The best new band in Portland, however, is sadly absent from this year's schedule.
I know that's inherently a myopic generalization. There are a ton of great new bands in Portland, most of which I'm likely not aware of (yet), and some of which are playing this year's festival. But Soft Skills' brand new record, A Future To Remember, (which is probably also the title to the best Steven Seagal movie from 1993 that doesn't actually exist) has done something remarkable to me: it has made me legitimately excited about local music again. It has stirred my cynical, static spirit. It has inspired me and made me feel, which are the elusive criteria that motivated me to start listening to records in the first place.
The entire record sounds as if guitarist/songwriter Kyle Parisi (who along with drummer Phil Cleary, plays in the similarly excellent but generally mathier, less accessible Duck. Little Brother, Duck!) attempted to create that one obscure, nonexistent Jade Tree release he wishes he would have stumbled across in his formative years. Adulation of classic emo—likely as an extension of this general wave of '90s nostalgia— has totally infected Tumblr culture, and this record occupies the absolute apex of that resurgence. Seldom is emo executed with this much purity and precision in the year 2013. And in many respects, Soft Skills are even better than their '90s antecedents.
So while I'm staggering home from this week's festivities exhausted and only partially cognizant, I'll probably be listening to A Future To Remember at a painful volume, and I wholeheartedly recommend you do the same. There's a good chance it will move me to tears. It's been awhile, after all. [A Future to Remember is streaming on Bandcamp.]