WED OCT 28
Mac DeMarco w/Alex Calder, the Courtneys; Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside
Since his last Portland show in April, "It" guy Mac DeMarco has released another batch of songs—the pithily titled mini-LP Another One—which, like most in his oeuvre, is smarter than it lets on. Opener "The Way You'd Love Her" sounds like a Gilbert O'Sullivan record that warped in the sun (that's a compliment), and "A Heart Like Hers" is one of DeMarco's most convincing yacht-rock pastiches yet.
There's a scholarly appreciation for good pop music bubbling underneath DeMarco's layers of demure ironic posturing. (For proof, look no further than his pick list in Amoeba Music's What's in My Bag? series, which, in spite of the shitty Doobie Brothers LP he pretends to like, is really solid: the Modern Lovers' self-titled, Van Dyke Parks' Song Cycle—pop songwriting master-class stuff.) But something about Another One also feels undeniably half-baked, even by DeMarco's standards. There's a homogenous quality here that ironically makes Another One feel less cohesive than Salad Days; every song starts with the same snare sputter and is characterized by the same grayscale wash of bargain-bin chorus and reverb. It feels like a capitulation to fan expectation at the expense of reduced artistic progress. Maybe someday DeMarco will kick the act and release a truly worthwhile pop record. Until then, here are more "chill vibes" with the occasional intimation of musical brilliance.
THURS OCT 29 & FRI OCT 30
Hanson w/Paul McDonald (Thurs), Carrick (Fri); Hawthorne Theatre, 1507 SE César E. Chávez
The sad truth is that Hanson are a nostalgia act. They were the Osmonds of the '90s boy-band wave, whose wholesome image was their undoing as much as it was an ingredient to their initial success. But the Osmonds comparison is a massive insult to Hanson—their artistic maturation, which occurred around 2000's This Time Around, was noteworthy, even if it didn't jibe with a confused public who still thought Taylor was a girl, and was met with critical derision from resident Village Voice geezer Robert Christgau. Hanson's follow-up, Underneath, in addition to being the band's best effort, is great and a hugely underrated power-pop record—replete with Matthew Sweet contributions!—that exemplifies our inability to take saccharine pop music seriously in the absence of some purported credibility (see: Ryan Adams, who sounds more like Coldplay than anyone really wants to admit).