Full Circle 

Southern Belle Got Next

Birthed in basements with a sound polished amid the sweet chaos of a summertime house party, Southern Belle represent the wide-eyed second shift of Portland's music scene. Long before the Oregon Liquor Control Commission wised up and amended their archaic rules on minor postings, Portland's musical youth had already gone underground (oftentimes literally) to the basements, overgrown yards, and barren living rooms of our town's vibrant, if secretive—for fear of being outed, overcrowded, or broken up by the law—house show circuit. It was there—with crowds snugly tucked beneath drainage pipes adjacent to rumbling water heaters—that Southern Belle yelped, stomped, and screamed their way to something truly special.

While the fresh-faced quartet has a few years to go before they can actually order a round in the bars they often perform in, their youth works wonders when the band is onstage. Charismatically raw and unpolished, the band blurts out short songs with a glorious dose of unpretentious glee. Describing their music without using the crutch of "you just had to be there" might be a challenge, but it's safe to say that Southern Belle rest comfortably in the realm of bouncy keyboard pop. That is, a skewed take on pop music, blurred by a jittery dose of teenage hyperactivity and the adorably sweet delivery of a trio of vocalists (Ross McLeron, Austin Jackson, and Nicole Perry) alongside the thumping drums of Max Lilien. All of this is accentuated by the band's love of interacting with their ever-growing fanbase. Says Jackson, "At a house show the crowd is eye level, so close to us, and there is actually conversation between the band and the crowd."

The band is now preparing for a late summer self-release of their debut full-length, Hurry Up and Thrill Me—titled true to their instant gratification sound—and taking part in the PDX Pop Now! CD release show. This completes their full-circle transition from fans to performers. Jackson is quick to admit the role the local music festival has played in the band's growth as musicians and music fans: "At PDX Pop Now! 2005, just seeing the Thermals play at midnight, I was 16 and it was so rad."

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