GRAVY TRAIN!!!!, NEW BLOODS, FLESHTONE, GAY DECEIVERS, DJ
(Hippodrome Circus Arts Center, 315 SE 3rd) See My, What a Busy Week!.
BIRDMONSTER, LOVE LIKE FIRE, CEMENT SEASON
(Towne Lounge, 714 SW 20th Pl) There are moments in "Ball of Yarn," the beaming standout track from 2006's No Midnight, when San Francisco's Birdmonster sound like the very future of rock 'n' roll. Heavy statement, I know, but you cannot deny such lavish praise for a band with the keen ability to stretch a melody for what seems like hours—when in fact, it's just a few short minutes. While singer Peter Arcuni's delivery is worn thin and raspy, it's also the reason you hang on every word he speaks/sings, since his voice is that of the scrappy underdog, the sort of frontman who'd give it all onstage, dedicate his dying breath to some gorgeous lyric, then keel over right in front of your eyes. Now that they are freshly inked up with Fader Records, the band will be spending their days on the road, a task they are prepared for, as their band blog details the fine art of Taco Bell dining: "The first, indeed the all-important, rule of Taco Bell ordering: NO SAUCE. It doesn't matter what flavor said sauce is masquerading as—be it 'baja' or 'chipotle' or 'I hope that isn't human sperm'—do not eat that sauce. It will do bad things to your innards and your innards will punish you for your courageous idiocy." EZRA ACE CARAEFF
BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN & THE E STREET BAND
BELL X1, THE SUBMARINES
(Dante's, 1 SW 3rd) In their native Ireland, Bell X1 are pretty much the biggest rock band since U2. Coincidentally, both bands are named after US military jets—Bell X1 was an experimental supersonic jet; U2, a spy plane. Like modern-era U2, Bell X1 aim squarely for prime-time television placement with their brand of gently soaring soft-rock mope, landing songs on popular programs such as The O.C. and Grey's Anatomy. Of course, dubious licensing isn't really the kiss of death for a band these days—quite the opposite—and Bell X1's songs are fine as far as unsubtle emotionalism and budget-rate Radiohead are concerned, but they're unlikely to achieve anything like the ubiquity of their similarly aeronautical countrymen. ERIC GRANDY
CHARMPARTICLES, OH DARLING,
(Someday Lounge, 125 NW 5th) If you thought the band name was cute 'n' cuddly, wait until you hear the name of Oh Darling's new album. It's called Nice Nice, and boy is it ever as nice as a slice of watermelon on a summer day. With the crystalline voice of Jasmine Ash illuminating a simple garage-pop backdrop, the Portland quartet constructs songs with clean, unadorned musical lines and straightforward, bright-eyed lyrics; they're like soft, fluffy pillows—so nice, in fact, that it's a surprise when the ballad "BlindSpot" begins to genuinely rock or "Against the Skyline" veers into a dissonant jam. Highlight "Shoulda Never" indicates some real emotion, but at times the ultra-girly element of Oh Darling's music ends up stripping it of any sexuality, like a G-rated version of Blondie. Still, it's innocently chipper stuff, as enjoyable and inconsequential as an afternoon tea party. NED LANNAMANN
BOB MOULD BAND, SATURNA
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) Through the '80s, '90s, and the present decade, Bob Mould has written some of the most memorable pop songs in memory—whether through waves of distortion with Hüsker Dü or the cleanly strummed acoustic guitars of his late-'80s solo work. (That his voice is both memorable and instantly recognizable doesn't hurt.) More recently, Mould's areas of interest have grown to encompass electronic music, and while his recent District Line is, at root, an expressive rock record boasting large-scale hooks, songs like "Shelter Me" fuse that approach with layered beats and keyboards. Mould's recent work feels at times like a summation of all that's come before, something reflected by the sets on his recent tours delving into all aspects of his back catalog. TOBIAS CARROLL
JOSÉ GONZÁLEZ, MIA DOI TODD
(Aladdin Theater, 3017 SE Milwaukie) Best known for his hushed acoustic cover of the Knife's "Heartbeats," Sweden's José González is a good singer/songwriter, but hasn't done much to eclipse that first knockout. The real treat here is Mia Doi Todd, who combines the classic feel of Joni Mitchell with an almost David Byrne-esque world music inflection. Her voice is round and cool, her stories image-heavy without ever being heavy-handed. The seemingly straightforward style of her music has kept her outside the freak-folk explosion, while her eschewing any typical pop feel keeps her safely out of Norah Jones territory. The byproduct, unfortunately, is that she's never gotten the recognition she deserves, but lucky for us she sticks to her guns and is hitting the road once again. Catch her tonight and the rest of the show will be little more than a bonus. Miss her, and you may as well stay home. HANNAH CARLEN Also see My, What a Busy Week!.
GREYBOY ALLSTARS, BUSDRIVER
(Roseland, 8 NW 6th) Out of South Central LA's Project Blowed crew, Busdriver has carved a frenetic hiphop niche. His songs are a Masterpiece Ghettotech Theatre and he plays the role of speed-reading auctioneer. Busdriver's flows are precise and freely associative on RoadKillOvercoat, which was produced by DJ Nobody and Boom Bip. Topics cut quickly from casting agents, cowgirls, oxycodone, and suicide to brunch. "In the Polaroid at a get-together/Wearing a corduroy vest sweater," he "negates the myth of the great black boyfriend." Busdriver's spitfire delivery conjugates the grammatical latticework of a sentence like a jazz drummer dices a beat. Content is scattershot, but there's balance. TRENT MOORMAN
CAVES, THE COPS, DJ PRETTY PLEASE,
(Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison) You get the feeling that when the Cops saddled record number two with the title Free Electricity, they weren't talking about your PGE bill. Instead, the voltage here comes from a band that is absolutely restless in their own skin—a living, breathing, shimmying testament to the powers of stripped-down rock 'n' roll. Electricity is punk without actually taking the time to learn what punk is. The album is reckless and hazardous in a manner that few bands could pull off, but of course the Cops do so with flair, and the end result is bright enough to light the night sky. EAC
(Lola's Room, 1332 W Burnside) See Music Feature.
(Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside) See My, What a Busy Week!.
BIRDS OF AVALON, OLD GROWTH, HUNGRY GHOST, DJ AC/D
(East End, 203 SE Grand) Founded by a pair of former members of the Cherry Valence, Birds of Avalon veer heavily into a kind of fuzzed-out majesty, with notes both proudly resonating and slipping away into the haze. In the live setting, though, they can also bring out massive riffs (as on the Outer Upper Inner EP's "Earthbound") that should bring a grin to the face to anyone with even a residual interest in metal. At times, specifying their sound can be elusive, yet through the fuzz and the heroics, they don't cross the line into psychedelic mind-expansion or jaw-dropping technical skill. At their core, they're a solid rock band—and that in itself is a fine thing. TC
REVOLT REVOLT, THE CRASH ENGINE,
(Kelly's Olympian, 426 SW Washington) The Crash Engine owe quite a bit to emo elders of yore, with a sound that would be right at home during the heyday of bands like the Get Up Kids, No Knife, and especially Knapsack. Singer/frontman Alex Heller shares a similar breathy delivery to Blair Shehan (Knapsack, Jealous Sound), a stylistic way to make even the least descriptive of words hang heavy in the air with a sense of impending drama. So please don't hold it against the local (via Eugene) band for making an appearance on one of those dreadful Deep Elm Emo Diaries compilations. (Now on its 11th volume, the series is like the NOW! That's What I Call Music for shitty mall emo bands.) They are young, they didn't know better, and they needed the money. We've all been there at one time or another. EAC
THRONES, TECUMSEH, PUSSYGUTT,
(Towne Lounge, 714 SW 20th Pl) Before doom became a catch phrase—and on some unfortunate websites, a musical verb ("doom on," man)—and before one-man metal bands were commonplace, there was Thrones, the solo project of bassist/programmer Joe Preston (ex-Earth/Melvins/High on Fire). As far back as the mid-'90s, Preston was touring with his unusual setup, which took the massive downstrokes of Sabbath-heavy Earth and weirded them out with tidy effects. Back then it was considered noise; all signs pointed to Merzbow as Preston set off car alarms outside one Midwestern college-town bar, but it was good. The Need became a more accurate genre example, and when Preston partnered with the Olympia-based theatrical thrashers, it was something of a righteous new-millennium high. Then they broke up. Preston started touring as Thrones again in 2006. He's now linked to Sunn O))) and their Southern Lord Records. Different contemporaries, same Thrones. MIKE MEYER
SAVES THE DAY, ARMOR FOR SLEEP, SET YOUR GOALS, METRO
STATION, A CURSIVE MEMORY
(Wonder Ballroom, 128 NE Russell) Dear Lord, please forgive these children their sonic crimes. They've only just begun to truly listen to music, you see, and the well-worn, clichéd, three-chord pop-candy these artists deliver is all they know. For the moment, this passes for emotional honesty, but it won't last. Please also be kind to the members of Saves the Day, who are sweet enough, to be sure, but who ought to have worn out their welcome in this genre long ago. In exchange, Lord, I promise to work hard, to eat all my vegetables, to help ensure that the youth have more all-ages options in their town (hint, hint), and to make a mixtape for my little sister. Emo is just a phase, I promise. HC
(rontom's, 600 E Burnside) See My, What a Busy Week!.
(Roseland, 8 NW 6th) See Music Feature.
LAURA GIBSON, PER SE, MEYERCORD
(Towne Lounge, 714 SW 20th Pl) It seems like this paper exists for two reasons: (1) To help Portland's escort community find the best damn in-call or out-call clients. (2) For us to heap praise upon the stunning folk music of Laura Gibson. It's also very important to never confuse the two, since Gibson is a very classy lady and we will not hear otherwise. Currently working on a follow-up to her flawless debut If You Come to Greet Me, Gibson fills us in on all the details of record number two, and how it differentiates from her previous recording. "It's difficult for me to describe differences. Partly because I am still wrapping my head around the direction of the record, and partly because what might feel like leaps and bounds to me, may not translate as leaps and bounds to a person listening." She also adds, "I'm feeling a bit more ambitious, as far as arrangements, this time around." Gibson is about to head out on a tour with Colin Meloy and has just wrapped up a tour-only EP that features covers of traditionals and some older blues tracks as well. EAC
THE SABBATH: DRAGGED BY HORSES, STARANTULA, DJ NATE
(Rotture, 315 SE 3rd) Do trios just try harder? From Nirvana and Shellac to Russian Circles and Zoroaster, it's always fascinating to watch three-piece bands rival multi-axed armies on the volume Richter scale. Northern California's Dragged by Horses are the latest example of this phenomenon. Tracks from their new album, Deep in the Woods, never stray from singer/guitarist Pablo Midence's straight-ahead metallic churn, imagining the bright, rocket-launch skies of super-pop band Unrest colliding with Shellac-era Steve Albini (when Albini commits to riffing, anyway). Midence's angular, trembly strum is complemented by a more fluid rhythm section that nods to the Minutemen on "One Way Ticket to Rome," and Hella on "Mas Por Dinero." Sometimes, the best rock is unexpected. MM
THE LIVES OF FAMOUS MEN, THE PHOTO ATLAS, 1090 CLUB,
SOMETHING ABOUT AIRPLANES, THEART
(Satyricon, 125 NW 6th) The long shadow of At the Drive-In stretched far from the tight curls of their afro bobs, to both coasts, across the Great Plains, all the way over the peaks of the Rockies to Denver. There, it settled in with the Photo Atlas, a rambunctious quartet that has resurrected the dearly departed spirit of ATDI and done so quite respectfully. While many a band has gone to the same influential well (Christiansen, anyone?), the Photo Atlas did it the right way by simplifying those spastic post-punk rumblings until they developed into compact little rock songs buoyed by some excellent angular guitar work. It might not be the most creative of endeavors, but if you are going to rest beneath the legacy of a legendary band, this is how you do it. EAC
LOUIS XIV, WHAT MADE MILWAUKEE FAMOUS
(Hawthorne Theatre, 1507 SE 39th) Taking their name from a Jerry Lee Lewis song about beer, What Made Milwaukee Famous doesn't otherwise pay homage to vintage rock 'n' roll, and their music doesn't seem especially designed for popping tops, either. A fizzy cola, or a plain-tasting vodka drink, perhaps—WMMF certainly knows their way around a melody, but the Austin band doesn't put much grit or earthy sorrow into their songs. Instead, they run the gamut of contemporary indie rock styles, with a Julian Casablancas hangover mumble here, a Shins-y guitar twinkle there, a bit-synth arpeggio for good measure. WMMF is really at their most comfortable, though, when they embrace their radio pop tendencies full on; the wiry new wave rhythms of their debut are absent from their latest, What Doesn't Kill Us, replaced by anthemic major-chord guitar chugging and Michael Kingcaid's top-of-his lungs emoting. NL
STARFUCKER, ATOLE, DJ NATE C
(Tube, 18 NW 3rd) See My, What a Busy Week!.
(Aladdin Theater, 3017 SE Milwaukie) See My, What a Busy Week!.
LUCIANO, MIKEY GENERAL & JAHMESSENJAH BAND,
COPACRESCENT, SHOCKS OF SHEBA
(Lola's Room, 1332 W Burnside) Religious zeal never translated so well as it does in roots reggae. Irrespective of or indifferent to creed, it's a guaranteed global hip-rocker—although it has recently taken a back seat to its libertine li'l sis, dancehall. Meanwhile, pious Rastafari Luciano, whose one drops are mostly molasses-paced and equally sweet, is still sermonizing after all these years. On his latest album, Jah Is My Navigator, he pines for peace in Jamaica when not extolling the virtues of ethical living everywhere. A pure singer, Luciano is bearable even when the righteousness begins to chafe, an infrequent discomfort in these durably challenging times. JALYLAH BURRELL
LITTLE WINGS, LEE BAGGETT
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) Little Wings (AKA Kyle Field) is an act that has to be experienced live. Over the past five years, I've managed to watch as he turned living room floors into electrified dance parties, and turned record stores into sad, somber vigils. I once even followed him, like he was the Pied Piper, as he led a group of kids down to the beach to sit underneath the stars and sing in some sort of hippie peace circle. Even if you're not a fan of his Will Oldham-esque shambling folk songs, witnessed live, Little Wings is completely engaging and totally entertaining, and the man has some serious charisma to boot. I mean, he got me to participate in a hippie peace circle, and that has got to stand for something, right? ROB SIMONSEN
THE CRIBS, RA RA RIOT, JEFFREY LEWIS & THE
LOCH LOMOND, LE LOUP, THE RUBY SUNS
(Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison) See Music Feature.