BUILT TO SPILL, GENDERS, HONEY BUCKET
(Wonder Ballroom, 128 NE Russell) In March, while Built to Spill were treating hometown fans to a career-spanning set at Boise’s Treefort Festival, it was impossible not to notice a strange, fancily dressed festivalgoer chastising frontman Doug Martsch around the edges of the stage. Everything was later explained in the band’s playful video for the new Untethered Moon single, “Never Be the Same,” in which the mysterious figure is revealed to be Martsch’s favorite actor, Hairy Canary, who has been coaching the overly obsessed frontman in elaborate stage flourishes. Spoiler alert: Martsch ends up bashfully backing out of the opportunity to showcase his moves in front of the crowd. It’s a clever wink to the frontman’s stoic stage presence, and while Martsch might never muster up the high kicks of Carrie Brownstein or the springboard pogo of Mac McCaughan, his patented head bob and a fantastic new album continue to make Built to Spill a must-see act. CHIPP TERWILLIGER Also see My, What a Busy Week!
HEEMS, SPANK ROCK
(Star Theater, 13 NW 6th) Heems, AKA Himanshu Suri, has proven himself to be one of the sharpest dudes in hip-hop, first as part of cockeyed rap trio Das Racist and then with a couple of well-received solo mixtapes (Nehru Jackets and Wild Water Kingdom). But this year's Eat Pray Thug is his first officially released solo album, and it offers up a bit of everything Heems brings to the table: politics, spiritualism, disco beats, swagger, self-deprecation, tales of NYC, unconventional melodies, and an ongoing search for identity in a complex world. Eat Pray Thug is about Heems' journey to self-discovery in South Asia and life as a brown-skinned man in post-9/11 America, set to (mostly) dope beats. It's clever and affecting, and another installment in what is becoming a very impressive catalog from a guy who became widely known for a song called "Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell." BEN SALMON
MOTHERTAPES, THE CENTURY, SALON
(The Liquor Store, 3341 SE Belmont) Meeting through Craigslist in 2007, multi-instrumentalist Pete Bosack and drummer Tommy Franzen found an easy collaboration in the pop-rock rock outfit Wax Fingers. After that band's breakup, the two streamlined their sound, re-emerging as Mothertapes in 2013. Combining well-stewed math rock with new wave power-pop, their live show is like watching chemists deftly create sensorial explosions. Mothertapes recently signed to DIY label collective Self Group with a full-length expected later this summer. Pop rock favorites the Century and fellow math-rock newcomers Salon round out what is bound to be a night of energetic posi power-pop. JENI WREN STOTTRUP
THE LOWEST PAIR, HARMED BROTHERS
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) Kendl Winter, one half of the Lowest Pair, is a veteran of the Northwest's DIY music community. She's recorded two excellent solo albums for K Records, was a founding member of popular bluegrass outfit the Blackberry Bushes Stringband, and has toured the country with punk bands, country bands, and surfy pop bands. Her songs occasionally sound like Iris Dement interpreting the music of Kimya Dawson, but they don't usually allow for easy comparisons. In the Lowest Pair, Winter and Midwest bluegrass veteran Palmer T. Lee toy with their listeners. Their first two full-lengths on Team Love exist somewhere between nostalgic sweetness and ominous mystery. They are infectious and haunting, a perfectly sparse combination of two banjos and unlikely harmonies. Tonight is the official release party for their new album of traditionals, I Reckon I'm Fixin' on Kickin' Round to Pick a Little, a work that makes even the most innocuous-seeming old tune unexpectedly full of new life. JOSHUA JAMES AMBERSON
SONS OF HUNS, DIESTO, OLD KINGDOM
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) Portland metal trio Sons of Huns haven’t exactly been quiet over the last year and a half—unless you count recording a new nine-track album of ear-piercing thrash with guest appearances from Dale Crover (Melvins) and Scott “Wino” Weinrich (St. Vitus) to be particularly silent. Displaying the band’s affinity for addictively demented guitar calisthenics from guitarist/vocalist Pete Hughes (who’s probably the best guitar player in the city), While Sleeping Stay Awake also tackles real-life analysis of some pretty cathartic health-related issues from Hughes, who discovered he’d been suffering from Lyme disease several years ago. Touching on themes ranging from meditation, Egyptian magic, and Hermetic philosophy, Sons of Huns new LP is like a new-age metal war hellride. Tonight is the triumphant, official album release, and we’d do well to relieve the band of every last copy. RYAN J. PRADO Also see My, What a Busy Week!
(Edgefield, 2126 SW Halsey, Troutdale) The past 10 years have not been easy ones for those of us who harbor a desire to defend Morrissey against the barbarous millions. Contributing to this feeling: rampant cancellations on account of health problems, audience rudeness, and other vicissitudes, plus the transformation of his offstage voice from the gloriously barbed wit of his colossal youth into an increasingly cranky objection reflex. These might not be such a problem had the recent music been more authoritative. Since the triumphant comeback of 2004’s You Are the Quarry, Morrissey has released three studio LPs—Ringleader of the Tormentors (2006), Years of Refusal (2009), and World Peace Is None of Your Business (2014), three best-of and B-sides comps, a live album, two full-length live films, several box sets, remasters, reissue, repackage, repackage. The new work has… moments, but it would be perverse to suggest they constitute the major attraction. So why do we keep coming back? Because if you ever had a Morrissey-shaped hole in your life, you never forget how it felt to find a Morrissey to fill it. Some debts can never be repaid. SEAN NELSON
HELENS, STATIC LIMBS, SEAN ARCHER
(Mississippi Pizza Pub, 3552 N Mississippi) The slow-building melodic sludge of Helens is like a seven-layer lava cake. It is precisely textured, stacking miry guitar riffs on top of thick, mucky noise progressions that explode with molten-landslide drums. The Portland-based trio is fronted by Jordan Portlock, along with former Robot Boy guitarist Jackson Walker and Sioux Falls drummer Ben Scott, and in June they released their self-recorded debut EP, Teeth. The EP begins with the experimental shoegaze song "Just Like Pet Sounds," which is assuredly nothing like the Beach Boys' masterpiece, aside from being solidly layered and somewhere beneath the giant umbrella that is experimental guitar rock. Also on the bill is a solo set from Sean Archer, whose glam-punk band Sweeping Exits' single "Operation" was featured on the recent local pop-punk compilation Sounds Like... Good Cheer Vol. 1. CAMERON CROWELL
EVIL SPEAKERS, WHERE MY BONES REST EASY, BEACH PARTY
(The Know, 2026 NE Alberta) Portland's Evil Speakers describe themselves as a band with a clear bent toward '90s indie nostalgia, so it's safe to assume they took their moniker from the Guided by Voices Alien Lanes song. While Evil Speakers might not be hell-bent on trailblazing new territory, their new album, Feats, shows the band isn't afraid to explore the far reaches of a familiar sound. The one-two punch of "Agree to Disagree" and "Past Lives" delivers nine minutes of rich, fully realized guitar rock that sounds like it's being beamed clear across the galaxy. Tonight, Evil Speakers are joined by Seattle post-hardcore trio Where My Bones Rest Easy, who'll have their newly released EP, Exercises in Futility, in tow. Be sure to arrive early enough to catch the always excellent Beach Party, whose forthcoming album, Broken Machine, is shaping up to be a true summer gem. CHIPP TERWILLIGER
SPIT VITRIOL, YEAR OF THE COYOTE, KILL THE SHARK, MOON
(Twilight Café and Bar, 1420 SE Powell) The dissolving of revered PDX hardcore crew Twohands in 2014 left a bit of a void in the kind of menacing-bravado, these-guys-might-beat-the-shit-out-of-me realm of local metal. It didn't take long, though, for longtime batterymates Matt Hagan (vocals/guitar) and Travis Wisner (drums) to put together Year of the Coyote along with bassist John Fulwyler, recording a three-song demo that stitches the schism between sludge, hardcore, doom—you name it. The band is a force to be reckoned with live, and has proven so over a regimen of punishing sets at underground metal staples like the Know and Twilight Café. Tonight's show features Portland D-beat hardcore saviors Spit Vitriol, polluting your earholes with anthemic tunes like "Victim of Change," which features the lyric "Rip City like a fucking heart attack/Rip City take this city back!" RJP
PDX POP NOW!: CHANTI DARLING, VINNIE DEWAYNE, DYLAN STARK, THE SHIVAS, MOON BY YOU, MOPE GROOVES, BLUE CRANES, ROSELIT BONE, BALTO, DIRTY REVIVAL
(AudioCinema, 226 SE Madison) See My, What a Busy Week!, and All-Ages Action!
SAY ANYTHING, MODERN BASEBALL, CYMBALS EAT GUITARS, HARD GIRLS
(Roseland, 8 NW 6th) If you're like me, you have a full-time job defending pop-punk in the year 2015. But you also have discerning taste and wouldn't be caught dead at the embarrassing, misogynistic, anachronistic puppet show that the Vans Warped Tour has devolved into. Tonight's show is your jam, then: Philly's Modern Baseball are contemporary paragons of teenage melodrama set to power chords (their best song is called "Your Graduation," for god's sake), and perpetual blogosphere pinups Cymbals Eat Guitars, while not technically a "pop-punk" band (which I'm sure they're fine with), draw heartily from the genre's finest hour on their latest LP, Lose. But it's underdogs Hard Girls that, secretly, are the best band on the bill—the group's latest record, last year's A Thousand Surfaces, is a loud pop chef-d'oeuvre that also doesn't quite fit the straight pop-punk mold, even if its spirit is wholly, unremittingly punk. Opening track "The Quark" is a power-pop litterateur's wet dream that evokes Weezer, Wire, Dinosaur Jr., and the Wedding Present in just under three minutes of complete aural serenity. They play first and will set the bar very fucking high. MORGAN TROPER
LOWER DENS, YOUNG EJECTA
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) For the last decade, Jana Hunter's been asserting herself with a noteworthy sound. In 2005, the Baltimore native released her debut, Blank Unstaring Heirs of Doom (if you haven't heard it, go back and listen, especially to "Restless"). Ten years later, Hunter's picked up a full band with the name Lower Dens (not to harp on debuts, but 2010's Twin Hand Movement is NOT to be overlooked). Lower Dens' tones are outwardly sharp and electric but embody a warm, stripped-down folk heart; sultry and seemingly always pulsing, but never abrasive, even in the midst of sonically flared or distorted builds. In celebration of their newest album, Escape from Evil, they're making a stop here in Portland. Judging from her track record, something tells me the next decade has good things in store for Hunter. ROBIN BACIOR
TOYBOAT TOYBOAT TOYBOAT, ATLAS AND THE ASTRONAUT, BLEACH BLONDE DUDES
(Kelly's Olympian, 426 SW Washington) Local treasures (and I utilize idioms like that sparingly) Toyboat Toyboat Toyboat are an example of a band whose aesthetic is totally in line with its music: The ensemble's caffeinated, off-kilter brand of prog-pop—which manages to be both catchy and unsettling in equal doses—is reflected lucidly in the way they promote themselves. The band's weirdness has reached its logical, insane apex with the release of their forthcoming record, which will see its debut tonight not as a disc, but in the form of a LEGO set representing the band. Member Danny Norton's figurine will house a USB drive containing a digital copy of the record in addition to some "extra goodies." I can only imagine. MT
PDX POP NOW!: NURSES, MODERN KIN, HOLY GROVE, LONG KNIFE, TALKATIVE, JACKSON BOONE, THE LOWER 48, APPENDIXES, HANDS IN, HOT VICTORY, WERESQUATCH, WHITE GLOVE, GOLDEN HOUR, THE DOMESTICS, AUTONOMICS, THE STOPS, ARBO
(Audiocinema, 226 SE Madison) See My, What a Busy Week!, and All-Ages Action!
JAMIE XX, MATTIS
(Wonder Ballroom, 128 NE Russell) Jamie Smith—or Jamie XX, as he’s known to the rest of the world—has kept himself comfortably behind the scenes these past few years. He’s the one that creates the ghostly musical drops for his namesake group, the XX, and who remixed Gil Scott-Heron’s final album I’m New Here into a thing of fractured, postmodern beauty. Over the last year, Smith has been dropping little bombs on the future-pop world with a series of digital singles that found him expanding his musical palette into deeper, richer sounds influenced by grime, trap, and the possibilities of post-punk. The album that brought many of those songs and some new material together, In Colour, is one of the pure delights of 2015. It’s a pulsating, skittish collection of tunes that includes song of summer “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)” and welcomes in guests like Young Thug and his XX bandmates into his thick sonic fog. ROBERT HAM Also see My, What a Busy Week!
VACILANDO, JEFFREY MARTIN, ESMÉ PATTERSON
(Alberta Street Pub, 1036 NE Alberta) Portland band Vacilando are self-described as "bleak Midwestern soundscapes," and that's actually pretty spot-on, as the band earns comparisons to Low's slowcore, Cowboy Junkies' prairie solitude, and Califone's art-school deconstructionism. Vacilando's first album, While They Were Dancing, is a slow and gorgeous affair, with folk and calico-country tones intersecting with long, groaning hums that sound like steel rails vibrating long after the train has pulled out of the station. But as wonderfully bruised and desolate as tracks like "Down All Day" and "Circles" are, they also contain an almost prayerful sense of hope and warmth. Released by Fluff and Gravy—whose label head, John Shepski, is Vacilando's guitarist/vocalist—While They Were Dancing is a wonderful surprise, a still life of exquisite sorrow and beauty. NED LANNAMANN
SAD HORSE, DEATH CAT, KINGDOM OF SMOTH
(Turn! Turn! Turn!, 8 NE Killingsworth) Like the hastily-sketched portraits that mark the cover of their latest LP, Purple on Purple Makes Purple, Sad Horse fill in elaborate images of rock grandeur with just a few shaky elements. Their skeletal scruff jams rarely cap out at over two minutes, creating a sort of overwhelming effect in the mode of the Minutemen or Guided by Voices. The idea here isn't the technical prowess on display or the sentiment at hand, but rather the sheer cascade of songs. While other bands were busy making a mobile out of K'Nex, Sad Horse made a planetarium out of popsicle sticks, duct tape, and spit. MAC POGUE
MAVIS STAPLES, PATTY GRIFFIN, AMY HELM & THE HANDSOME STRANGERS
(Oregon Zoo, 4001 SW Canyon) Mavis Staples has been singing for over half a century, having first started in the late 1960s with her family, legendary gospel/R&B band the Staple Singers. She was at the forefront of the Civil Rights movement, was close family friends with Martin Luther King Jr., and was asked for her hand in marriage by a young Bob Dylan (she wisely rebuffed him). Though she continued to record as a solo artist after the Staple Singers, the '80s and '90s threatened to leave Mavis and her legacy to the history books. The past decade, however, has been good to her, mostly owing to her recent embrace by a younger audience. Her 2010 collaboration with Jeff Tweedy, You Are Not Alone, earned Staples her first Grammy Award for Best Americana Album (deserved, but a questionable category nonetheless). For her most recent release, the four-song EP Your Good Fortune, Staples teamed up with electro-soul-blues musician Son Little, whose unconventional, dynamic production helped put the energy of the church back into her music. SANTI ELIJAH HOLLEY
YUMI ZOUMA, HOSANNAS
(Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison) Yumi Zouma's first EP—let's call it EP, because they did—made waves across the music blogosphere thanks to its bouncy beats, icy-cool melodies, and hazy, doe-eyed atmosphere. It's exactly the kind of mid-fi electro-pop that the guy from Gorilla vs. Bear eats up, and it eventually led Yumi Zouma to a gig opening for Lorde. Lorde! Anyway, the New Zealand quartet is now back with EP II, and it's a pretty clear step up from EP. The beats are more fluid. The synths are richer and more colorful. The arrangements are more ambitious. And the band's performance simply sounds stronger and more confident. More, more, more. Yumi Zouma isn't likely to change your life anytime soon, but they're getting better at making dance music for people who are uncomfortable dancing. BS
BREATHE OWL BREATHE, MICHAEL HURLEY
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) Who knew a Dairy Queen parking lot could be the serendipitous breeding ground for some magical good? That's where Micah Middaugh met Andréa Moreno-Beals as college students in 2004, and something in that encounter (or that Dairy Queen sugar) sparked a strong enough connection that the two started collaborating, going back and forth between one another's respective schools, leading to the formation of Breathe Owl Breathe. Now as a trio, their sound is an endearing blend of warm, simple folk, whimsical stories, and toe-tapping beats. They'll be sharing the evening with Michael Hurley; therefore, this night has instantly become a contender for Most Heartwarming Show of 2015. Get there and cast your vote. RB
PDX POP NOW!: COOL NUTZ, BLOSSOM, PHONE CALL, RAP CLASS, COCO COLUMBIA, MIC CRENSHAW, MARRIAGE & CANCER, MUSCLE & MARROW, VICE DEVICE, THE LAST ARTFUL DODGR, CATHERINE FEENY & CHRIS JOHNEDIS, BIG HAUNT, BED, NO KIND OF RIDER, LADYWOLF, DAD ROCK, DYNASTY
(Audiocinema, 226 SE Madison) See My, What a Busy Week!, and All-Ages Action!
FUNERAL GOLD, LOVE COP, MOTOR INN, STRANGE WOOL
(Kelly's Olympian, 426 SW Washington) In a sea of vapid garage-psych where every third band is trying to imitate the Monkees and the Oneders (who were fictionalized imitations themselves), Love Cop is one of the few unique and interesting exceptions. Their recent LP, Dark Ones, was jointly released on Los Angeles label Lolipop Records and the formerly Portland-based Gnar Tapes. The 1980s-darkwave/Twin Peaks synthesizers meet frontman Chill Phill’s truly creepy, breathy vocals and slow bouncy guitar riffs that feel intentionally out of place. As is to be expected from Gnar, Love Cop plays lo-fi stoner-pop with seemingly lazy production, but is downright infectious. They do so without drifting too far into tired psychedelia that uses buzzwords like “esoteric” to describe itself. CC
CHARLI XCX, BLEACHERS, BØRNS
(Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside) Charli XCX is the best thing to happen to mainstream pop music since the Neptunes arrived on the scene in the '90s. The young British performer/producer is so powerful that she made the terrifying cadaver of Iggy Azalea sound palatable and turned Icona Pop, a pair of shouty Swedish ladies, into international stars by writing the song "I Love It" for them. Even better is the work she's released on her own. Her two most recent albums—2013's True Romance and 2014's Sucker—are snotty, sex-positive, feminist futuristic pop barbed with inescapable hooks, glammy electro, and Charli's irrepressible energy. ROBERT HAM
WYE OAK, LAKE
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) Baltimore duo Wye Oak reached a turning point with last year's Shriek. Leading up to that album, vocalist/guitarist Jenn Wasner and drummer/keyboardist Andy Stack were living in different parts of the country, Wasner feeling dissatisfied with her abilities as a songwriter and the duo on the verge of splitting. Picking up the bass instead of the guitar, Wasner opened a new window on Wye Oak's established sound, allowing more rhythm and negative space into the band's shaggy dream-pop. Now we're more than a year removed from Shriek, which was re-released in April in a deluxe edition with a bonus EP of remixes. This short West Coast tour feels like the closing portion of a transformative cycle for Wye Oak, which has successfully evolved their folkier indie-rock sound into dancefloor-informed electropop. Now the question is: What's next? NL
JAMAICAN QUEENS, LEO
(The Liquor Store, 3341 SE Belmont) Jamaican Queens are known for weird, noisy dance ballads with uncomfortable amounts of bass, inspired by taking pills and getting chased through Detroit all night. It's hard being an indie rock band when all you wanna do is chop and screw, so Jamaican Queens can be hard to classify. Ryan Spencer and Adam Pressley (formerly of the Detroit band Prussia) write catchy songs to make you move your butt around. The ballads on their new album Downers are more focused on polyamory problems and less on getting chased, but singles like "Joe" and "Bored + Lazy" contain layers to roll around in like a glitch bouncy castle. SUZETTE SMITH
DIG A PONY’S FOUR-YEAR ANNIVERSARY: NICK WATERHOUSE AND THE PAIN, THE SHIVAS, PEARLES, DJ COOKY PARKER
(Dig a Pony, 736 SE Grand) See My, What a Busy Week!
AEROSMITH, LIVING COLOUR
(Amphitheater Northwest, 17200 NE Delfel, Ridgefield, WA) Okay, Aerosmith. Here's the plan. You've covered a lot of bases in your 40-plus-year career. With solid '70s records like Rocks and Toys in the Attic, you have achieved classic-rock royalty. You were arguably the first to meld rock and rap. That was a monumental and influential moment in music history, Aerosmith. And how about your early '90s MTV takeover? A series of sexy music videos starring Alicia Silverstone and Liv Tyler? Yes, please! You also joined the ranks of Celine Dion and Whitney Houston with a mega-ballad superhit for a major motion picture. Original lineup intact aside from a few holes in the late '70s and early '80s? That's unprecedented! Sure, there've been drugs, alcohol, rehab, a Ferrari fire, and other embarrassments, but that just means you were rock stars. I think your legacy will remain intact for centuries, Aerosmith. There isn't much else you can or should do. So maybe it's time to hang it up. Don't burn out, don't fade away, just hang onto every little scrap of your celebrity, cash those royalty checks, and wait to die. ARIS WALES
STOOGES BRASS BAND
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) Stooges Brass Band came together in New Orleans in 1996, under the tutelage of bandleader Walter "Whoadie" Ramsay. Band members have come and gone, and they were briefly dispersed by Hurricane Katrina, but they reformed and came back stronger than before, earning their reputation as one of New Orleans' foremost second-line bands. After winning the 2010 Red Bull Street Kings competition and the 2011 award for Best Contemporary Brass Band at the Big Easy Music Awards, they've gone on to perform with everyone from Black Star to Jessica Simpson, at everywhere from Bonnaroo to Pakistan. Like their mentors, Rebirth Brass Band, Stooges blend hip-hop and funk with Big Easy brass, and cultivate a reputation for clowning during their performances, which is how they got their name (Iggy isn't in the band, as far as I know). Their recorded output so far consists only of one EP, 2003's It's About Time, but this is the kind of band you need to see live, dancing shoulder-to-shoulder with your community. SEH