CASEY NEILL AND THE NORWAY RATS, IAN MOORE AND THE LOSSY COILS, THE DON OF DIVISION STREET
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) For many folks, the turn of the calendar from one year to the next is prime time to reflect on life, assess the present, and cast an eye to the future. I'll submit that All You Pretty Vandals, the new album from local Americana band Casey Neill and the Norway Rats, is an excellent soundtrack for such an endeavor. Not because Neill—a respected and well-connected veteran of the Portland music scene—is in a reflective mood on the record, but simply because of its sound. Vandals is trademark Neill: rootsy and gently rockin', with regular excursions into Celtic and Irish sounds. Its easygoing charm and natural warmth feels soothing and necessary, especially in the deepest, grayest part of winter. BEN SALMON
SEAN FLINN AND THE ROYAL WE, RIO GRANDS, REBECCA MARIE MILLER
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) The core of Sean Flinn's musical magnetism is steeped in both the traditional flashes of pop-anthem dynamism and the tenets of progressive, chamber-style Americana. With that kind of crossfire, Flinn and his Royal We have (relatively quietly) proven themselves as one of the best bands in Portland. Flinn's own pedigree, having spent time in such groups as Y La Bamba, Nick Jaina, and Jolie Holland, is indisputable, and his crackerjack band has pushed Flinn's ambitious compositions to even higher levels of timelessness. Since the summer of 2012, the band has been in and out of the studio cutting their second album, The Lost Weekend, a sprawling collection with scrappy tales of wanderlust and woe from a songwriter who most definitely wears his old soul on his sleeve. With this upcoming release, Flinn's relative anonymity could be compromised. RYAN J. PRADO
CORRECTIONS HOUSE, WREKMEISTER HARMONIES, THE BODY, ROHIT, REDNECK
(Tonic Lounge, 3100 NE Sandy) When their respective heavy-rock bands aren't challenging the earth's tectonic plates to a ground-shaking contest, Mike IX Williams (Eyehategod), Scott Kelly (Neurosis), Bruce Lamont (Yakuza), and Sanford Parker (Nachtmystium) go full-on Voltron with their collaborative project Corrections House. Their combined sound is a more industrial one, akin to Coil or Laibach, with unnatural clacking scratching at the door while Williams barks and reads Burroughs-like poetry on the other side. If this sounds like your cup of tea, you also owe it to yourself to catch Redneck, a terrifying combination of performance art and subwoofer-heavy noise, who open up the show in celebration of a new cassette release, Possession, out on Eolian Empire. ROBERT HAM
(Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside) As a lifelong KISS fan, I'm familiar with the idea of a band that is unconditionally loved and simultaneously loathed. Such is the case with Floater, the longtime Portland band that for the better part of two decades has been able to easily sell out 2,000-seat theaters, while music critics give them the equivalent of the sound of crickets. They're inexplicably huge in the Northern California town where I used to live—their fanbase so blindly devoted I wondered if Floater records came with vials of Flavor Aid. In all honesty, I can get behind their 1998 concept album Angels in the Flesh and Devils in the Bone, a nerdy epic filled with proggy turns, big guitars, and psychedelic lulls. But, as with many bands, I'd rather listen to it in the privacy of my own home than brave the horde of overly faithful ghouls. MARK LORE
THANKS, BROWNISH BLACK, DJ COOKY PARKER
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) I'm not the first to point out how six-piece Portland band Thanks incorporates soul into their decidedly black-hearted indie rock. You probably aren't going to mistake their new full-length Blood Sounds for Lady Soul or anything like that, so I suppose the soul connection is just easy shorthand for saying that Thanks' music is vital, gripping, and different. Indeed, Blood Sounds is an apt name for this terrific, fiery collection, as the music is bloody and bruised, forming tightly controlled tantrums of melody and rhythm, marshaled by Jimi Hendrix's commanding voice (yes, that is her name). What none of this conveys, though, is how the end result effectively becomes fun, bright pop of a very high caliber, with indestructible, earworm-y songs, and beats that implore you to move. Consider Thanks' Blood Sounds the first great Portland album of 2014. NED LANNAMANN
BIKE THIEF, RARE MONK, SAMA DAMS
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) Portland's Sama Dams have more than a few things going for them. Their moniker is topical, in a 2008 sort of way, seemingly referencing the mayoral run of Sam Adams (in fact, it's the jiggered name of the band's frontman, also named Sam Adams). Much more importantly, the band possesses the ability to harness severe, atmospheric, and expansive panoramas of sound that dip into and out of whirlpools of electronic psych, plaintive OK Computer-era Radiohead realms, and beyond. The trio's 2013 release, No Vengeance, is particularly indefinable; Adams' voice captains songs like the manic "Coyote Dreams in the City" through sonic twists and turns both beautifully calming and violently jarring. It's one of the more inspired releases to come out of Portland last year, and the band should garner further attention with their upcoming album, the funding of which recently made its $10,000 goal on Kickstarter with a mere 68 (presumably deep-pocketed) backers. RJP
TENNIS, POOR MOON
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) When their reminiscent, sweet-pop doo-wop suddenly set sail in 2010, the narrative surrounding Tennis was more than a ray of sun—it was the wind at their back. The story goes something like this: A couple moves aboard a boat and traverses the Eastern Seaboard while musically collaborating for the first time. They emerge with a '60s girl-pop concept and material for an album. Journalists—myself included—couldn't help themselves. And while Tennis' sweet, safe, harmonious, and meticulous comforts are indeed worthwhile, it's hard to imagine that a non-couple in a dank, wintry basement couldn't have caught a similar wave. As for Tennis, now some years in, their narrative becoming less of a buoy, the real work begins. Can they capture the same wonder without the context? Their November EP, Small Sound, seems to suggest so. If you're into swooning, boat-shoe preppy rock, then, by all means, climb aboard! ANDREW R TONRY Also see My, What a Busy Week!
BLACKWITCH PUDDING, BLACK WIZARD, BLACK SNAKE
(Ash Street Saloon, 225 SW Ash) If stoner rock as a genre can lord anything over its other heavy brethren, it's the sensuality baked into its slinky riffs and its palpable sense of humor. What else could explain why the three members of Blackwitch Pudding refer to themselves as wizards, named their debut album Taste the Pudding, and play songs with titles like "Gathering Panties" and "Super Sluts from Outer Space"? Laughable, yes, but damn if the trio doesn't make it seem absolutely crucial to hang onto every Hawkwind-inspired guitar solo, or get wrapped up in vocals that move from winking to growling in a matter of seconds. RH
Happy 33rd birthday, Houston rapper Mike Jones! Your music hasn't aged a day.
PICKWICK, LOST LANDER, MAGIC FADES
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) Nothing is as satisfying as seeing a cheap show, especially when the show is actually good, and not just a family jam band playing at the local burger joint in matching Goodwill sweaters. This $3 show includes local favorites Lost Lander and Magic Fades, with Seattle's Pickwick headlining. Those who like Fleet Foxes and lots of vocal reverb will enjoy the smooth aural caresses of Lost Lander. Magic Fades plays tasty, spliced slow jams that define so much of EDM-informed R&B. Then there's Pickwick, who sound like the Black Keys after they Fitzed and Tantrumed their way to become poppier and more uptempo. The show's caveat is that you have to RSVP with Red Bull first—and even that won't prevent you from potentially ending up at the end of a very long line, shaking in the cold as you wait to head down the Doug Fir steps. ROSE FINN Also see My, What a Busy Week!
NO BIRD SING, HIVES INQUIRY SQUAD
(Alhambra Theatre, 4811 SE Hawthorne) No Bird Sing is a three-piece group from Minneapolis that features emcee/vocalist Joe Horton rapping and singing over soundscapes provided by a guitarist and drummer duo, who double as producers in the studio. It's telling that they've toured with Doomtree's Dessa and are signed to the label run by Sage Francis, as No Bird Sing's music attacks with a visceral wave that descends from the same unique corner of indie-rap. For tonight's show, they reached out to Portland's Hives Inquiry Squad, former Midwesterners who shared a bill with them back in the day. Emcee Lucas Dix's partner and Hives collaborator Gavin Theory sadly passed away in April of 2012, but he's working on a final Hives project rapping over some of the last beats that Gavin made. Dix will debut that material live tonight, alongside songs from his Jellyfish Brigade project. RYAN FEIGH