If you don't know the Delines by name, perhaps you'll know the names behind it: Novelist and Richmond Fontaine frontman Willy Vlautin writes the tunes—a coup for any band, as he is one of the world's best songwriters—and plays guitar; his Richmond Fontaine bandmates Sean Oldham and Freddy Trujillo play the drums and bass, respectively; Jenny Conlee-Drizos of the Decemberists and Black Prairie plays keys; the Minus 5's Tucker Jackson plays pedal steel; and that's the Damnations TX's Amy Boone singing. The Delines' wonderful debut album, Colfax, comes out in the States on El Cortez Records on June 17, and it's a warm, loving album of country-soul that cuts deep. Their official record-release show is not until June 25 at Mississippi Studios, but you can get a taster on May 30 at Kenton Club, which'll be a goodbye show before they kick off their three-week European tour.
Morning Ritual, the collaboration of keyboardist Ben Darwish and vocalists Katelyn and Laurie Shook (of Shook Twins), are following up their debut, last year's The Clear Blue Pearl, with some new tunes. Judging by this track, "So Cold," it's a far busier, hotter affair than the cool minimalism of their debut, as the group locks into a warm, sweaty (but still laid back) soul groove. This is their new single and will appear on an EP later this year; more singles are on the way as well. Morning Ritual plays Holocene on May 14.
Graves at Sea are back in full swing, and now based here in Portland with a new rhythm section. The influential blackened doom metal band is poised, snarling, atop the release of their first new record since 2005. The This Place Is Poison EP is out now on 12-inch vinyl via the improbably prolific Eolian Empire label, and here's the brutal title track. Elsewhere on the EP, Graves at Sea take on a couple Sabbath classics: "Orchid" and "Lord of This World" (check 'em out here). Graves at Sea are in Europe right now, spreading their black, infested gospel.
Spend the next 20 minutes turning your brain topsy-turvy, with Northern Draw's half of a new split cassette with Diogenes, available on local label Ewe of Now. The Portland-based Northern Draw has concocted a syrupy, shapeshifting, short-attention-span tapestry of hiphop and lush R&B, with appearances by LeoLex, Valvoline, Mathew the Guru, and Roane Namuh. Northern Draw is currently in Europe, and will be back in PDX to play a vinyl DJ set at Aalto Lounge on May 30, as well as performing at the Know's Thirsty City Beat Night on June 10.
The sleek jangle Roman Tick makes is, fittingly, roman-tic (get it?). The Salem band doesn't have much music online other than this track, titled "2009" (no, I am not ready for nostalgia for the '00s), but it could just as easily be called "1989," echoing '80s soundtrack favorites with a sound driven by Peter Hook-like bass and a Spandau Ballet-like electric piano. Roman Tick plays May 1 with the Hugs at the Knock Back and at Slabtown on July 17 with Seance Crasher.
Let's end with another splendid track from Pop Zeus. I posted a tune from Pop Zeus' new, excellent EP Tell Me So last week, and here's another: the fervent, lovely "The Longer I Wait," which marries C86 with Burger Records slop-pop. This particular track was recorded in an NYC bedroom before Pop Zeus—AKA Mikey Hodges—moved to Portland; it's one of many great songs on Tell Me So, which you can grab here.