CONOR OBERST, JONATHAN WILSON
(Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside) Conor Oberst devotees likely have their tickets to this show clutched firmly in hand, but let me make a case for opener Jonathan Wilson, who's best known for his production work for Father John Misty and Bonnie "Prince" Billy. (He also produced Oberst's latest, Upside Down Mountain.) On his own, however, Wilson has released a pair of beguiling solo LPs via Bella Union: 2011's Gentle Spirit, in particular, is a winner, splitting the difference between Pink Floyd and Yes, but with, like, way more weed. Wilson did a hazy, dazey daytime set at this year's Sasquatch! fest that was definitely one of the weekend's highlights. Even if you forget to bring your vape pen to the Crystal tonight, his noodly tunes guarantee a contact high. NED LANNAMANN See All-Ages Action!
CROWBAR, REVOCATION, FIT FOR AN AUTOPSY, ARMED FOR THE APOCALYPSE, WITCHBURN, WORLD OF LIES
(Dante's, 350 W Burnside) Kirk Windstein jettisoned Down (his longtime "side project" with pal and former Pantera vocalist Phil Anselmo) to reconvene with his original New Orleans metal band Crowbar. The big, bristly frontman pulled together a new crew for this year's surprisingly killer Symmetry in Black, which delivers the sludgy riffs found on the band's earlier records, Obedience Thru Suffering and their 1993 breakthrough self-titled LP. Subtlety and dynamics have never been Crowbar's forte; instead they bludgeon listeners with down-tuned guitars that deliver the blunt force of the band's namesake. It's kinda like banging your head inside a cement mixer. MARK LORE Also read our article on Revocation.
WHIRR, SPECIAL EXPLOSION, SIOUX FALLS, YOUR RIVAL
(Slabtown, 1033 NW 16th) On their last two trips to Portland, Bay Area noise-rock outfit Whirr rode into town with Nothing, their Philadelphia-based partners in crime. The bill made for a fantastic evening of guitar-heavy dream-rock, and I'm not sure my ears have been the same since. Extensive touring together led to Whirr frontman and guitarist Nick Bassett taking up bass in Nothing, essentially making Whirr a bicoastal band. This time through, Whirr takes center spotlight, touring in support of their recently released sophomore album, Sway. The record wastes no time embracing Whirr's heavy side, unleashing a charged aural attack from every angle, with Bassett's starry-eyed, fragile vocals floating far off in the melodic mist. Original-era shoegaze fans will cozy right up to Whirr's comfortable and familiar take on the genre. CHIPP TERWILLIGER
BRUMES, DOUGLAS DETRICK
(Revival Drum Shop, 2045 SE Ankeny) Portland minimalist composer Desiree' Rousseau and her roommate Susana Feliz make disarmingly gorgeous, improvised ambient music under the moniker Brumes. On their latest collection, Soundings in Fathom, a wide variety of instruments, textures, and tones meet under a curtain of reverb and delay. Think Eluvium's Talk Amongst the Trees, or Colleen's The Golden Morning Breaks (it's that good). Eight improvised compositions float along expertly, full of warmth and occasional moments of soaring vocals. They're pieces that slowly open, expand, pass along something wise or hard to express, and disappear. JOSHUA JAMES AMBERSON
(Music Millennium, 3158 E Burnside) Body Questions, the sixth album from Floating Action—AKA North Carolina pop maestro Seth Kauffman—is a tiny marvel, filled with indelible melodies and crisp, bright arrangements. In fact, any one of its 12 tunes is qualified to become your new favorite, as each is uniformly ripe with a catchy, classicist-pop arrangement and a few left turns of intrigue, such as the backward guitar on splendid album opener "Taking Me a Little While" or the insistent conga that taps through "Earth-Shackles." It's a sleeper of an album, but don't snooze on it—Body Questions is really something wonderful and increasingly rare: a jangling, compact pop record with just the right amount of shagginess. Floating Action aren't playing a club gig this time out, so this early evening in-store performance at Music Millennium will have to suffice. NL
MOPE GROOVES, THERAPISTS, PSYCHOMAGIC, FINE PETS
(Clinton Street Theater, 2522 SE Clinton) See All-Ages Action!
THURSTON MOORE, SMEGMA
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) Let's face facts: Outside of a possible Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction, we're probably never going to see Sonic Youth onstage together again. Sad though that may be, the group's individual members are keeping busy, especially co-founder Thurston Moore. The gangly guitarist spent this summer as "improviser in residence" at the Hopscotch Festival in North Carolina, and has two LPs ready for release, including The Best Day, a startlingly vital and noisy collection of songs due out on Matador on October 20. (His collaboration with drummer John Moloney, Full Bleed, will come out next year.) Featuring former Sonic Youth bandmate Steve Shelley, My Bloody Valentine bassist Deb Googe, and Nought's James Sedwards on guitar, The Best Day showcases Moore's ability to find new wrinkles in the threadbare fabric of guitar-based rock. ROBERT HAM Also see My, What a Busy Week!
FIN DE CINEMA: THE FRUIT OF PARADISE: FANNO CREEK, BEN DARWISH, COCO COLUMBIA, MURMUR RING
(Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison) Tonight Holocene turns into an art house, where Vra Chytilová's 1970 film The Fruit of Paradise will be screened and paired with a live score. The Czech director's work was banned in her home country during the '60s, although her films won international acclaim. This experimental tale of Adam and Eve will be accompanied by performances from local musicians of all genres, including guitar folkers Fanno Creek, pop composer Ben Darwish (Morning Ritual), and Murmur Ring, an ambient-tone project by Jem Marie of the Ghost Ease, in what is sure to be a gorgeous night of cinema and music. RACHEL MILBAUER
A CERTAIN SMILE, LITERATURE, LUBEC
(The Foggy Notion, 3416 N Lombard) Literature's debut full-length, 2012's Arab Spring, was one of the best pure-pop releases of the year, recalling the most enduring aspects of C86 jangle, chord-loving, classicist '60s pop bands like the Hollies and the Zombies, and the angular ricketiness of the Clean. It's no surprise that their sophomore LP, the aptly titled Chorus, was picked up by Slumberland, a pop-centric label with a virtually flawless track record. The aforementioned ricketiness of previous releases is exchanged on Chorus for an inescapable '80s sheen that unfortunately tempers the group's enthusiasm somewhat, but the songwriting itself is as strong as ever—in particular, Anglophilic opener "The Girl, the Gold Watch, and Everything" and future-quintessential twee anthem "Tie-Dye (Your Life)." MORGAN TROPER
DAN BERN, CLEOPATRA DEGHER
(The Old Church, 1422 SW 11th) Dan Bern is an insuppressible fount of creativity, having written more songs than any reasonable person needs to, on topics ranging from baseball to the Beatles, from Bush II to babies (as on his 2009 album for kids, Two Feet Tall). Some of them are unqualified classics ("Black Tornado," "Tiger Woods"), and others are total goofs, but Bern sees each one through with the dedication of a true craftsman. Tonight offers two assured pleasures: witnessing Bern roll off dozens of songs from his factory line—a handful of which are guaranteed to give you chills—and sitting in a pew in the lovely Old Church, a setting that can transform even an ordinary performance into something special. (And church or no, Bern'll probably curse once or twice.) NL
GUANTANAMO BAYWATCH, THELMA AND THE SLEAZE
(Bunk Bar, 1028 SE Water) Nashville power trio Thelma and the Sleaze plays dirt-punk guitar rock that blurs the line between sexy and vulgar. It's no wonder they've caught the attention of Burger Records, who are quick to scoop up bands that push and meld boundaries with tantalizing force. The Sleaze is a strong and fitting band to celebrate the release of the sixth issue of She Shreds, a magazine highlighting women guitarists and bassists of all genres and backgrounds. They'll play alongside local surf-rock and shock heroes Guantanamo Baywatch and a secret special guest band, guaranteeing a night of raucous music and rippin' ladies. RM
MERCHANDISE, LOWER, ARCTIC FLOWERS
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) A product of Tampa's hardcore scene, the members of Merchandise played in a handful of abrasive punk acts before breaking out with 2012's sprawling pop masterpiece, Children of Desire. On that album, Merchandise pulled a complete U-turn on the brutal noise-driven scene they helped build, instead opting to channel the sounds of English post-punk bands like the Cure and Depeche Mode. Merchandise's recent 4AD debut, After the End, signals the start of another chapter. Gone are all of the experimental tendencies and 10-minute shape-shifting workouts; they've been replaced with a focused collection of straight-up pop gems. The fact that the gorgeous album was still somehow recorded in closets around the band's Tampa home makes it pretty evident that Merchandise have clung tight to their DIY ideologies. Tonight, Danish punk outfit Lower—a band that emerged from the fertile Copenhagen underground—provides the heavy anchor to Merchandise's romantic voyage. CT
THE QUICK AND EASY BOYS, TANGO ALPHA TANGO, HILL DOGS
(Wonder Ballroom, 128 NE Russell) Follow Us Overboard is the Quick and Easy Boys' fourth album, and the Portland three-piece recorded it in Modest Mouse's studio with Los Lobos' Steve Berlin. It's a busy, scraggly album that spills over at its seams, with short, iPad-recorded interludes interspersed with longer, more developed tracks. Funk and psychedelia are the band's primary touchpoints here, but there's also room for soulful, skipping pop in "I Go Walking" and the ambitiously soaring "Chasing Shadows," which marries glam rock with Joshua Tree-era U2 bravado. It's a total mixed bag, but sifting through the detours is part of the record's charm. Tonight, the Boys play their record-release show for the aptly named Follow Us Overboard, and with that title, how can you resist? NL
BIGMO, ELTON CRAY, REY TOTEM, POE ADDICT, LUNCHTIME LEGENDS, STARGAZER, BEATHOVEN, BRYCE LANG
(The Rose, 111 SW Ash) Tonight finds the Green Luck Media Group deviating from the traditional show format by showcasing a unique combination of local emcees and producers. This curatorial cross-pollination features two of their own acts, namely the production duo Lunchtime Legends and thought-provoking Arab American rapper BigMo. Other guests include the boundary-pushing soundscapes of Bryce Lang and up-and-coming emcee Elton Cray. Lang's music is breezy, bordering on psychedelic—enjoyable both as standalone tracks as well as backdrops for his Renaissance Coalition cohorts to rap over. Elton Cray's latest mixtape, Cralien: Life of Mine Volume 1, is an ambitious, 20-track effort that expertly captures the angst of adolescence as it transforms into the discovery and self-definition of young adulthood. RYAN FEIGH
THE SONICS, THE SUICIDE NOTES, THE PYNNACLES, THEE HEADLINERS
(Hawthorne Theatre, 1507 SE César E. Chávez) Although the British Invasion spawned countless American bands in garages across the country, groups like the Wailers and the Sonics were already making skronky, soul-infused rock years beforehand—right here in the Pacific Northwest. The Sonics' classic 1965 LP Here Are the Sonics is a primal slab of rock that still holds up remarkably well. Songs like "The Witch," "Strychnine," and "Have Love, Will Travel"—and, in particular, keyboardist Jerry Roslie's vocals—can still peel the paint from the walls. In fact, the singer put it best when the Mercury interviewed him last year: "Rock 'n' roll—it's the only place you can scream like that without going to jail." ML
THE BODY, SANDWORM, RABBITS, HANG THE OLD YEAR
(Slabtown, 1033 NW 16th) On their new split LP for Thrill Jockey, the Body and Sandworm take two very different paths to the same dark place. The former—originally from Providence, now based in Portland—uses its side to explore a 16-minute expanse of heavy, disorienting noise, where soul-shuddering guitars rumble across lurching inhuman rhythms, and disembodied howls float through a wall of harsh noise. (In other words, it's the Body being the Body!) On the flip, Providence's Sandworm blasts through 10 tracks of bone-jarring, blackened punk. The duo's song structures are more traditionally rock 'n' roll (a nice contrast to the Body's terror-sprawl), but the vocals are shredded beyond recognition. With song titles like "Only Tears" and "Black Hatred (True Hatred)," however, it seems safe to assume Sandworm shares the Body's bleak worldview. The two bands play Slabtown tonight, where they'll be joined by Portland noise-sludge specialists Rabbits, among others. BEN SALMON Also see All-Ages Action!
SEBADOH, THE PYNNACLES
(Star Theater, 13 NW 6th) Sebadoh have never quite gotten the respect they deserve. Despite helping define lo-fi rock music in the late '80s and writing some of the best songs of '90s indie rock, they've never graduated to legendary status like so many bands of that time period. Perhaps it's because their albums are, to the casual listener, disorienting collections that mix power-pop gems with minute-long slop-punk songs and tender folk ballads with careless abandon. Even on their most cohesive, and arguably greatest, album—1994's Bakesale—there's still the divide between the group's two singer/songwriters. Lou Barlow's folk-pop leanings and carefully enunciated vocals collide with Jason Loewenstein's drunken drawl and garage-rock tendencies with train-wreck intensity. If you can make it past this dichotomy, though, many amazing songs await you. JJA
DEAF WISH, COMM, DARK/LIGHT
(The Know, 2026 NE Alberta) When you live far away from Melbourne, Australia, it can be easy to forget that one of the world's finest music scenes simmers there (despite the tireless efforts of Nick Cave). Even so, it feels like there are a lot of great artists making their way stateside from Melbourne: Dick Diver, Scott and Charlene's Wedding, the great Courtney Barnett, and now Sub Pop's latest discovery, Deaf Wish. Next week, the Seattle super-indie will release the quartet's North American debut, a four-song single called "St. Vincent's," which finds the band veering back and forth between noisy, dead-eyed post-punk and a slightly more approachable, Pavement-y brand of jangle-rock. The whole thing is dipped in hiss and echo and slathered in sneer, a glorious monument to the irascible power of the electric guitar. BS
LINDSAY CLARK, KEVIN LEE FLORENCE, RYAN FRANCESCONI, MIRABAI PEART
(The Secret Society, 116 NE Russell) Lindsay Clark has prepped her third album, Begin, and it's a gentle, graceful recording from the Portland singer/songwriter. Recorded in her Victorian house with Musée Mécanique's Sean Ogilvie, it is a perfect album, fittingly, for listening to around the house, preferably on cool, smoky mornings when the sun can't make up its mind if it wants to poke its way through the clouds. Clark's careful voice is multi-tracked on many of Begin's songs ("Robin Song" and "I Give" are entirely a cappella), but there's also a warm, cabin-like feeling of community and collaboration, with contributions from violinist Mirabai Peart, upright bassist Willem Joersz, and Quiet Life drummer Ryan Spellman. NL
LILY ALLEN, LOLAWOLF
(Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside) I've always kind of liked Lily Allen. Sure, she's a Myspace-made Not Ugly Person™ who had help from well-off parents with connections, but she also had a no-fucks-given 'tude and seemed like a real human, inebriated missteps and all. And her ska-tinged/reggae-lite synth-pop tunes—delivered with a potty-mouth cockney accent and a sense of humor—weren't all that bad, either. You probably remember her sunny 2006 hit "Smile," about basking in the pain of a cheating ex, or maybe "Alfie," a bouncy track chiding her younger brother for smoking too much pot and never leaving his room (it must have worked—Alfie Allen now plays Theon Greyjoy on Game of Thrones). Allen's newest album, Sheezus, is acceptable radio pop filled with half-interesting commentary on fame and internet trolling. EMILY NOKES Also see My, What a Busy Week!
EAR CANDY: VINNIE DEWAYNE, MIC CAPES, MAZE KOROMA
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) Tonight's free showcase highlights Portland's burgeoning hip-hop scene, featuring three top-tier solo acts representing their respective crews. Vinnie Dewayne is riding high off national exposure for his summer anthem "Easy," featuring Soar Losers compatriot Myke Bogan. The song has been featured on vibe.com and satellite radio channel Shade 45, proving that a wide audience can be reached without going through traditional gatekeepers in New York and California. Fellow St. Johns native Mic Capes, one third of the Resistance, will debut new material from his upcoming project Concrete Dreams. Capes—who is self-described as "not a conscious rapper, just a rapper with a conscience"—drops knowledge rooted in his hardscrabble upbringing. Maze Koroma, of the Renaissance Coalition, rounds out the bill with a unique style that's both trippy and turnt up. Overall, it's an ideal introduction for the uninitiated and a celebration for the conversant. RYAN FEIGH Also see My, What a Busy Week!
THE FELICE BROTHERS, SPIRIT FAMILY REUNION
(Wonder Ballroom, 128 NE Russell) I was—what's the word?—nonplussed by the Felice Brothers' 2011 album Celebration, Florida. Incorporating dancehall sounds and decidedly inorganic electronic textures, it was a sharp zag from the New York band, who had previously won my heart with the rickety accordion pumping and hoarse whiskey holler of "Frankie's Gun!", a Band pastiche par excellence from 2008's self-titled album. That's why the Felices' new one, Favorite Waitress, didn't come so much as a surprise as a relief—a folksy, dance-on-the-bar-top hootenanny that makes the most of the Cajun-inflected fiddle and accordion that set their sound apart from the roots-rock pack. What does my willful dismissal of their more experimental tendencies suggest about my possibly stick-in-the-mud, detrimentally traditional tastes? I don't know—but you put on Favorite Waitress and see if it doesn't make you feel good. NL
DJ SHADOW, CUT CHEMIST, EDAN AND PATEN LOCKE, DJ WICKED
(Roseland, 8 NW 6th) When turntablists DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist collaborate, the goal is usually some form of musical education. As students of the history of soul, funk, R&B, and hiphop, the two have devised amazing mix sessions that have focused on private-press 45s from around the US and the pioneering cut-and-paste work of producers Steinski and Double Dee. On this tour, the pair works from crates of records borrowed from none other than Afrika Bambaata, the New Yorker who gave hiphop its political edge in the late '70s and early '80s, and whose DJ and production work provided the foundation for the nascent genre. RH Also see My, What a Busy Week!
RED BULL SOUND SELECT: SZA, SHAPRECE, MAGIC FADES
(Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison) SZA makes smooth, hazy, twinkling, 3 am drug music. She's on Kendrick Lamar's label, Top Dawg, and like the man at the top, SZA does R&B similar to the way Lamar does rap—with a bit more feeling and existential awareness than the rank and file. SZA isn't yet quite as prodigious or profound as Lamar, but she's onto something. The tones and textures are enveloping, like popping pills and rolling around on shag carpet beneath waves of shimmering smoke. Before her full-length debut (this year's Z), SZA put out a slew of EPs that have a handful of slick suites, though they're more memorable for the sound than the songs. Every once in a while, though, a hook breaks through the clouds, like on "Crack Dreams," when SZA coos: "I love you like I love crack/I love you like I like to get high." It's mournful, an acknowledgment of coming withdrawal inside a head still swimming. ANDREW R TONRY
NICK WATERHOUSE, PEP
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) If you weren't paying attention or didn't know otherwise, you might think Nick Waterhouse came from a bygone era, when poodle skirts and big bands were on the cultural menu. Waterhouse is, in fact, a dude in his late 20s from Huntington Beach, California, who just happens to play a mean, clean guitar, and emulate the sound of old-school soul to a T. His type of classic rhythm-and-blues has made a comeback as of late, but Waterhouse creates such precise, delicious, well-orchestrated music that he sounds vital rather than derivative. His most recent album, Holly, exemplifies what he does well: honking horn lines and mock-'50s R&B vocals, which toy with surf rock and jazz without ever becoming boring or repetitive. ROSE FINN