TOPS Wed 2/25 Mississippi Studios

WEDNESDAY 2/25

MILK MUSIC, THE WOOLEN MEN
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) Olympia-based Milk Music's 2013 full-length, the irreverently titled Cruise Your Illusion, was one of the records that spearheaded the "'90s revival" before that term had any semblance of mainstream ubiquity. (Since then, French Toast Crunch and JNCOs have both made surprising comebacks.) Cruise is sort of an alt-rock nostalgia junket, shamelessly flaunting its influence from at least three generations of indie forebears, from the Velvets and Crazy Horse, to Hüsker Dü and the Replacements, to Dinosaur Jr. and Pavement, executed pretty brilliantly even if it is inexcusably derivative. What eccentric frontman Alex Coxen lacks in artistic identity he makes up for with an innate understanding of what makes rock music so cool—and Cruise Your Illusion is the type of record that makes you feel cool just for knowing it exists. MORGAN TROPER

TOPS, TENDER AGE, SATSUMA
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) As part of Arbutus Records, the same collective that helped shape the likes of Grimes and Majical Cloudz, the Montreal-based quartet TOPS employs a strong DIY recording approach in crafting their lush and polished music. Last year, the band released their second LP, Picture You Staring, a collection of crisp and airy pop that came together over the course of a year spent writing, recording, and mixing in the Arbutus warehouse space. Songs like "Way to Be Loved" and "Outside" are stunning showcases of the band's straight-shooting and unobscured methods, which allow the strength of their songwriting to take center stage. Tonight, TOPS are joined by noise-pop outfit Tender Age and the C86-inspired jangle-rock of Satsuma. The two Portland bands are part of the rising tide of promising dream-pop acts that sound ready to submerge the city in a thick sea of melodic haze in the very near future. CHIPP TERWILLIGER

ENUFF Z'NUFF, MADAME TORMENT, DIE ROBOT
(Tonic Lounge, 3100 NE Sandy) Underneath that regrettable, self-conscious hair metal luster, Enuff Z'nuff was always more of a true-blue power-pop band than anything else. Songs like "Fly High Michelle" and "New Thing," off the group's self-titled debut, simply sound more indebted to the Beatles than any of metal or hard rock's antecedents, and that's a good thing. Unfortunately, having caught the tail end of the hair wave, Enuff Z'nuff put too many eggs in the wrong basket at the wrong time, and had a difficult time maintaining an audience, even after abandoning the cock-rock veneer. The group's best record is 2000's 10—a collection of near-perfect guitar pop, kickstarted by saccharine-sweet "There Goes My Heart," that largely fell on deaf ears (unless we're talking about in Japan, where the group have a pretty significant fanbase). The band is currently on tour in support of their latest record, a covers album titled Covered in Gold. Original lead singer Donnie Vie, arguably the band's most distinguishing asset, is sadly nowhere to be found. MT

THURSDAY 2/26

GENDERS, GOTHIC TROPIC, LUCY
(Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison) See My, What a Busy Week!

HOWLIN RAIN, THE BLANK TAPES, PHANTOM SHIPS
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) Read our article on Howlin Rain.

GIANT BUG VILLAGE, NECKLACE OF HEADS, FAUXGAZI
(Kenton Club, 2025 N Kilpatrick) While last year's sudden breakup of the reformed classic-era Guided By Voices lineup may have left Portland fans jilted ahead of the band's scheduled Project Pabst appearance, we're fortunate enough to inhabit the same city as the world's first Guided By Voices tribute band, Giant Bug Village. Spearheaded by towering frontman Stan McMahon, who is cited by Bob Pollard himself as one of Guided By Voices' earliest superfans, Giant Bug Village have been performing for nearly two decades. McMahon's reputation as a walking jukebox has him primed to storm through dozens of hits, and you can be sure he'll do so with the all of the heart and swagger that's demanded by the source material. CT

FRIDAY 2/27

LANGHORNE SLIM, JONNY FRITZ
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) See My, What a Busy Week!

TURN! TURN! TURN! TURNS ONE: SAM COOMES, THE WHITE SHARK, THE TENSES, DJ LINDSEY THRASHER
(Turn! Turn! Turn!, 8 NE Killingsworth) See My, What a Busy Week!

LOST LANDER, RADIATION CITY, SAMA DAMS
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) Read our article on Lost Lander.

MARK FELL
(Yale Union, 800 SE 10th) When British electronic artist Mark Fell was last in Portland, his set was an hour-long assault of programmed polyrhythms and thick layers of digital detritus. Since then, Fell has been working in a variety of musical mediums, collaborating with cellist Sandro Mussida on minimalist experimental duets, and recording some of the best tech-house 12-inches of the past few years with DJ Sprinkles (AKA Terre Thaemlitz). All that is to say that there's no guessing what direction Fell will take us tonight. Prepare your mind and body to either dance like mad or stare pensively at your feet as you absorb the soundwaves. ROBERT HAM

SATURDAY 2/28

THE MALT BALL
(Wonder Ballroom, 128 NE Russell) See My, What a Busy Week! and our guide to the Malt Ball.

TURN! TURN! TURN! TURNS ONE: SIR RICHARD BISHOP, RLLRBLL, THE WOOLEN MEN, DJ TOM HUMPHREY
(Turn! Turn! Turn!, 8 NE Killingsworth) See My, What a Busy Week!

OLD MAN GLOOM, COLISEUM, BEAST
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) Massachusetts doom crew Old Man Gloom used a little majick on those who downloaded their latest LP, The Ape of God, before its official release. The songs on the leaked promo were essentially sliced-and-diced versions from not one but two new Old Man Gloom albums. The move turned out to be divisive among listeners and critics, but that's a rep that's followed Old Man Gloom's sporadic 16 years together. The band's sound has never been easy to pin down, with each record containing its own identity, and the members pull expertly from doom, psychedelic, hardcore, and noise. These dudes (featuring former members of Converge and Isis) have done what they want, when they want, and it shows in their vast and intriguing output. MARK LORE

DEAD PREZ, MIC CAPES, ZAKEE EL
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) Indie hip-hop duo Dead Prez are best known for their song "Hip Hop," where their infamous refrain calls out, "It's bigger than hip, hop, hip, hop...." Though this song has been echoing through college parties for 15 years, the Tallahassee duo of M1 and Stic.Man actually maintain a message of social justice and a stance against corporate control over the media. M1 has shown particular interest in his African American roots, having studied the Black Panther Party and joined the International People's Democratic Uhuru Movement in Chicago for three years in the early '90s. During their concerts, Dead Prez have been known to throw apples into their audiences to promote healthy eating habits, while lighting dollar bills on fire. Go to this show—you can say you did it for hiphop. ROSE FINN

SUNDAY 3/1

TURN! TURN! TURN! TURNS ONE: LIQUORBALL, JAGULA, SPECTRUM CONTROL, HISHAM MAYET
(Turn! Turn! Turn!, 8 NE Killingsworth) See My, What a Busy Week!

DANIEL LANOIS, ROCCO DELUCA
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) Producer Daniel Lanois' name is most often associated with other artists, most notably U2 and Peter Gabriel—although the list is much longer than that, whether it was early on with fellow Canadians Simply Saucer or with Willie Nelson, Luscious Jackson, and Bob Dylan, or his collabs with Brian Eno. With all that, it can be easy to forget that Lanois is a musician himself. His latest, Flesh and Machine, is among his best solo work, an album that draws from his skills as a musician and producer, but also the myriad artists whom Lanois has helped shift their sound. It's also an instrumental work, which goes well with Lanois' knack for creating moody sonic worlds. ML Also see My, What a Busy Week!

JMSN, ROCHELLE JORDAN, GILBERT FORTE
(Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison) Hailing from the undistinguished northern Detroit suburb of Warren, JMSN is a neo-soul man who could be viewed as a Midwestern Allen Stone: a wunderkind with surprising emotional depth and vocal dexterity. On his 2015 album JMSN (The Blue Album), JMSN excels in vaporous balladic mode. Although his songs sometimes tilt into the sort of maudlin territory that marred Michael Jackson's later albums, JMSN overcomes those lapses with sheer vocal control, expressive improv instincts, and textural smoothness. He modulates his sincerity just right. Taking after Motown stars like Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye circa their '70s heydays, JMSN shows vaulting ambition and talent to (slow) burn. He's gonna break a lot of hearts if he keeps this up. DAVE SEGAL

BENNY GREEN TRIO, RON CARTER TRIO
(Newmark Theatre, 1111 SW Broadway) If you own more than, say, a dozen jazz albums, you've heard the playing of Ron Carter whether you realize it or not. The 77-year-old bassist has, by some counts, appeared on over 2,000 recordings, including Miles Davis' "Second Great Quintet," Herbie Hancock's modal experiments of the '60s, and the smoother output of Hubert Laws. He's also dabbled in the pop and hiphop worlds, most notably providing the titular bass boom of A Tribe Called Quest's The Low End Theory. The most striking thing about Carter's work over the years is that his approach to the bass has never changed no matter who he's playing with. Even when backing up Grace Slick (which he did for one song on her album Manhole), his resonant, weightless tone is immediately recognizable and always welcome. RH

MIMICKING BIRDS, THE GHOST EASE, KEVIN LEE FLORENCE
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) Mimicking Birds have been Portland's go-to sound therapy for the past seven or eight years, with their lushly arranged, heavy-lidded meditations in styles ranging from nu-jazz to folk to dreamy shoegaze and beyond. The band's sophomore LP, Eons, was released by Isaac Brock's Glacial Pace Records last May, and comes bursting with warm compositions, and heavy vocal melodies lilting in marshmallow clouds—soft and sweet and pillowy. The production itself is a triumph, and complements the plaintive nature of the psych swirls and spacey fissures of tunes like "Acting Your Age." The band's in good company tonight, as the Ghost Ease take a break from tracking their second record to lay waste to the Mississippi Studios stage. RYAN J. PRADO

MONDAY 3/2

Happy Lou Reed Day, everybody.

TUESDAY 3/3

CARIBOU, KORELESS
(Roseland, 8 NW 6th) See My, What a Busy Week!

VIET CONG, FREAK HEAT WAVES, AAN
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) Read our article on Viet Cong.

CITYMOUTH, BONE ROCK
(Beacon Sound, 3636B N Mississippi) Astrocentric, the new album from Portland electronic producer Citymouth, shimmers and sparkles in all the right ways, but refuses to float along peacefully. Underneath its dreamy surface there's a grating underworld of buzzing, rattling, and droning sounds. Think cassette tapes being rewound again and again, a pile of circuit-bent toys sitting around at the end of a party, and a devious sound engineer making one instrument at a time jarringly louder than the rest. Imagine Lapalux or Airhead with fewer pretty vocal cuts. Or a triphop producer collaborating with a noise artist. The album sidesteps overt accessibility with masterful avoidance, and tonight it drops on Dropping Gems; a free listening party with cassette-tape DJ sets will ensue. JOSHUA JAMES AMBERSON

THE SIDEKICKS, CAYETANA, YOUR RIVAL, THE DOOM GENERATION
(Analog Café, 720 SE Hawthorne) If you're going to listen to Runners in the Nerved World, the new album from Ohio band the Sidekicks, be warned: These dudes sound a lot like Band of Horses. Like, a lot. And the Shins, almost as much. Much of the similarity stems from the helium-high voice of frontman Steve Ciolek, who's vocally a dead ringer for head Horse Ben Bridwell, and a reasonable facsimile of James Mercer. Musically, the Sidekicks fall somewhere in between the two: bouncier and less twangy than Band of Horses' moonlit anthems, but more ragged than the Shins' glossy pop-rock. Comparisons aside, Runners stands on its own as a solid slab of catchy, guitar-based indie rock that's enjoyable even if you aren't familiar with those two bands. BEN SALMON