ZOLA JESUS, PETE SWANSON, THE SLAVES, DJ YETI (Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison) Zola Jesus was birthed in a rural Wisconsin bedroom. Dreamed up by a sullen teenaged Nika Roza Danilova, the name was more a pseudonym than anything formal; just an excuse for the reclusive teen to stay out of the spotlight and create music under a name that was not her own. "It was just me with a voice recorder, improvising and almost just making a cappella music because I didn't have any instruments at that point; it started off very crude," explains Danilova. But as Danilova grew, so did Zola Jesus, although it was years after the alter ego's initial inception before she actually took the stage. "I didn't actually play out until I was in college," says Danilova. "I had one person back me up, and I played keyboard. Which was kind of a disaster. So I haven't done that setup since."
BEAR IN HEAVEN, TWIN SISTER, WHITE HINTERLAND (Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) Twin Sister is a band of ideas, which means they can take you by surprise. They take themselves by surprise at times, too. "In our minds, we're so often ahead of what we're doing at the moment," explains bassist Gabe D'Amico. That comes through on their Color Your Life EP, which was recorded piecemeal over a period of months as the band members found time. At first it sounds disconnected, as if the instruments are talking to each other over a bad phone connection. As leadoff track "The Other Side of Your Face" progresses, though, the disparate streams of its slow ambiances slither together into a unified sound, and lead singer Andrea Estella murmurs, in her slurred smoky voice, "I could try to change the way I think/If it makes you happy, then I will." The melodic section of the track eventually dissolves again into an instrumental float buoyed by echoing guitars and tom taps.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, RESIDUAL ECHOES (Slabtown, 1033 NW 16th) Vermont is an incredible place, filled with gorgeous countrysides and wintry landscapes, but musically it isn't the first place you think of as a breeding ground for wonderful bands. But let's not let the noodling of Phish ruin Vermont for everyone—there's plenty of good music to be found in the Green Mountain State. Case in point: Brattleboro's Happy Birthday, whose self-titled debut has been released on Sub Pop, and thank Christ it sounds not a damn thing like Phish. Instead, it's goofy, skuzzy, punkish pop, overpacked with melodies and buzzing guitars. Happy Birthday could be a slightly nastier version of Girls, and with the promise that they won't collapse under the weight of their own live show. It's a promise they make good on: Unlike those of Girls, the tunes of Happy Birthday are barebones simple, without any kind of conceit, just puckish good fun with jangles and strums in all the right places. NL
Agesandages, Laura Gibson, SSS, Barn Owl after the jump!
As always, you can find our complete live music listings here.
AGESANDAGES, AAN, EZRA CAREY (Rontoms, 600 E Burnside) SUMMERTIME ROLLS—As if you needed any more proof that Portland summer (when it finally gets going) is the best thing ever, the Sunday evening free shows on the Rontoms patio are the perfect way to wind down a weekend. Tonight features the many harmonies of AgesandAges and their charming chamber-country-rock.
OREGON BALLET THEATRE'S UPRISING: WEINLAND, LAURA GIBSON (Aladdin Theater, 3017 SE Milwaukie) See yesterday's post.
DATURA BLUES, SSS, MINDLESS THUGGS (Ella Street Social Club, 714 SW 20th Pl) Sam Smith, former drummer of No Go Know, unveils the newest work from his solo project, dubbed SSS, at tonight's record release show. This and Not That, the fruit of Smith's labors over an 18-month recording period, is a densely woven series of instrumentals played entirely by Smith that run the gamut from jazzy fusion and syncopated skronk to lyrical interludes and straightforward grooves. At times sounding like a jam session, at others a carefully sculpted piece of brain candy, the record is a tour de force of Smith's prowess on all kinds of instruments. For the live SSS experience, Smith has recruited members of No Go Know, Datura Blues, and Gratitillium to reproduce the intricate sounds of This and Not That, which at times sounds like a slightly folkier, friendlier take on the dense sounds of Stiffwiff. NL
TECUMSEH, BARN OWL, DANIEL MENCHE, ILYAS AHMED (Branx, 320 SE 2nd) Newly signed to Thrill Jockey, San Francisco duo Barn Owl (Evan Caminiti and Jon Porras) launch skyward guitar drones into optimally modulated, meditative hazes. Their music is for long-attention-spanned individuals, which is commercial suicide, but for those blessed with the ability to enter Zen consciousness, it's hearty spiritual nourishment. Their new album, The Conjurer, at times bears similarities to Earth's recent Badlands twangy-blues minimalism, but Barn Owl still keep the tonal planes more astral than earthbound. DAVE SEGAL