Like other creatures of the Northwest, Portland musicians crawl into their dens for these darkest, coldest months. However, unlike their even scruffier wild counterparts who sleep through the winter, our city's songsmiths are hard at work: recording at home, finalizing mixes, and titling albums. The number of local albums coming out in 2008 that should have us all excited is simply staggering. And, of course, the sweetest treats will be those none of us see coming. Nonetheless, here are some Portland full-lengths due this year, the thought of which will keep me warm throughout the frost. (In the interest of diversity, I did not include any bands that were on my favorite albums and shows of 2007 lists [Our Town Could Be Your Life, Dec 20 & Dec 27].)
Alan Singley & Pants Machine
Feeling Citrus (Label TBD)
Due: "When the sun comes out" (i.e., spring)
Portland's bike-evangelizing answer to Jens Lekman, Burt Bacharach, and Hanna-Barbera spent 2007 teaching kids to play instruments at Ethos. He also learned music theory and how to arrange strings and horns, skill sets prominently on display on this richly orchestrated, 12-song paean to the holy, healing properties of domesticity.
Evolutionary Jass BandThis Is What Is Happening Today (Community Library)
Jef Brown (saxophone): "We've come a long way as a band since [recording these songs in December '05 and April '06], but I feel it's a good album and the world should hear it as a document from the time it was recorded. It's a strange and jarring record, especially due to the lack of continuity in the recording process, and it shows more of our focus than the first one. It actually works more like a novel while the first one was just short stories."
Horse FeathersTitle TBD (Kill Rock Stars)
Due: Fall 2008
The two-man Horse Feathers, consisting of guitarist and lead vocalist Justin Ringle and multi-tasking string player Peter Broderick, who wooed folk fans on 2006's shadow-infused Words Are Dead, has grown into a trio. Peter's cellist sister, Heather Broderick, has joined the band, opening up new horizons of harmony and orchestration on Horse Feathers' sophomore effort, its first for Kill Rock Stars.
Nice NiceTitle TBD (Warp Records)
Due: Second half of 2008
The best live band in the world took a sabbatical of sorts in 2007, sequestering themselves in the studio to document their frenetically polyrhythmic, drums 'n' guitar-based electro-psychedelia—equal parts safari and Atari—for new label Warp Records. If this album captures even a fraction of the ferocity, nuance, and playfulness that Nice Nice display on stage, Warp ought to have a worldbeater on its hands in '08.
Point Juncture, WA
Heart to Elk (Label TBD)
There is no band in town as refreshingly unembarrassed to revel in catchy melodies, rich sonorities, and just plain soundin' good as Point Juncture, WA. The quintet believes in this album enough to have literally tattooed the image of an elk's head superimposed on a heart on each of their bodies in honor of its title. Based on the few tracks I've heard—complete with signature vibes, trumpet, vocal harmonies, and shimmering guitars—you might want to start warming your own needles and ink.
Also Highly Anticipated: Au, A Weather, Blitzen Trapper, Dragging an Ox through Water, Dykeritz, Eskimo & Sons, the Helio Sequence, the Joggers, Lackthereof, Colin Meloy, New Bloods, Panther, Parenthetical Girls, Per Se, the Shaky Hands, Starfucker, Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, Talkdemonic, the Thermals, Trees, YACHT