Fri July 1
Doug Fir Lounge
830 E Burnside
Though it is a double--rather than the originally planned triple--CD release party, tonight witnesses a new generation of Portland bands casting their hearts, hopes, and frailties into the ever-rising sea of local independent art. And while CD release shows are not uncommon events, tonight will be more than just a blip on the proverbial media radar screen--given that The Kingdom, Invisible, and Point Juncture, WA (who, unfortunately, didn't finish their record in time) are three of the most talked about and well-liked young bands this city has to offer. Thus, it makes sense that, despite their disparate sounds, they've combined forces to unleash an exciting new wave of Portland music.
The Kingdom, perhaps the most primed for success of the three, re-release their bizarre and wondrous debut EP, Unitas, on Arena Rock Records. A surreal paean to the legendary Baltimore Colts quarterback, Unitas is far more thematically adventurous than a typical debut. From the moment the narrator sees the lights above the football stadium as stars forming a constellation, to the portrayal of Johnny Unitas as a god hurling the sun across the night sky, one realizes that Chuck Westmoreland, the Kingdom's gifted singer and songwriter, has composed a modern myth that is as inspired by the ancient Greeks' supernatural conception of the natural world as it is by the euphoric and feverish electric folk of Jeff Mangum.
Though more lyrically direct than the headliners, the awkwardly named Point Juncture, WA will certainly turn some heads with their peculiar instrumentation and stage setup. Utilizing a vibraphone, horns, and a singing drummer placed front and center, the band creates an unconventional sound full of off-kilter melodies that are surprisingly accessible and appealing. Though their debut LP, Mama Auto Boss, wasn't completed in time for this event, if tracks like "Comments in Jars" and "Superer" from their debut Juxtapony EP (Lucky Madison Records) are any indication of their abilities, there is little doubt that the finished product will be well worth the slight delay.
Also commendable is Invisible's eponymous, self-released LP. Drawing heavily on the conceits of post-rock (clean guitar arpeggios, jazz-tinged drumming, soft vocals), Invisible infuse their sound with enough vigor and (yes) pop as to avoid being soulless or boring. "Now It's A Year (Going On Six Years)" is an obvious standout, though there isn't a weak track in the lot. Though the project is meant to be a multimedia experience, the audio component is quite capable of standing on its own.