URAL THOMAS AND THE PAIN
(LaurelThirst Public House, 2958 NE Glisan) See My, What a Busy Week!
!!!, STEREOLAD, THE LOWER 48
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) See My, What a Busy Week!
EZRA FURMAN, GUY BLAKESLEE
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) At an early gig in 1974, music critic Jon Landau famously prophesied, "I saw rock and roll future and its name is Bruce Springsteen." Landau's statement might've held true for the next 10 years, but thankfully rock 'n' roll has since evolved beyond its macho swagger. Nowadays the future of rock 'n' roll looks like a 29-year-old genderfluid Jewish kid from Chicago. Like Jonathan Richman with lipstick and a mini-dress, Ezra Furman writes instantly catchy power-pop anthems, so loose they seem constantly on the verge of falling apart. His latest album, Perpetual Motion People, recorded with his band the Boy-Friends (following the dissolution of his first band, the Harpoons), deals with issues of depression, gender identity, and body shaming—not traditional rock 'n' roll subject matter. But with Furman's guttural growls, jangly guitar melodies, and tenor saxophonist Tim Sandusky serving as Furman's own Clarence Clemons, Perpetual Motion People is the shape of rock 'n' roll to come, and not a moment too soon. SANTI ELIJAH HOLLEY
THE THESIS: EPP, DODGR, NEILL VON TALLY, MIC CAPES, ELTON CRAY, VERBZ
(Kelly's Olympian, 426 SW Washington) Read our article on the Thesis.
THE JACKALOPE SAINTS, RYAN SOLLEE, THE MONDEGREENS, PRETTY GRITTY
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) Portland's Jackalope Saints have been busy this fall, stacking up lots of live shows rather than laying low in the cold months. That could be by design; Clinton Herrick's Americana explorations come to life with a musical support group of banjos, mandolins, fiddles, slide guitar, and more, echoing the gritty wilds of the once-unknown West. The band's live shows are bona fide hootenannies, and though their last album was released almost two years ago, the band's been dropping hints that they'll have new tunes in 2016. Recently, the group visited Fremont Studios to record two songs, including a Townes Van Zandt cover. Wait with bated breath for those to be released, or maybe they'll play 'em at tonight's show. RYAN J. PRADO
ODESZA, HAYDEN JAMES, BIG WILD
(Roseland, 8 NW 6th) The rise of Odesza has been quietly stunning. In an era when musical acts—from Vampire Weekend to the Lumineers to G-Eazy to Sturgill Simpson—catch a web-fueled wave of popularity and go from small or mid-sized venue to huge concert hall in a matter of months, this Seattle-based electro-pop duo has experienced a next-level surge of success. For months now, the "shows" tab on their website has been a sea of sold-out multi-night headlining stands in rooms that hold thousands of people. It has really been an incredible thing to watch, if you've been watching. As for the music, Odesza's glitchy, hyper-melodic pop makes heavy use of ethereal vocal samples and generally sounds like a gorgeous sunrise in a groggy, glittery futureworld. Or something like that. I may not know how to describe it, but Odesza has clearly figured it out. BEN SALMON
ELLE KING, CAT HOCH
(Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside) Elle King hails from Brooklyn, but her twangy badassery could be confused for an "Austin-tatious" Texan. Part Southern rockabilly, part blues-pop, King's music constantly keeps you on your toes, and makes you dance a few different styles along the way. Though King is the offspring of Rob Schneider and model London King, she does her own thing; she taught herself how to play the banjo, she writes her own tunes, and she got herself signed with no help from pops. Her debut album came out in February, and offers an array of love and loss via a crackly, mature voice—like an angry but hopeful Cat Power. If you've got a hankerin' for banjo ballads and anthems worthy of Amy Winehouse or the Black Keys, let's hope you already have tickets to this sold-out show. ROSE FINN
PORTLAND CELLO PROJECT, JENNY CONLEE, CHRIS FUNK, JON NEUFELD
(Revolution Hall, 1300 SE Stark) See My, What a Busy Week!
THE THESIS: FOUNTAINE, VERBZ
(AIA Portland, 403 NW 11th) Read our article on the Thesis.
TOUCAN SAM AND THE FRUITLOOPS, DJ SANTA
(AFRU Gallery, 532 SE Oak) See All-Ages Action!
ODESZA, HAYDEN JAMES, BIG WILD
(Roseland, 8 NW 6th) See Thursday's listing.
PASS, SABONIS, ROD, ALIEN BOY
(Anarres Infoshop, 7101 N Lombard) About a year after releasing their debut self-titled tape, Pass took the customary awkward "signing" photo with the founders of Portland DIY pop-punk label Good Cheer Records, Mo Troper (a Mercury columnist) and Blake Hickman. As their inaugural release on the label, the three- (sometimes four-) piece have just banged out a five-song follow-up EP, Ways Out. It's highlighted by moments of heady stoner-metal and post-punk instrumentation, only with scratchily melodic vocal hooks from the group's guitarist/vocalist Drake Elliott. Songs like "Trailer Man" seem like they are going to fall into a three-minute pop-punk formula, but the group surprises you with a dark, sludgy breakdown that makes for a much fuller yet still infectious pop song. Joining Pass are twinkle-punk labelmates Sabonis, the infinitely catchy Rod, and the shoegazing-post-punkers Alien Boy, back from a West Coast tour. Because what tape release is complete without a kick-ass party with some of the city's best bands? CAMERON CROWELL
MIKE KROL, RUPERT ANGELEYES
(Bunk Bar, 1028 SE Water) In a perfect world, Los Angeles-by-way-of-Milwaukee garage-rocker Mike Krol would be a household name. Take one listen to Krol's recent album, Turkey, and try not to be won over by his distinct nasal voice and heart-on-sleeve lyrics, which he combines seamlessly with a lo-fi, distorted take on power pop. Clocking in at 18 minutes, Turkey is easily one of the year's most addictive listens. When Krol rolled through Portland earlier this year in support of Superchunk frontman Mac McCaughan, his band completely stole the show. Donning full-on cop outfits and lining the Doug Fir stage with barbed wire and flashing sirens, Krol patrolled the half-filled venue, bouncing around and belting out passionate lyrics about his stolen bike and broken heart. Much like his garage-rock contemporary Nobunny, the act doesn't rely on the gimmick to be great, and Krol's top-notch songwriting and over-the-top energy are more than enough to win you over. CHIPP TERWILLIGER
BLEACH BLONDE DUDES, ICE QUEENS, KILLED BY HEALTH
(Kelly's Olympian, 426 SW Washington) Bleach Blonde Dudes are tongue-in-cheek manipulators who play with their band's visual component like they play with the noises from their guitars and pedals: freely and with a sense of wit. The graphics on their Facebook and Bandcamp pages look like they're pulled from Bodybuilders R Us. The band—vocalist/keyboardist Jon Timm, drummer Bryan Wollen (also of the Century), Phil Nelson on guitar, and Ethan Pierce on bass and keys—are DIY at its finest, choosing to record to tape in basements and sticking to a loose formula of playful and quirky pop rock, not afraid to break meter or break into a cultlike chant. The follow-up to their 2014 release, Prismo Beach Tape, is coming this spring, no doubt continuing Bleach Blonde Dudes' trend into the absurd. JENI WREN STOTTRUP
HOWLER, HOLLOW SIDEWALKS,THE VERNER PANTONS
(The Know, 2026 NE Alberta) Portland's Hollow Sidewalks casually catch your ear and pull you in until you can't get enough. It's a feeling that lurks beneath the mystical tapestry of their psychedelic post-punk sound, as if there's a bigger story waiting to be uncovered. Frontwoman Nora Murphy Hughes' lazy drawl, reminiscent of early Siouxsie Sioux, is backed by solid rhythm and understated, wandering guitar riffs. Hollow Sidewalks' music is easy to lose yourself in, and has that rare ability to speak to a child of rock 'n' roll of any generation. CHRISTINA BROUSSARD
COLD WAR KIDS, DOGHEART
(Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside) If you've listened to any rock radio station since 2007, you have heard Cold War Kids' "Hang Me Up to Dry," with its simple yet exceedingly catchy guitar solo, clear-voiced lead singer, and biblical symbolism. Since then the group released five albums and added Modest Mouse drummer Joe Plummer, but never fully broke back into the mix of wide-reaching pop-rock. This is not because the group experimented with their songwriting; they still sound like a mish-mash of bland pop-rock like the Maine and Jason Mraz. Cold War Kids could learn a thing or two from U2, who learned that for greater pop success, they had to disguise their Christian-rock roots. It seems Cold War Kids are following the footsteps of Creed instead, wearing fallen-angel metaphors on their sleeves. There is respect to be given for not shying from their ideals, although not enough to make me like their records. CC
SUGAR TOWN SNO-BALL: DJ ACTION SLACKS, DJ LARSUPREME
(The Spare Room, 4830 NE 42nd) See My, What a Busy Week!
NIGHT BIRDS, PUBLIC EYE, PISS TEST, ANDY PLACE AND THE COOLHEADS
(Black Water Bar, 835 NE Broadway) Night Birds shouldn't really work. In a touring landscape full of post-hardcore or whatever descriptor fits all the bands getting national attention, Night Birds have created a shitstorm with straight-up punk played by dudes in relatively boring clothes. Their surf-riff-heavy sound sits in the same sweet spot between punk and hardcore that Adolescents and Dead Kennedys straddled, but the New Jersey crew accelerates their tunes to satisfy our sick urges for land speed records. Ex-Autistic Youth crew Public Eye joins the bill; Autistic Youth worshipped at the altar of Adolescents' Rikk Agnew as much as anybody, but Public Eye's now-streaming EP, Mood Change Party, most immediately smacks of Parquet Courts' love of aggression, displaced into classic songwriting and texture rather than surging beats or snarling vocals. Piss Test and Andy Place and the Coolheads kick off the proceedings with their twin theses on the nature of punk and the meaning of cool. MAC POGUE Also see All-Ages Action!.
IS/IS, SUNBATHE, GOLDEN HOUR
(Valentine's, 232 SW Ankeny) Is/Is possess a kind of raw, elemental energy like they're powered by river rapids and the moon's tidal pull. This vibe is fitting, since the Portland-by-way-of-Minneapolis band's genre is often described as "witch-gaze." Their most recent release is September's Return to Zero, a three-track EP that begins with the killer "Midnight Blue," a song that's equal parts celestially mysterious and unshakably hypnotic. Each "oh oh" is a star forming a pentagram-shaped constellation in the "Midnight Blue" sky. Joining them is Sunbathe, the alias of Genders' Maggie Morris, whose dreamy, dark pop harmonies coalesce in solar-flare choruses that are steeped in a bitter tonic of Americana-gothic. Opening is the three-piece Golden Hour, who also master sticky-sweet harmonies that fit within their complex tempo changes flawlessly. CIARA DOLAN
SCOTT KELLY, MUSCLE AND MARROW, DISEMBALLERINA
(Hawthorne Theatre Lounge, 1507 SE César E. Chávez) Longtime fans of Neurosis know that singer/guitarist Scott Kelly has been dabbling in a solo career for 15 years. Of course, it's probably taken that long for both fans and Kelly himself to become fully comfortable with the idea. Over the course of three studio records—sandwiched between Neurosis and his many other side-projects—Kelly has perfected his storytelling and music. He's heavily influenced by Townes Van Zandt, playing apocalyptic country songs that range from barebones to fleshed-out and fully realized with the help of numerous guest musicians (including some of his Neurosis brethren). Kelly has been through the trials and pitfalls of music over the course of three decades—this is where he gets some of it off his chest, and the listener gets an unfiltered take on life as a working musician. MARK LORE
(Lincoln Hall at Portland State University, 1620 SW Park) Here's a hot holiday tip: Unless you are a seven-year-old girl, I'd advise against any dancing nutcrackers, and while you're at it, avoid the seasonal onslaught of overblown Messiah productions. For my money, the classical shows to catch this December are these two intimate affairs involving one amazing dude playing one brilliant instrument. Pianist Charlie Albright performs Saturday and Sunday afternoon, and Sunday's upbeat program is perfectly designed for listeners with short attention spans. The setlist kicks off, I kid you not, with the impeccable Mozart riffing a dozen times on "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star." In addition to this virtuosic child's play, Mr. Albright is prepared to share shape-shifting works by Frédéric Chopin, Gian Carlo Menotti, and the awesomely named Modest Mussorgsky. Sure, he may have been an irascible alcoholic stumbling through the streets of St. Petersburg most of the time, but in June 1874, Mussorgsky hit pay dirt at the keyboard with his exquisite Pictures at an Exhibition. A piano masterwork performed live by a piano master? Bring it. BRIAN HORAY
JAY FARRAR, HOLY SONS
(Aladdin Theater, 3017 SE Milwaukie) Emil Amos is bit of a rogue. The former Portlander has for the past decade confronted the gray area between plaintive, introspective gloom 'n' doom and something that approximates lo-fi Americana experimentalism. It's engaging, shape-shifting stuff, and earlier this year, his Holy Sons project toured with doom pioneers Earth, leaning on Amos' multi-instrumental prowess to unite his disparate inspirations. On tour with the legendary Jay Farrar of Son Volt, the enigmatic Amos performs solo and acoustic, offering a glimpse at the bare bones of his many-tentacled songwriting. With a new reissue of Holy Sons' 2005 high-water mark Decline of the West, and this year's excellent Fall of Man, the closing of 2015 is a victory lap for the prolific songwriter. RJP
QUIET RIOT, BULLETBOYS, JACK RUSSELL
(Roseland, 8 NW 6th) A lot of questions went through my mind when I saw Quiet Riot was coming to Portland. What is the Roseland's dress code? Do they allow shirtless old men whose once-flowing mullets have been replaced with baldness-disguising baseball caps to just go hog wild or is security going to be amped up? How many times will the phrase "remember when MTV used to play music videos" be uttered? Does the Roseland have one of those fashion runway stages that are essential for '80s hair metal? Will the band be disappointed if half the crowd vacates after "Bang Your Head" and "Cum on Feel the Noize," or have they already prepared for that by making them the last song and encore in their setlist? After re-listening to the band's 1983 LP, Metal Health, I have realized that these are ultimately all questions I am entirely okay never knowing the answer to. CC
MODEST MOUSE, MIMICKING BIRDS
(Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside) When did Modest Mouse transform from breathing, working indie group to guiding winds in the lands of indie rock? The past five years have seen a wave of bands influenced by Modest Mouse. For instance, Brooklyn-bred songsmiths Told Slant dissect the gentle harmonics and ramshackle percussion of "Custom Concern" over the course of full albums. Portland-by-way-of-Montana act Sioux Falls channel every ounce of The Lonesome Crowded West's shaking-a-fist-at-the-sky rage into their explosive live act. However inessential 2015's long-awaited Strangers to Ourselves turned out to be, Modest Mouse are in full-on presidential library mode; preserve the memories for future display, and do as little as you can to tarnish them for generations to come. MP
DUMBLONDE, THAT POPPY, MR. CHARMING
(Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison) Read our article on Dumblonde.
ALEX BLEEKER AND THE FREAKS, THE LAVENDER FLU, GRAND LAKE ISLANDS
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) Read our article on Alex Bleeker and the Freaks.
BELL WITCH, WREKMEISTER HARMONIES, UADA, HANDS OF THIEVES
(Panic Room, 3100 NE Sandy) Read our article on Wrekmeister Harmonies.
(Lincoln Hall at Portland State University, 1620 SW Park) See Saturday's preview.
MODEST MOUSE, MATTRESS
(Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside) See Saturday's preview.
SANTAJAM: HUNTER HAYES, MADDIE AND TAE, A THOUSAND HORSES, JAMES OTTO
(Moda Center, 1 N Center Ct) The main draws for this tinsel-themed country package tour are the soft features and softer sentiments of headliner Hunter Hayes. The 24-year-old Louisiana native is still riding high on the success of his 2014 album Storyline and its radio hit "Invisible." But you'd do well to pay closer attention to the duo playing right before him. Maddie and Tae are the product of the Nashville hit machine, but they bring a sharp feminist edge to their radio-friendly anthems. Their biggest hit, "Girl in a Country Song," is also their most devastating, a critique of the male gaze as heard in... well, every tune sung by a dude on country radio. Their album, Start Here, extends those feelings over glossy ballads and raucous boot-stompers that celebrate empowerment and equality from the bedroom to the fishing boat. ROBERT HAM
DEL McCOURY BAND
(Aladdin Theater, 3017 SE Milwaukie) After a short time in the original bluegrass band, Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys, Pennsylvania native Del McCoury started his own group in 1967. Forty-eight years later, that band will stop in Portland for a show. The faces have changed, obviously, but not in a long time: McCoury's sons Ronnie (mandolin) and Rob (banjo) joined in the 1980s, fiddler Jason Carter joined in 1992, and bassist Alan Bartram is the "new guy," even though he's been in the band for 10 years. Together, these five fellas are arguably the best traditional bluegrass group on the planet; check their nine Entertainer of the Year awards from the International Bluegrass Music Association for proof. McCoury's band is a well-oiled machine of precisely plucked strings and high lonesome vocals that should sound positively divine bouncing around the Aladdin Theater tonight. BS
LAURA PALMER'S DEATH PARADE, OH ROSE
(Rontoms, 600 E Burnside) Although their name is a nod to David Lynch's dark masterpiece of a TV series Twin Peaks, Laura Palmer's Death Parade sounds pretty sunshiney in comparison to the '90s murder mystery drama. With gossamer vocals, dainty fingerpicking riffs that sometimes roar into a soft twang, and percussion like pitter-pattering raindrops, Laura Palmer's Death Parade is undeniably pleasant. Joining them is Olympia's Oh Rose, a band far more haunting and ominous. Their summer release Seven is at times joyous on songs like the shooting star "Lottery," but otherworldly yips and growls on tracks like "Running" will make your skin crawl (in the best way). They recently debuted their eight-minute short film for Seven, soundtracked by songs from the album, which features cults and blood and intrigue, oh my, Oh Rose! CD
ALABAMA SHAKES, THE WEATHER MACHINE
(Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside) Since their debut album in 2012, Alabama Shakes have risen quickly to fame, from playing the late-night show circuit, to receiving a handful of Grammy nominations, to writing soundtrack songs, to playing numerous festivals. Hailing from—no surprise—Alabama, the Shakes have standard rock-band components: bass, guitar, keyboard, and drums, but with driving force Brittany Howard singing, they weave through the genres of blues, rock, soul, and jam band, and even sometimes a touch of Afrobeat. Their 2015 album, Sound and Color, plays a little richer, a little more experimental, and as usual, displays the Shakes' effort to always fine-tune. RF Also see My, What a Busy Week!
THE MORALS, KYLE MORTON, BRYSON HANSEN
(Kelly's Olympian, 426 SW Washington) "Folk" (in giant bunny ear quotation marks) band the Morals are one of Portland's best-kept secrets, which is curious considering its members are two of our music scene's most venerable presences—XRAY.fm DJ and man-about-town Ben Hubbird and former Willamette Week Music Editor Casey Jarman (the pair also run Party Damage Records together, the label that—full disclosure—released an EP by my former band Your Rival). The Morals' last official release, 2013's digital-only Summa/Storms is a sparse, poignant collection of songs that sounds like if Simon and Garfunkel grew up in the Pacific Northwest and were influenced by Guided by Voices and Kind of Like Spitting. But it's the group's (entirely secular) contribution to a 2011 Christmas comp, "Let It Snow," that's the real showstopper—you'd be hard-pressed to find verse more painfully emblematic of Portland winter doldrums than "Are you all gathered by your windows with your noses to the pane?/And are your cups all filled with whiskey you've been saving for the rain?" MORGAN TROPER
CORB LUND AND THE HURTIN' ALBERTANS, DENVER
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) In his homeland of Canada, Corb Lund is a medium-sized star who's known for his blue-collar blend of traditional country, cowboy songs, twang-rock, and so on. He's never quite broken through in America, but then again, he might be better positioned to do so right now—two decades into his career—than ever before. Lund's excellent new album, Things That Can't Be Undone, lives somewhere between real-deal honky-tonk and accessible Americana, and he's got the power of New West Records behind him. He also recorded the thing with producer Dave Cobb, who lent his golden touch to Sturgill Simpson's Metamodern Sounds in Country Music, Jason Isbell's Southeastern, and Chris Stapleton's Traveller. Cobb has done no wrong for a few years now, so maybe some of that will rub off on Lund and give him the American audience he deserves. BS