VENUE NEWS: On the heels of Laughing Horse Books' official closure comes more devastating news for the city's barely afloat all-ages music scene: Slabtown—the storied Northwest Portland bar that has become one of the best places in Portland over the past two years to see all-ages music (replete with a back room full of arcade games)—may be shutting its doors at the start of November. In addition to regularly hosting all-ages shows, Slabtown houses the Church of Rock 'n' Roll, an invaluable volunteer-run youth collective that held a variety of events out of the aforementioned back room, including DIY-centric workshops and a weekly queer night. An online fundraiser to save the bar has been posted at gofundme.com/saveslabtown, but if the ambitious $50,000 goal is not met, Slabtown's Day of the Dead cover show on November 1 will be the space's final event.
The New Pornographers w/the Pains of Being Pure at Heart; Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside
Canadian critical darlings the New Pornographers are perhaps best known—in the US, at least—as the springboard for Neko Case's solo career. But their debut, Mass Romantic, is one of the most essential modern power-pop LPs. It encapsulates all the defining ingredients of a substantial pop record: relentlessly catchy melodies, wryly sweet-and-sour turns of phrase, and a general playfulness that, god knows, was missing from most rock produced in the year 2000. Just peep "Letter from an Occupant," the lead single off that record: It sounds both current and reverentially appreciative of past practitioners of pop like Big Star and the Cars, a delineation that could apply to the group's entire catalog. While the unbridled enthusiasm that characterized the group's early material has waned with each release, the group's songwriting—predominantly tackled by A.C. Newman and Destroyer's Dan Bejar—is consistently stellar. Their latest, Brill Bruisers, is one of their most staggering and stylistically varied albums to date, covering everything from the band's signature brand of anthemic arena/indie rock (the title track) and chic synth-pop ("Champions of Red Wine"), to 69 Love Songs-esque twee ("Another Drug Deal of the Heart") and Who worship ("You Tell Me Where").
Empire! Empire! (I Was a Lonely Estate) w/Free Throw, Caregiver, Animal R&R; Slabtown, 1033 NW 16th
Fenton, Michigan-based twinkle-maestros Empire! Empire! (I Was a Lonely Estate) win the award for having the most ostentatious and inscrutable name of any emo revival act, but don't let that deter you from giving their latest full-length, You Will Eventually Be Forgotten, a proper chance. It's a half hour of minimalist, conversational emo that's as singular as it is indebted to genre forebears like American Football and Mineral. Not to mention, it's a great soundtrack for the transition from summer to fall.