JULIA HOLTER, JIB KIDDER, CLOAKS (Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison) Renaissance pop curio Julia Holter is known for communicating more with the plaintive pace and silence of a single song than certain louder artists might yield in a lifetime, and her breakthrough record Ekstasis is an exquisite balance of such tense, threadbare moments. There's an emphasis on emphasis there, and a sense of devotion one might even call liturgical—no wonder Holter's been referred to as this generation's "savior of reverent music." But for all this talk of vibe and structure, what sticks most in the end is Holter's talent for intent, elegant melodies, and clinically orchestrated pop songs. CHRIS CANTINO Also see My, What a Busy Week!
BEST COAST, JEFF THE BROTHERHOOD (Aladdin Theater, 3017 SE Milwaukie) Best Coast's 2010 debut, Crazy for You, captured people's souls because it was so rooted in place. Sunny surf pop played by a lo-fi garage band just sounds like SoCal. Not since Red Hot Chili Peppers or N.W.A has a band evoked niche LA so well. Their second LP, The Only Place, certainly doesn't suffer from second-album syndrome, but the fuzzy homemade feel is gone and the crashing surf has given way to Anywhere, USA. Best Coast has traded up for a glossy, commercial-ready production, courtesy of Jon Brion (who's done such great things for Kanye). The songwriting is better, and Bethany Cosentino's lyrics have gotten more confessional and less comical. The refrain of the album's sixth track could apply to fans, producers, and critics alike: "I don't wanna be how they want me to be," she sings over and over. Point taken, Bethany. REBECCA WILSON