QUIET LIFE, ARK LIFE, LOST CITIES
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) Quiet Life is ostensibly a Portland band, but it's been a while since the rock 'n' rollers played a show here. Think of tonight, then, as a kind of homecoming, and they've got a brand-new EP to go along with it. Housebroken Man was pieced together from sessions across the country, and it features some of frontman Sean Spellman's best and most cutting songs yet, including the rambunctious title track (which features a guest vocal from Shovels and Rope's Cary Ann Hearst), and the terrific, devastating goodbye hymn "Shaky Hand." My Morning Jacket's Jim James also turns up on a Townes Van Zandt cover, while "Reckless Kind" sounds like it was recorded at the bottom of a well. Following a difficult breakup—which is well chronicled on Housebroken Man—Spellman's been roaming around the country (although his brother, Quiet Life drummer Ryan Spellman, has stayed put here in town, more or less). With plans for a full-length next year, tonight's show should mark the beginning of a happier, more stable period for the band, and they definitely deserve it. NED LANNAMANN
STELTH ULVANG, SPIRITS OF THE RED CITY, NICK JAINA
(The Old Church, 1422 SW 11th) Nick Jaina has endless aces up his sleeve. Other than his charming pop pieces, he's composed music for modern dance, kept up as a columnist and blogger, written a non-fiction book set for release in 2015, and soundtracked film. He's a true role model for artists living in these multi-tasking modern times. Jaina will sonically fill the Old Church, along with Stelth Ulvang (pianist for the Lumineers... HEY!) and Spirits of the Red City, a beautiful seven-piece with sonic purity and a polite demeanor that's hard to come by. All this, combined with the strong, open acoustics of the Old Church, is bound to make for an evening of hardy, pleasing resonance. ROBIN BACIOR
HUEY LEWIS AND THE NEWS, BOX SET
(Oregon Zoo, 4001 SW Canyon) I was born nearly a decade after Huey Lewis and the News' Sports came out, so I don't have any sentimental attachment to the record. The schmaltzy '80s production is difficult to penetrate in a modern context, and for a supposedly "classic" album, Sports sure boasts a disproportionate number of awful songs (the aptly titled "Bad is Bad"). But shit, some of this stuff is also great: mega-hits "Heart and Soul" and "I Want a New Drug" (which you might also recognize as the Ghostbusters theme song) are timeless, and fairly flawless, pop gems, assuming you're able to look past the embarrassing generational motifs. "Walking on a Thin Line" and "If This Is It" even sound sort of like Jackson Browne in a Members Only jacket. There's quite a bit of hidden treasure on Sports—just don't spring for the 30th anniversary reissue. I'm sure your dad would love to let you borrow his copy. MORGAN TROPER
DOUBLEPLUSGOOD, GOLD CASIO, SMALL SKIES
(Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison) You Can Master Life is the title of DoublePlusGood's upcoming record, and if you're familiar with the band's Northwest take on heart-on-sleeve New Romanticism, you know why that's funny. The long-running Portland act returns with album number three next month on frontman Erik Carlson's SoHiTek label, once again delivering plenty of synthy hooks and melodies. There don't seem to be any answers to life's big questions, but you will find PDX Pop Now! comp standout "Sometimes" and last-gasp-of-summer mixtape go-to "He Must Be Lieing," among others in an enjoyably melancholic collection. Wednesday's Holocene show offers a first chance to hear many of the new songs live, as well as the debut of Adventure Galley disco offshoot Gold Casio. JEREMY PETERSEN
CAHALEN MORRISON AND COUNTRY HAMMER, ED AND THE RED REDS, LONE MADRONE
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) If you're suffering from Pickathon withdrawal, Cahalen Morrison has just the fix you need. The Seattle country songwriter played that festival just a few short weekends ago, of course, but he's been saving the release of his new album for August 19, and tonight he jaunts back to Portland with his band Country Hammer for a record release show. The Flower of Muscle Shoals won't break any molds; it simply provides further evidence that the Pacific Northwest continues to be a weirdly suitable place for country and roots music to flourish. Its 12 tracks are all in the classic-country vein, designed for live performance in honky-tonks and dancehalls. Supposedly, Morrison's lyrics are influenced by writers such as Tomas Tranströmer and Gabriel García Márquez, but you won't catch any literary ambitions the first time through The Flower of Muscle Shoals. Instead, Morrison upholds the country songwriting tradition of simplicity and directness, telling these basic tales of love and loss with candor and ease. NL
(Various locations) Read our article on Festicide.
MUSICFESTNW: GIRL TALK, PHANTOGRAM, RUN THE JEWELS, FUTURE ISLANDS, MAN MAN, GARDENS AND VILLA, THUNDERCAT, SHY GIRLS, LANDLADY
(Tom McCall Waterfront Park, SW Yamhill & Naito) The changes to MusicfestNW taking effect this year are well documented: Instead of taking place at multiple venues over several days in September, this year's MFNW is a two-day August concert happening at Waterfront Park, and the number of bands performing has been slimmed down from well over 150 to a streamlined 18. (A handful of auxiliary events and shows are also happening in and around the festival; visit musicfestnw.com for full details.) While criticism of the change has been loud—and perhaps justified—it's also an opportunity for Portland to gain something new in its place, and the bill for both days has only a couple of weak patches. I'm excited for it. (I'm also, selfishly, excited about getting a hell of a lot more sleep during Musicfest week.) Tonight's headlined by mash-up artist/frat-party totem Girl Talk, who makes irritating music for people who like to pat themselves on the back for recognizing obvious samples of incredibly popular songs. For a set of real bumpers, though, don't miss Run the Jewels, the duo of El-P and rapper Killer Mike, who's one of the most charismatic emcees out there. This year's MFNW also marks the bittersweet departure of festival director Trevor Solomon, who's been a tremendous force in the Portland music scene and is now taking his talents to Boston. He'll be replaced by Monqui's Matthew McLean, who's no slouch in the booking department. NL Also, read our article on Landlady.
FESTICIDE: THRONES, SEDAN, DISEMBALLERINA, ACRE
(High Water Mark, 6800 NE MLK) Sometimes it's cathartic to feel sad—especially when the catalyst is bleak, sorrowful music. When just the right tragic notes are woven together into a beautiful and dark tapestry of sound, that swelling in your chest as your heart breaks can be a powerful feeling. On their most recent long-player, Undertaker, Disemballerina have penned seven sweeping, emotional tracks that are as spiritually expansive as they are somber. Without vocals or percussion, the trio still speak volumes, with an arsenal of instruments that includes acoustic guitars, violas, violins, and mandolins. While the sonic equivalent to misery and death may seem like a real downer, it isn't when it's bellowing from talented individuals who have clearly poured their beings into their music—as Disemballerina has. ARIS WALES Also, read our article on Festicide.
FRINGE NIGHTS 2014: DR. AMAZON, ALTO!, CONSUMER, LAPSED BAPTIST & MORE
(Habesha, 801 NE Broadway) The tiny bar above the Habesha Ethiopian restaurant has long been a welcome home to experimental performers of all stripes. During this weekend of festival upon festival, Habesha's savvy booker Brandon Nikola and the gents behind Sonic Debris Multimedia celebrate this fact with two nights stuffed with sound. Highlights include Daniel Schultz's Lapsed Baptist, an exploration of his religious beliefs via ear-shredding noise; a collaboration between avant guitarist Doug Theriault and space-jazz trio Stochastic Mettle Union; Consumer's melding of hiphop into Hella-esque speed pop; and the instrumental trio Alto!, which takes the raw elements of Asian and African music and molds them into an awe-inspiring edifice of rhythm and Derek Monypeny's guitar mastery. ROBERT HAM
BENJAMIN BOOKER (early show)
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) Hail, hail the next big thing in soulful rock 'n' roll: Benjamin Booker, a NOLA singer, songwriter, and shredder whose new self-titled album is a furnace blast of fun. This dude has it all—classic guitar riffs and solos, the perfectly raspy voice, a powerful and primitive drummer. He puts it all together in a way that sounds plucked from a mythical 1960s Detroit in which the Funk Brothers and the Stooges merged into one smokin' super-band. Booker's not hurting for attention; he has already played late-night TV shows, signed with rootsy tastemaker ATO Records, and been tapped to open for Jack White. But on Saturday, he'll play a free, early evening patio show at the Doug Fir Lounge. Catch it while you can, because next time Booker comes to town, he'll play somewhere much bigger and tickets will cost a lot more than nothing. The guy is going places. BEN SALMON
KAYLEE ROB, JASON LYTLE
(The Waypost, 3120 N Williams) The Waypost is the type of spot that makes all visitors truly feel part of the neighborhood. It's not the most professional stage or the most glorious sound quality, but there's always a community that shows up and the mood is always right—and those latter qualities trump the former in the makings of a good show. Soundtracking the space will be Jason Lytle of Grandaddy, who's got that smooth, nearly breathy vocal styling that's practically the sound of the '90s indie explosion. Sharing the evening is Kaylee Rob (AKA Kevin Robinson), with electronic tail-swaggering beats and soul-filled pop vocal melodies. You're bound to shake your shoulders a bit. RB
AUGUST ALSINA, EASY MCCOY
(Alhambra Theatre, 4811 SE Hawthorne) "Testify," the opening track for August Alsina's debut album, Testimony, starts all kinds of wrong. With maudlin, "woe-is-me" piteousness, the New Orleans singer details a difficult upbringing, and in the process breaks the cardinal rule of making interesting art: conveying a personal experience without attempting to find a universal and worthwhile truth in it. But that's par for the course with a lot of current pop and R&B music (see also: the WTF-shitballs-bananas closing title track of Mariah Carey's recent Me. I Am Mariah... The Elusive Chanteuse), and in spite of this "Dear Diary" setback, Alsina is able to transform "Testify" into something extraordinary—a moving, melancholy, modern R&B song that, eventually, reveals his rather remarkable talent. Other than a few further indulgences, the rest of Testimony is equally as compelling, pointing to Alsina as a major new R&B voice. He's already huge, and will only get bigger, and justifiably so. NL
MONTAVILLA JAZZ FESTIVAL: RICH HALLEY QUARTET, RYAN MEAGHER, BLUE CRANES, TRIO FLUX, & MORE
(Milepost 5, 850 NE 81st) The jazz scene here is a great one, by anyone's reckoning. But it's also one that puts the spotlight on easily digestible acts that go down smooth during the dinner hour. The weekend-long Montavilla Jazz Festival, held inside the Milepost 5 art collective just off NE 82nd, brings the attention to the thriving underground, where Blue Cranes are kings and queen. Curated by the Portland Jazz Composers Ensemble, this little festival has drawn a wealth of local players and groups including headlining sets by the Cranes and Dave Friesen's trio Circle 3. Surrounding those are sets by Theoretical Planets, the post-bop trio led by drummer George Colligan; the Sun Ra-like sonic wanderings of Optic Nerve Trio; and a set by the PJCE's core sextet in collaboration with local treasure Darrell Grant. RH
(Various locations) Read our article on Festicide.
FRINGE NIGHTS 2014
(Habesha, 801 NE Broadway) See Saturday's listing.
MONTAVILLA JAZZ FESTIVAL
(Milepost 5, 850 NE 81st) See Saturday's listing.
TACOCAT, TIJUANA PANTHERS
(Bunk Bar, 1028 SE Water) Last month, Scott Pilgrim creator Bryan Lee O'Malley made a stop in Seattle to promote his latest graphic novel, Seconds. As part of an event titled "Verse Chapter Verse," O'Malley's Q&A was sandwiched between performances by Seattle pop-punk quartet Tacocat. How I wish I could have attended. Seconds has made for my favorite read of the summer, and I've had Tacocat's NVM stuck on repeat more than any other album released this year. Both O'Malley and Tacocat have crafted infectious worlds within sugarcoated music and illustrations. In fact, Tacocat could have easily inhabited the world of Scott Pilgrim: The band's sharp-witted lyrics hit at real issues, but they do so through an undeniably sun-drenched satirical lens. Tacocat's music proves the perfect pairing to O'Malley's playful meditations on entering adulthood in the information age, and both cleverly utilize humor as a means to defuse strenuous situations. Also, they're a lot of fun. CHIPP TERWILLIGER Also see My, What a Busy Week!
SUPERCHUNK, BLANK RANGE, RADIATION CITY
(Star Theater, 13 NW 6th) Superchunk's 2013 record I Hate Music hardly embodies the emotional, frantic power pop that characterizes the group's more popular, punk-informed material. Instead, it seems geared toward fans of their restrained, late-'90s efforts Indoor Living and Come Pick Me Up. This was pretty much exemplified by the group's MusicfestNW set last year, where fist-pumping standbys like "Cast Iron" and "Driveway to Driveway" were eschewed in favor of weirdo cuts like "Hello Hawk." But that's not any real threat to the group's edge: Superchunk are still a tremendous live animal even when exploring the mellower side of their canon, and vocalist/guitarist Mac McCaughan is still the same frighteningly energetic, impetuous guitar anti-hero, despite the fact that he's an adult now with a really prestigious day job. There's no telling what the future has in store for Superchunk—but it's probably gonna rule. MT Also see My, What a Busy Week!
THE MURDER CITY DEVILS, DEEP CREEP, COREY BREWER
(Dante's, 350 W Burnside) The Murder City Devils were hot business in the late '90's and early 2000s. They built a cult legacy and a dedicated fanbase in five short years, with just three full-lengths and an EP before they split up in 2001. After popping back up for a few select shows in 2006 and 2007, it seemed like the band was just reuniting for a few cash grabs here and there to make ends meet. But on August 5, the Murder City Devils released The White Ghost Has Blood on Its Hands Again, effectively clearing their name and firmly wedging my foot in my mouth. The White Ghost doesn't ooze as much rock 'n' roll swagger as their self-titled debut, but it's still raw, honest, and seemingly fetched from the same dank gutters and shadowed alleys as their best records. The screaming, drunken-preacher poetry of Spencer Moody hasn't changed a bit either, making the 13-year wait since the Murder City Devils' last release seem fleeting. AW Also see My, What a Busy Week!
MUSICFESTNW: SPOON, HAIM, TUNE-YARDS, FUCKED UP, THE ANTLERS, WILD ONES, EMA, MODERN KIN, THE DISTRICTS
(Tom McCall Waterfront Park, SW Yamhill & Naito) Day Two of Musicfest boasts an undeniably stronger lineup, including the effervescently great Haim—perhaps the only music that my six-year-old niece and I can agree on (sorry, Frozen soundtrack)—and the lovely, forlorn Antlers. But really, tonight's all about Spoon, who just dropped a great, late-model album in the form of They Want My Soul. Their eighth full-length since 1996, it's an assured, catchy, cool rock record that broadens the band's reach immensely, a happy change since 2010's deliberately inward-gazing Transference. We've reached the point where it's possible to have endlessly lengthy debates about the best Spoon album: 2001's Girls Can Tell gets all the indie cred, while 2007's Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga has both their biggest pop moment ("The Underdog") and their artiest masterwork ("The Ghost of You Lingers"). As for me, I'm still firmly in the Kill the Moonlight/Gimme Fiction camp, but who knows? Given enough time, They Want My Soul might give them a run for their money. NL Also, read our articles on Fucked Up and EMA.
BORIS, MARRIAGES, MASTER MUSICIANS OF BUKKAKE
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) The one constant in the Boris catalog is that the Japanese band doesn't do the same thing twice. (Unless you count calling a record Heavy Rocks—they definitely did that twice.) But over the course of two decades, 19 full-lengths, and more splits, EPs, and singles than we can count, the trio has cranked out drone-metal epics, stoner-rock rippers, walls of noise, shoegazey beauty, and dabbled more than a few times in bubblegum pop. That pull in a million different directions might be why the trio of records the band released in 2011 (Attention Please, New Album, and the second Heavy Rocks) didn't resonate like earlier albums. But the recently released Noise is the best album they've made in years, partly because they let all those different impulses exist on the same disc rather than parsing them across several. MATTHEW W. SULLIVAN
THE STOPS, KITTEN FOREVER, PINK PILE, IS/IS
(High Water Mark, 6800 NE MLK) It's a good week for feminist punk bands with feline-inspired names. But unlike Tacocat, Kitten Forever opts for a fuzzed-out sound that's raw and direct. The Minneapolis trio features Corrie Harrigan on drums, Laura Larson on bass, and Liz Elton on vocals, and their minimalist set-up takes nothing away from the end sound, as Kitten Forever nails down a fleshed-out feeling that speaks volumes. The 13 songs found on last year's double 7-inch, Pressure, come across as warped and distorted cheerleader chants—half party, half punk, bringing to mind the playful urgency displayed by Pottymouth-era Bratmobile. The returning, much-loved Riot Grrrl Karaoke is right around the corner (it hits the Foggy Notion on August 23), so if you need a last-minute class in fronting a band, it would be in your best interest to swing by the High Water Mark tonight for a crash course from Kitten Forever. CT
US LIGHTS, HOSANNAS, YEAH GREAT FINE
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) Us Lights' impending release may be their debut, but it some ways it feels like something the group has been working toward for a few records, if not a few incarnations. Though the Portland band officially formed last year, you'll hear remnants of Brothers Young and Hurtbird. Singer Michael Young's soaring vocal presence, which he's brought in one form or another to all three acts, is the most immediately obvious common element, but the bands also share a handful of other members. This isn't to say that Us Lights aren't doing something different than what's come before (they are), but that difference exists more as a shift in sonic sensibility than any wholesale genre-jumping. It's also an evolution. Us Lights kick off their tour Wednesday, and tour Europe at the end of August and beginning of September. JP Also see My, What a Busy Week!