared by a rangy assortment of musicians over months and years, behind one of several similar doors in a dark red hall. A windowless room lit by string lights and an odd assortment of lamps, the walls a palimpsest of posters and gig fliers. There was a grimy, burn-pocked rug, cluttered gear in various stages of use and abandonment, and the air seemed to hang in a permanent film of smoke residue and stale beer. We recorded to a 4-track tape machine over the course of a few nights – we’d just start the beats, hit ‘record’ and let fly. We had a vague sense of coalescence, or fomentation, like a glimpse of a thing in outline which you can’t yet see, but neither of us knew at the time that this was the record that would mark the beginning of our life as a touring band and would initiate our connections to so many (now long-time) friends, familiars and collaborators. Ten years feels like both a lifetime and the blink of an eye – measurable but impossible to quantify. These four tracks, and the others that join them here, are a snapshot of our earliest incarnation: flying blind, but high on the freedom of experimentation and filled with hope for things to come.”


Moon Duo is Ripley Johnson and Sanae Yamada.

Very pleased to release our new singles club release “The Gold Room” for Bandcamp No-Fee Friday with cover art by painter Chris Johanson! All sales from today will also go directly to the Black Resilience Fund: The Woolen Men, songs were written by singer and guitarist Lawton Browning — a definite change of pace from the collaborative process the Portland lo-fi indie rock trio usually works with when writing new material.

Musically, The Woolen Men are brainy and loose post-punk indie rock, Browning’s self-taught guitar playing adding bursts of noise and angularity, with grooves both awkward and infectious. 

“I picked up a guitar like most disaffected, bored teenagers when I was about 13,” Browning says, but lessons didn’t stick. “I have a very weird style,” he says, but the gaps in his technique give Woolen Men’s sound a unique cast. In the studio, the band records live with no multi-tracking, applying the notion of “first thought, best thought” to their music.

“With a vocal take, if it’s not there in the first one to three takes you need to go back and rework what you’re doing,” Browning says. “More often the not it’s the first take that turns out to be the best one. We’re not interested in slaving over the songs. It’s more about them feeling right.”


2nd Release in the Woolen Men singles club!
Released June 5th, 2020
Piano, Voice – Lawton Browning
Bass – Alex Geddes
Drums – Rafael Spielman



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The Helio Sequence is an American Indie Rock duo formed in Beaverton, OR in 1996. The band is composed of Brandon Summers (Vocals/Guitar) and Benjamin Weikel (Drums/Keyboards). Those who have been to a Helio Sequence show know what to expect: a sonic wall of electric guitar and synth, bombastic sub bass, and drum kit acrobatics accompanied by Benjamin’s many expressive faces.
But for one special night on March 31st, 2015 we rewrote the script. At a sold out show at Seattle’s beautiful Triple Door, we played a fully acoustic set.

The origins of our acoustic show lay in necessity. In spring of 2014, we were all set to play a benefit for our friends at the Children’s Book Bank at the Old Church in our hometown of Portland. Just a few days before the show, we got an understandably concerned call from the venue letting us know that the high decibel levels of a typical Helio show would quite probably cause structural damage to the fragile building. At first we thought we would just turn down for the event, but soon realized that we’d have to do something much more drastic. So, in a hectic couple of days of rehearsal, we put together our first-ever acoustic set. The show was a success and most importantly we didn’t knock down the Old Church!

In making the acoustic set we learned a new way of looking at our songs. We used different keys, new chord voicings, alternate tunings and a wide range of percussion. Songs that we had known and played for years took on a new life and we were excited about the prospect of sharing them with more people. In early 2015, when we finished up recording our new album, we jumped on the opportunity to put together a special acoustic eve at The Triple Door.


The night was even more magical than we could have imagined. We were both pretty nervous before the show, as it was such new territory to play without the high volume and layers of synths that we’re used to. And we had never performed to a seated, dining audience before. (Listen closely and you’ll hear the gentle clanking of silverware on people’s plates during dinner service!) But everybody was so overwhelmingly supportive and enthusiastic that our apprehension soon melted away. The evening flowed with a wonderful, natural energy. For part of the show, we were joined by phenomenal cellist Samantha Kushnick, marking the unique occasion of Helio Sequence as a trio. And as the show went on, it was a joy to hear people singing along, clapping, and laughing.

We’re so glad we caught the show “on tape” and can now share “The Helio Sequence Acoustic Live at The Triple Door” with everyone. That night served as an uplifting reminder that there’s as much power in the quieter moments as a full bore rock show. And it was confirmation that at root, a song is a form of intimacy and music is the power of a shared experience.

Released June 5th, 2020

Cello on “Hall of Mirrors”, “Battle Lines”, “Broken Afternoon”, and “Hallelujah” by Samantha Kushnick

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On their debut, Portland’s The Bedrooms sound so claustrophobic you’d believe they formed in the early 80s. Sonically they fall somewhere between the post-punk of The Sound and the brooding complex guitar pop of the Chameleons without sacrificing any originality. Beware, this one grows on you. “This long awaited release by the Bedrooms completes the mythology of a band learned of in local circles of the like-minded and spoken in reverent tones by the passionate few. The Bedrooms have a classically rain-streaked Portland post punk sound that reflects the bleary winter of endless grey days and pitch-black nights. Their rhythms are charged with the desperation of driving in a storm while the guitar’s single note knife-edge glints against the vocal’s guiding light, crooning new romantic but not niave. Their songs speak to the private dramas and dreams that happen behind closed doors and while they herald of dystopias (which no doubt we’re in the timeslip of) they remind us to avoid becoming wearied or callous, for with every winter we can have a hope for spring.” (Corby Plumb, Totally Different Head zine). Out on January 31st on Domestic Departure Records.


Grungy riffs and a very unique vocalist. Easily my favorite album released in the last year. Bought it on vinyl,

Released February 1st, 2020

sheana: guitar, vocals
danny: bass, vocals
jacyn: drums, synth, vocals
jen: vocals, synth, percussion