MEAN JEANS, P.R.O.B.L.E.M.S., THERAPISTS
(The Liquor Store, 3341 SE Belmont) With all the long lines, high prices, DUI checkpoints, and obscene expectations, New Year's Eve is fucking amateur night. Wilin' out on December 30, however, is for party professionals only. And nobody's party credentials are as bona fide as our beloved Mean Jeans. They've been Portland's funnest and funniest band for damn near a decade and, miraculously, they've shown no signs of slowing. (Along with sensationally sharp songwriting skills, god must've granted them mutant livers.) After fall tours of Japan and the East Coast, the Jeans announced their new LP will arrive this spring, care of Fat Wreck Chords. No telling yet if tonight's show will preview that new material, but one thing is certain: Waking up with a hangover on the morning of December 31 is reserved for the utmost party animals. ANDREW R TONRY Also see My, What a Busy Week!
Be sure to check out last week's Portland Mercury ["The Final Countdown," Feature, Dec 23] for our rundown of tonight's best New Year's Eve parties!
URAL THOMAS AND THE PAIN, DJ BEYONDADOUBT, DJ COOKY PARKER
(Eagles Lodge, 4904 SE Hawthorne) Scott Magee—AKA Cooky Parker—has been holding down killer New Year's Eve parties for several years now. With choice cuts and soul-shakin' 45s, he knows how to keep the dance floor cooking at just the right temperature: a sizzle there, a boil there, cool it down, then heat it back up. But tonight Magee's doing double duty, bringing in the live band he drums for to his annual NYE shindig. When none other than legendary Portland soul maestro Ural Thomas fronts that band, you've got the makings of a night you'll remember long after January 1. Ural Thomas and the Pain have their position as a must-see live band firmly locked down, and soon they'll have the recording to match. The Pain spent several months in 2015 working on a full-length album with producer Nick Waterhouse, and it will see the light of day with a limited vinyl release in the spring via Mississippi Records. With that on tap, 2016 is already shaping up to be killer. NED LANNAMANN
SALLIE FORD, Y LA BAMBA, CAT HOCH
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) Since breaking up her jazzy folk-rock band Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside, Ford has emerged with a new band of women and a rougher, more keyboard-friendly sound while still keeping her iconic retro-soul vocals. Ford sounds like what Quentin Tarantino might choose to soundtrack a surf-noir film (if only he had done the Point Break remake) about a sleazy Big Kahuna. Ford & Co. are coming off just about the most apt co-headlining tour with Seattle surf-rock favorites Tacocat, and their New Year's show tonight also includes Tender Loving Empire record label veterans Y La Bamba, whose Latin folk-rock has been a consistent force within the Portland music scene for almost a decade. The fast vibrato of singer Luz Elena Mendoza on "Michoacán" is already timeless. CAMERON CROWELL
THE LAVENDER FLU, HORNET LEG, DUSTY SANTAMARIA
(Turn! Turn! Turn!, 8 NE Killingsworth) Every year New Year's Eve shows get a little glossier and a little more expensive. I'm not immune to the joys of an elaborate production and bands with universal appeal, but the few times I've tried going to clean-cut affairs of this sort I've felt like I was participating in an odd simulation, a manufactured idea of what a wild New Year's is supposed to be. It never feels like a reset button or a new beginning, but more like being an extra in a movie where the main characters go to a NYE party. Thankfully, Turn! Turn! Turn! has put together an antidote to New Year's Eve gloss. Pairing local garage-rock favorites Hornet Leg with psych-folkers the Lavender Flu (the new project from Chris Gunn of the Hunches), this will surely be a celebration that's rougher around the edges in all the right ways. JOSHUA JAMES AMBERSON
THE PARSON RED HEADS, POISON BEACHES, LINDSAY CLARK
(White Eagle, 836 N Russell) The Parson Red Heads sound like cool camp counselors leading bonfire sing-alongs as smoke floats up into a crystalline Oregon summer night sky. The local psych-folk group's warm harmonies and wistful slide guitar wrap you in a welcome, familiar nostalgia that relays an overwhelming sense of hope. Their 2011 album, Yearling, is filled with happy-place-inducing songs like "Peace in the Valley," although the chorus is "Haven't you heard, haven't you seen, I'm giving up hope, if I know what that means." Tracks like this play like reassuring mantras that everything will be okay, despite the current forecast. This year, for their annual New Year's Eve celebration at the White Eagle, they'll play David Bowie's 1972 masterpiece The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars in its entirety—it'll be a night of "hazy cosmic jive" meets Americana psych. CIARA DOLAN
CALEXICO, BLIND PILOT, AGES AND AGES
(Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside) Tucson desert-noir rockers Calexico have built a staggering career since releasing their debut album, Spoke, in 1996. The band, including principal members Joey Burns and John Convertino, got their start as a rhythm section for hire, so it's no surprise that Calexico have built a reputation for playing well with others. I was turned on to the band by their excellent joint EP with Iron and Wine's Sam Beam, In the Reins, and Beam reunites with the band on "Bullets and Rocks," a song off Calexico's recently released eighth album, Edge of the Sun. The album also features vocal contributions from Neko Case and Band of Horses' Ben Bridwell, as well as a variety of instrumental flourishes from the Greek band Takim. While a less adaptable band might have buried their own sound under all these moving parts, Calexico are able to harness the pieces and conjure up something special. CHIPP TERWILLIGER
JERRY JOSEPH AND THE JACKMORMONS, KORY QUINN
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) Continuing what's become something of an annual tradition, Jerry Joseph and the Jackmormons are ringing in 2016 with their always kinetic live performance, though this time they are following their New Year's Eve show at Mission Theater with a pair of post-NYE shows at Doug Fir. Because maybe you're not finished partying. Because maybe your New Year's resolution is to keep the party going all day, every day. If that's the case, Joseph and the boys have got you covered. Through innumerable hardships and struggles, Joseph has remained a steady fixture in the local rock scene for more than three decades, and, even after being inducted into the Oregon Music Hall of Fame in 2015, doesn't appear to be slowing down one bit. So why should you? SANTI ELIJAH HOLLEY
JERRY JOSEPH AND THE JACKMORMONS, MEXICAN GUNFIGHT
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) See Friday’s listing.
CRACKER, CAMPER VAN BEETHOVEN
(Aladdin Theater, 3017 SE Milwaukie) David Lowery has gotten a lot of mileage out of the Cracker/Camper Van Beethoven double bills, having built up an impressive audience through the annual CampOut festival. The now almost Grateful Dead-esque following is something Camper Van Beethoven fans could never have predicted when the band released its still-brilliant 1985 debut, Telephone Free Landslide Victory. But you can't argue with good songs, and both CVB and Cracker have plenty of them—whether they're digging out the weirdo punk and Middle Eastern influences of early Camper Van Beethoven or the indie rock and Americana of Cracker's '90s run. If you're of a certain age, Lowery & Co. are bound to hit one or more of your pleasure centers. MARK LORE
BESPEAK LOVE PROJECT
(Star Theater, 13 NW 6th) 2015 was a big year for PDX soul... in the UK. In addition to smooth efforts from Jarrod Lawson and Tahirah Memory, BeSpeak Love topped UK Soul Charts. The creamy compilation album is a who's-who of the rich group of African American heavyweights who are putting Portland on the international soul stage, including the aforementioned Lawson, Liv Warfield's vocalists Saeeda Wright and Ashley Jayy, and more. The feel-good album is on point with soaring acrobatic vocals, multipart harmonies, and sexy jams meant for late nights and slow dances with your boo. The best part is you don't have to even leave the country to catch the BeSpeak ensemble—tonight's intimate show is sure to make you the envy of fans across the pond. JENI WREN STOTTRUP
THE BUILDERS AND THE BUTCHERS, JACKALOPE SAINTS, TURBO PERFECTO
(Rontoms, 600 E Burnside) Longtime Portland gothic folksters the Builders and the Butchers have been spread across the country for a while now, with frontman Ryan Sollee pursuing a nice solo career in the interim between live dates for the former Best New Band recipients. But with the holidays come reunions, and both the Builders and one of their lesser-known side projects make a pit-stop at Rontoms’ free Sunday Sessions this week. Turbo Perfecto’s The Song is a 20-plus-minute epic of progressive hard rock, shivery psych, and pulsing metal that contrasts hugely with the Builders’ foot-stomping cavalcade. Featuring B&B’s Justin Baier and Harvey Tumbleson as well as guitarist Joe Simon, Turbo Perfecto are a rare treat in the vein of early Kinski. The Builders’ set will feature the triumphant return of bassist Willy Kunkle from the far-flung climes of Australia and Europe. Prepare to get sweaty. RYAN J. PRADO Also see My, What a Busy Week!
SNOW ROLLER, SIOUX FALLS, DOCKS, TWO MOONS, CONFETTI
(Anarres Infoshop, 7101 N Lombard) Somewhere between Mac DeMarco and Brian Eno on the Chill-o-Meter, Two Moons' 1087 EP is like a candlelit bedroom séance meant to summon the rock 'n' roll reincarnation of A Charlie Brown Christmas composer Vince Guaraldi. All of Two Moons songwriter Aaron Liu's arrangements feel precious, his voice a muffled yet tender whisper within the cloudy smoke of a petrichor candle, but not without moments of twinkling clarity (see "Staring out the Window"). Backing Liu on drums is the ever-versatile former drummer of the recently defunct Portland screamo band Caregiver. Tonight Two Moons are joined by the post-Pavement indie rock of Snow Roller. Their 2015 split EP, Fadeaway, with fellow Portland act Sioux Falls, featured only two of their songs, but I'd be lying if I said the outro in "Ball Don't Lie" isn't one of the most beautiful pieces of music this year. Their already written and recorded debut LP is one that has me eagerly awaiting the 2016 Broken World Media discography. CC
RUN FOREVER, LOOMING, THE HAGUE, HARD SULKS
(Black Water Bar, 835 NE Broadway) Pittsburgh's Run Forever play the same sort of indie/emo hybrid honed to a formula by bands like Tigers Jaw and Adventures. That their sound, rooted equally in the high production-value of Death Cab for Cutie's Transatlantacism and the plaintive wailing of turn-of-the-century emo, follows in the footsteps of their Keystone State contemporaries shouldn't be taken as a slag. The sound of new East Coast indie and pop punk serves as overwhelming evidence against the notion that the internet has collapsed geographic aesthetics. Regional sounds still exist within the borderless world of online music; the difference is kids can now access bands like Run Forever from bedrooms in Tualatin and Tukwila. MAC POGUE
Happy birthday, Michael Stipe! So, how about an REM reunion this year? Cool? Cool.
WYE OAK, AAN, FOG FATHER
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) You might’ve noticed over the words “Red Bull Sound Select” on marquees around town the past several years. Before you start rolling your eyes, remember that these Red Bull events are curated by well-respected tastemakers in the industry, from bloggers (Gorilla vs. Bear), to radio stations (KCRW), to record shops (Amoeba), with the goal of bringing smaller artists to a larger platform. This round, curated by the Kill Rock Stars record label, brings Portland’s own Aan and Fog Father to the forefront, paired with Baltimore dream poppers Wye Oak. And if you take a minute to RSVP, the show only costs three dollars. Still not convinced? Don’t make me remind you it’s January and you have nothing better to do. ROBIN BACIOR Also see My, What a Busy Week!
EATON FLOWERS, TRANSLUCENT SPIDERS, DOUG THERIAULT, CHROME MOLE MONOCLE
(Ash Street Saloon, 225 SW Ash) Under the name Eaton Flowers, Portland avant-garde guitarist William Hardy makes what could be called layered canvases of psychedelic trip-hop—soundscapes that continuously evolve and can be enjoyed from many different angles. His work has been compared to painter Jackson Pollock for its kaleidoscopic density and the feeling that each song, especially his longer pieces, communicates many different variations on a theme. It's music that's perfect for a long hike in the forest, or down a rainy city street—any setting where the goal is to internalize an abstract view of reality. Eaton Flowers just released an exemplary experimental noise-pop EP on Sadodamascus Records as part of their five-part series featuring some of Portland's more eclectic electronic artists—it's totally worth checking out. CHRISTINA BROUSSARD