Weatherbox w/Fireworks, Dry Jacket, Of Confidence; Analog Café, 720 SE Hawthorne
Weatherbox—San Diego singer/songwriter Brian Warren's solo-project-disguised-as-a-band—has changed quite a bit since its debut LP American Art, a shouty, impetuous latter-day emo pièce de résistance. It's tempting to say that Warren has "matured" (as hackneyed as that expression is when describing an artist's evolution), and the project's mellower direction certainly isn't for everyone. A former emo musician suddenly donning an acoustic guitar can inspire Dylan-goes-electric levels of skepticism and enmity from fans of the genre, and for good reason—see "I Will Follow You into the Dark."
Last year's Flies in All Directions is Weatherbox's latest effort, and it's a solid collection of poppy, wide-eyed, punk-dyed Weakerthans-core that sees Warren exchanging the last remnants of his callow rage for a heightened melodic sensitivity and dainty lettered wordplay. It might not be his best, but it's probably for the best.
John Value w/Post Moves, Fashion Club; Mother Foucault's, 523 SE Morrison
In addition to being a member of Little Star—one of the best underground bands Portland has to offer—John Value is a solo pop auteur, writing and performing everything on last year's Keep Me Hangin' On, a remarkable EP that somehow flew totally under the local press' radar.
Opener "Cereal Song" is possibly the best ode to breakfast cereal since Redd Kross' "Frosted Flake." It starts off almost like an early Dave Grohl toss-off before abruptly transmogrifying into a harmony-sodden Paul McCartney wet dream that totally befits the big twist: Value's girlfriend leaves him because of his addiction to cereal, though he couldn't be happier (as a matter of fact, it makes him feel "ethereal").
The precocious batch of originals is rounded out by a pretty staggering cover of Elliott Smith's "A Fond Farewell," done in a big-rock-band, Crazy Horse-esque fashion that likely would have brought a smile to the late singer/songwriter's face.