The 11 tracks of doleful, spacious, loop-based electro-acoustic confession on The Burning Beard—the compelling second album by Portland music polymath Sam Schauer under his Modernstate moniker—feature a diverse set of instruments, nearly all of which Schauer played himself. His disciplined, intricate guitar work glides over a rhythm track that shifts from spare drum-machine blips to jazzy trap-kit sputterings to rock bombast to nothing at all, often in the course of a single song. Schauer's drumming is highly expressive, but Beard's songs live and die by Schauer's guitar loops and his unmistakable baritone howl, which doesn't sound like speech so much as it honors its inflections and cadences.
Schauer shouts acutely personal narratives, daring the listener into intimacy, and bellows meditations on proletarian woes: "The man keeps us concerned about our credit scores/We should worry more about our friends and neighbors." In spite of the contemporary themes and instrumentation, his confessional mode paired with a voice and a guitar places Schauer firmly in a storied American musical tradition that values authenticity and locality as much as Modernstate does—the blues. Come catch Schauer sing 'em with the live Modernstate band, as they release The Burning Beard on Friday, June 1, at the Funky Church with excellent local acts the Builders & the Butchers, and Au.In breaking news, Chantelle Hylton, perhaps Portland's most influential booker, just celebrated her birthday back East, and boy did she get a whopper of a present: the position of senior talent buyer at venerable New York City music venue the Knitting Factory! Hylton began her tenure in Portland booking nearly seven years ago, when she parlayed the success of a single night at the Medicine Hat Gallery featuring such future notables as a pre-Thermals Hutch Harris, and her own mom, into a full-time gig there. She went on to book at the Blackbird, the "it" club of the early oughts, until its untimely closing, at which point Hylton moved to Berbati's and, subsequently, the Towne Lounge and Someday Lounge, where she has worked since, in addition to running her Blackbird Presents promotions company. To answer your questions: Yes, Hylton will continue to manage Blackbird Presents remotely. Halleluwah (the multimedia music festival she began last year with Yeti magazine's Mike McGonigal) will still happen this summer. But no, she will no longer book the Towne Lounge and Someday Lounge and doesn't yet know who will. All are invited to a free going-away party at Holocene on Tuesday, June 5, to send Hylton off in style, as folks from the Joggers, Grails, Dolorean, and more kick out the jams. If you make an appearance, it'll look less tacky when you email Hylton to set up a Knitting Factory tour stop in the fall.