GRASS WIDOW
Backspace, 9/15
Jean Blacksten

THURSDAY 9/9

TBA: RUFUS WAINWRIGHT, OREGON SYMPHONY

(Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 SW Broadway) See My, What a Busy Week!

KEXP SESSIONS: THE CAVE SINGERS, TED LEO AND THE PHARMACISTS, PHANTOGRAM, LAURA VEIRS

(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) See My, What a Busy Week!

MUSICFESTNW: MAJOR LAZER, BIG FREEDIA, DEELAY CEELAY, RUDE DUDES

(Roseland, 8 NW 6th) Read our article on Big Freedia.

MUSICFESTNW: THE THERMALS, TED LEO AND THE PHARMACISTS, PAST LIVES

(Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside) Read our article on the Thermals.

MUSICFESTNW: JUSTIN TOWNES EARLE, FRANK TURNER, SALLIE FORD AND THE SOUND OUTSIDE, MBILLY

(Berbati's Pan, 10 SW 3rd) Think about everything you love about Billy Bragg (pop and politics, plus the occasional ode to the new brunette), minus everything you loathe (his self-righteousness and that "I look like Robert De Niro/I drive a Mitsubishi Zero" line from "Sexuality"), and you get Frank Turner. The (mostly) acoustic punk troubadour has a penchant for combining headlines and heartbreak into jittery anthems, while his lyricism brings to mind the motivational call-to-action of both Bragg and the saintly Joe Strummer. Turner is the real thing, a punk rock defibrillation that can jolt the life back into even the most calloused of listeners. EZRA ACE CARAEFF

MUSICFESTNW: A.A. BONDY, MARK OLSON, MIKE COYKENDALL, THE ALIALUJAH CHOIR, HENRY WAGON

(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) With a pair of flawless solo albums, A.A. Bondy has moved far beyond his '90s alt-rock salad days as frontman for near-forgotten band Verbena. First came Bondy's American Hearts in 2007, an exquisite and assured record of folk ballads that hinted blackly at love and loss, with all the good parts of country mixed in for good measure. Then last year came When the Devil's Loose, a ramshackle and perhaps even better album, in which each song blares like a ragged anthem across an abandoned battlefield. Songs like "I Can See the Pines Are Dancing" and the gorgeous title track flicker like half-burned candles in the windows of Big Pink—further proof that Bondy has evolved into one of the finest singer/songwriters in America. NED LANNAMANN

MUSICFESTNW: COLD CAVE, REPORTER, DANGEROUS BOYS CLUB, ASSS

(Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison) If you'd asked me what you'd get when you combined former American Nightmare/Some Girls screamer Wesley Eisold with noise artist Prurient (Ian Dominick Fernow), my first guess would not have been insanely catchy and affecting darkwave synth pop. But that's exactly what the two and their crew (which formerly included Xiu Xiu's Caralee McElroy and currently features Mika Miko's Jennifer Clavin) do in Cold Cave. The band's 2009 debut, Love Comes Close, is a superb record of morose new wave, its apathetic drum-machine beats and simply effective synth hooks treated with only the slightest touch of noisy fuzz. Its title track is like what New Order might have sounded like if Ian Curtis had lived to lead them; others suggest what might have happened had Depeche Mode retained Vince Clarke's aptitude for earworms throughout their later gothic period. Cold Cave are further recommended by remixes from the likes of Optimo, Pantha Du Prince, and Arthur Baker. Damn! ERIC GRANDY

MUSICFESTNW: BARONESS, RED FANG, RABBITS, THE THORNES

(Dante's, 1 SW 3rd) I don't care if you don't listen to metal. Have you heard the Blue Record by Baroness? Hol-eeee shee-yit. It's a monument of a record, a towering slab of riffage and powderkeg drums. It's heavy as fuck, and it's—saints be damned—really kind of beautiful in its own weird way. There are "Planet Caravan" moments of quietude, there's some insanely complicated prog-rock technical wizardry, and most importantly there's a gut-ton of heavy fucking metal. Of course, all the metal fans know this already—and know that Blue Record's predecessor, Red Album, is just as good—but the Savannah, Georgia, band has the kind of range, and a firm harness on more than just thunderous riffs, to appeal beyond the converted. The fact that Baroness aren't kings of the universe right now is baffling. Be prepared, because sooner or later, they will be. NL

FRIDAY 9/10

KEXP SESSIONS: THEE OH SEES, THE TALLEST MAN ON EARTH, BOBBY BARE JR., BLUE GIANT

(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) See My, What a Busy Week!

KNIFEFEST: FEDERALE, JIM WILLIG, HAWKEYE, DENNIS WILLIAMS, THE PINK SNOWFLAKES, SEVEN FINGERED PHAROAH, ARLO STONE, HOLY CHILDREN, AGNOSPEL CHOIR, BRUSH PRAIRIE

(The Knife Shop at Kelly's Olympian, 426 SW Washington) See My, What a Busy Week!

MUSICFESTNW: THE GORIES, THEE OH SEES, HAUNTED GEORGE, PURE COUNTRY GOLD

(Dante's, 1 SW 3rd) Read our article on the Gories.

MUSICFESTNW: WIZ KHALIFA, GRIEVES, BUDO, ANIMAL FARM

(Roseland, 8 NW 6th) See our article on Wiz Khalifa.

MUSICFESTNW: OKKERVIL RIVER, BOBBY BARE JR., DAN MANGAN

(Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside) Its no secret we have a majestic Santeria altar dedicated to Will Sheff of Okkervil River in our office—we're just a lock of his hair away from completion—so we were more than a wee bit thrilled to hear a song from the follow-up to 2007's The Stage Names leak to the interwebs last week. "Lay of the Last Survivor" was performed solo by Sheff at a recent New York show, hinting that the new album will be just as dramatic and lyrically rich as the Austin band's deep, deep catalog. Now that Okkervil is done making the rounds as Roky Erickson's backing band, let's all pray to Olodumare that a new record is on its way shortly. EAC

NW HIPHOP FEST: DARK TIME SUNSHINE, CLOUDY OCTOBER, HIVES INQUIRY SQUAD, IAME & MORE

(Slabtown, 1033 NW 16th) To anyone hungry for a taste of what our hiphop scene has to offer, NW Hiphop Fest is offering up a buffet of tantalizing proportions. As an appetizer I'd suggest the innovative stylings of Cloudy October, whose work is cerebral enough to tickle your intellect while also remaining humorous and playful enough to not take itself too seriously. Throw in the extra ingredient of an ultra-energetic performance style and you might find yourself having so much fun that you almost forget you're getting schooled. Recent Midwest transplants Hives Inquiry Squad offer up a filling main course with subject matter that has its feet in the street and its head in the sky, spit acrobatically over kaleidoscopic soundscapes. Scene vet IAMe's latest work is so rich that you'll most likely end up asking for some to-go in order to chew on it later. Regardless what you sample, you'll likely leave satiated. RYAN FEIGH

Saturday 9/11

MR. LIF, PHILLY'S PHUNKESTRA, DOC ADAM

(Crown Room, 205 NW 4th) See My, What a Busy Week!

MUSICFESTNW: BIG FREEDIA, DJ BEYONDA, DAT'R, THE UPSIDEDOWN

(Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison) Read our article on Big Freedia.

MUSICFESTNW: SLEEP, SCOTT KELLY, YOB

(Roseland, 8 NW 6th) See our article on Sleep.

TERA MELOS, WHY I MUST BE CAREFUL

(The Artistery, 4315 SE Division) Sacramento's Tera Melos built a lofty rep for playing insanely intricate and spasmodic math rock—you could say they guzzled Hella Trumans Water, and their piss stream is rich in those groups' nourishing nutrients. At its best, Tera Melos' music careens thrillingly, emitting flurries of rusty guitar chimes and mercurial, precision-slapped beats while toggling schizophrenically between no-wave-y abrasion and fruity melodic flourishes. With the covers EP Idioms Vol. 1 and their new album, Patagonian Rats, Tera Melos have swerved into a more tuneful demeanor. They're good at this new, more accessible approach, but Tera Melos are really special when letting their inner Captain Beefheart run riot. Let's hope we get both sides of them tonight. DAVE SEGAL 

MUSICFESTNW: TITUS ANDRONICUS, BOAT, THE GLOBES, AND AND AND

(Backspace, 115 NW 5th) If you only listen to one album inspired by the Civil War this year, well, sorry, Matmos. If you only go to see one Springsteen-echoing New Jersey act this week, well, sorry, Gaslight Anthem. Garden State band Titus Andronicus' recent sophomore album, The Monitor, takes the War Between the States as the loose thematic underpinning for a raucous and winning folk-punk album that has less to do with history, whether 19th century or Springsteenian, than it does with what it feels like to be alive and struggling at it right now. Frontman Patrick Stickles' vocal shudder, vague populist rage, and the band's fried electric guitars recall Conor Oberst's excellent old agit-prop rock act Desaparecidos, while the band's beery, gutter-mouthed ballads—lines like "I am covered in urine and excrement, but I'm alive" sung over a honky-tonk piano and the slow, steady saw of a fiddle—bring to mind Against Me! before they went all soft. Shit's on fire like Sherman's March, y'all. EG

NW HIPHOP FEST: SLEEP, MIC CRENSHAW, ROSE BENT, SOUL P & MORE

(Slabtown, 1033 NW 16th) The second night of the NW Hiphop Fest continues to bring a musical feast of local hiphop acts, with the female trio of Rose Bent rocking their inimitable infectious party rhymes combined with lyrically ingenious metaphors and fertile creativity over head-nod beats. Other highlights include Soul P, whose unfathomable depths of emotion unite with his gritty experiences to create soulful street bangers, as well as Sleep from the Oldominion crew, whose recent efforts have unsurprisingly been lauded and embraced by a national audience. In addition to the stylistic smorgasbord offered musically, both nights also include a multi-media experience including screenings of Northwest hiphop videos as well as artwork provided by Someone Clothing and photography courtesy of Arian Stevens. Raffle giveaways and prize packages from local hiphop labels and artists are just the cherry on top. RF

MUSICFESTNW: THE DODOS, SUCKERS, DIRTY MITTENS, THE HEAD AND THE HEART

(Berbati's Pan, 10 SW 3rd) For their 2008 breakthrough Visiter, San Francisco's Dodos came north to Portland to record at Type Foundry Studios, and for their forthcoming album they're doing the same. The early word is that things are sounding heavy, with plenty of guitar solos. Perhaps we'll get a chance to hear some of the new material tonight when they take a break from tracking to do a one-off show. Meanwhile, Seattle's the Head and the Heart are starting to make waves with their melody-driven folk-pop. Built around piano, violin, and layered harmonies, the songs of the Head and the Heart stack up a lot of musical ideas and tempo shifts in short periods of time, but leave plenty of room for their songs to grow. NL

MUSICFESTNW: SHABAZZ PALACES, CHAMPAGNE CHAMPAGNE, CLOUDY OCTOBER, THEE SATISFACTION, MOSLEY WOTTA

(Jimmy Mak's, 221 NW 10th) When it comes to Shabazz Palaces, believe the hype. Believe every single word, each breathless and hyperbolic description of the Seattle crew's graceful avant rap, their surreal flow, and their artistic production values. Emcee Palaceer Lazaro (yeah, that's "Butterfly" from Digable Planets) along with drummer/mbira player Tendai Maraire might be the finest hiphop offering the Pacific Northwest has ever had, and news of their recent signing to Sub Pop is only going to direct the national spotlight our way. Get ready, world. EAC

MUSICFESTNW: MENOMENA, AKRON/FAMILY, TU FAWNING

(Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside) Menomena's new album, Mines, continues their drift toward conventional indie rock and away from their earlier quirky restlessness. Now the local trio is poised to fill big rooms with the sort of crowd-pleasing, widescreen, orchestral rock that many other mid-level bands peddle—you know, the kind of thing that earns the approval of middlebrow folks who work mid-management jobs at medium-sized companies. Mines' songs are well-written, well-played, well-produced, well-arranged, and... well, well. The band's maturing, softening its edges, becoming more popular, and aiming, it seems, to inspire mass bonhomie rather than befuddlement—although "Oh Pretty Boy, You're Such a Big Boy" comes close to achieving the latter feat. Menomena's trajectory resembles Mercury Rev's, which means Mines is their Deserter's Songs. You like 'em just fine. DS

MUSICFESTNW: CROOKED FINGERS, PORTLAND CELLO PROJECT, THE MYNABIRDS, BARTON CARROLL

(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) Isolating yourself in North Portland during a music festival that is primarily based downtown is a risky endeavor. But to miss a show like this—with the most diverse bill you might find anywhere—would be unwise. The Mynabirds are the delectable vintage pop vehicle of one Laura Burhenn, one-half of the criminally forgotten Georgie James. We'd be lying if we said her What We Lose in the Fire We Gain in the Flood debut hasn't already locked in a spot on our year-end top 10. The Portland Cello Project lives for shows like this, and will have a pair of special guests—Janet Weiss on drums and Adam Thompson from Thao with the Get Down Stay Down on bass—backing them up. Speaking of backing, PCP will be doing just that for a handful of songs from the enigmatic Eric Bachmann of Crooked Fingers. Pour a new drink for the old drunk and don't you dare go anywhere. EAC

THE DECEMBERISTS, LAURA VEIRS, BLUE GIANT, WEINLAND

(Pioneer Courthouse Square, SW Broadway & Yamhill) This isn't the first time a show has been put on in Pioneer Courthouse Square—bands play all the time for the lunch hour, not to mention the infamous Dave Chappelle incident last summer. Nor is it the first occasion of a ticketed concert taking place on the bricks: Wilco played there in 2000. But this show is essentially the best of what Portland has to offer in the folk-rock department circa 2010. The Decemberists headline on the heels of their summertime recording session in the barn at Pendarvis Farm—the site of Pickathon—where they reportedly built a shrine to Neil Young. Not sure how explicitly the new material is influenced by Young, but the three new tunes they played at Bumbershoot all featured frontman Colin Meloy on harmonica. Here's hoping the hometown crowd gets to hear more of the same. NL

MUSICFESTNW: SMASHING PUMPKINS, BAD CITY

(Wonder Ballroom, 128 NE Russell) It's not hard to find a punchline about Billy Corgan. Ha ha, he dated pill-popping, fame-addicted trainwreck Tila Tequila. Ha ha, he dated—and musically collaborated with (!?)—Hollywood's favorite country bumpkin Jessica Simpson. Ha ha, he got Smashing Pumpkins back together for a mediocre new record and an entirely new lineup because none of his former bandmates wanted anything to do with him. LULZ TIMES INFINITY! But despite Corgan's current joke status, the dude wrote some killer songs 10-plus years ago, songs that are still so great they've allowed him and all his recent fuckery to still be held in high regard by tens of thousands of Smashing Pumpkins fans. It says something about how good Gish is that you can still forget the whole Tila Tequila phase while listening to it. MEGAN SELING

Sunday 9/12

MUSICFESTNW: THE NATIONAL, THE WALKMEN, THE HELIO SEQUENCE, TALKDEMONIC

(Pioneer Courthouse Square, SW Broadway & Yamhill) Read our article on The National.

MUSICFESTNW'S YOU WHO: THE THERMALS

(Kennedy School, 5736 NE 33rd) Read our article on The Thermals.

Monday 9/13

HELMET, BISON BC, SALVADOR

(Dante's, 1 SW 3rd) Crazy to think that Helmet was once considered innovative—nay, revolutionary—for having short hair and playing metal (albeit the weaker shade of the genre, alt-metal). Long before Metallica chopped off their Samsonian locks, the New York band passed through AmRep and eventually graduated to a major label, moving over a million copies of their breakthrough LP Meantime. Betty and Aftertaste both failed to produce another "Unsung," and the band faded from memory, perhaps with the exception of their cameo in The Jerky Boys movie. Now the band is just Page Hamilton and a few (short-haired) ringers, but perhaps if you ask nicely enough they'll regale the crowd with something from the Judgment Night soundtrack. If only House of Pain was still around to join in. EAC

Serpent Crown, Scaphism

(Tube, 18 NW 3rd) When it comes to some metal, the low-end gets lost in the mix, as screaming guitars and blazing solos can often take the foreground, leaving the bass ignored in the back somewhere. San Francisco's Serpent Crown don't subscribe to that philosophy. The trio's songs go from thrash to heavy rock to hardcore and back again. However, their genre-jumping ways are always unified by the girth of their tone. Dara Santhai's thick, fuzzy guitar and throaty vocals play a major role in creating the band's subterranean sound. Serpent Crown also features the rumbling double-kick and tom-heavy style of tub-clubber Will Carroll, who is currently a member of Death Angel. ARIS WALES

Tuesday 9/14

SCISSOR SISTERS, SAMMY JO, CASEY SPOONER

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

THE GASLIGHT ANTHEM, THE MENZINGERS, FAKE PROBLEMS

(Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside) No fooling, American Slang is no The '59 Sound. But that's more a statement on the staying power of the Gaslight Anthem's 2008 recording than it is a knock on their latest. On American Slang the Jersey band stays true to their whiskey rasp and Springsteen obsession, creating yet another inspiring lot of us-against-the-world rallying cries. Amid more tales of hard-luck characters trying to get out—one assumes that means leaving Hub City—frontman Brian Fallon branches out a bit, showing a little soul with the bouncy "The Diamond Church Street Choir" (which sounds like a cross between Orleans' "Still the One" and the Clash's "Jimmy Jazz") and ending things on a solemn note with the closing "We Did it When We Were Young." Between Gaslight Anthem, Titus Andronicus, and Ted Leo, let's all thank the Garden State for soundtracking our week. EAC

DAX RIGGS

(Dante's, 1 SW 3rd) Possessing an instantly recognizable baritone, Dax Riggs finally seems to be comfortable releasing music under his own name. As a member of Acid Bath and Deadboy and the Elephantmen, Riggs has released a range of heavy rock, metal, and blues over the years. His first solo shows were under the name T-Daks and His White Plastic Soul, but thankfully he settled on plain ol' Dax Riggs for his two proper solo albums, the most recent of which—the solid Say Goodnight to the World—sees his familiar, psych-twinged take on slinky delta blues with a metaller's love of stoner riffs. With slowly meditative beats and gentle undercurrents, Say Goodnight ranges from the flower-power of "You Were Born to Be My Gallows" to the glam-chug of "Let Me Be Your Cigarette" to the epic bliss-out of "Sleeping with the Witch," all of which prove that at the very least, Riggs knows his way around a song title. NL

MARINA AND THE DIAMONDS, YOUNG THE GIANT

(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) The glittery and glossy pop from UK phenomenon Marina and the Diamonds falls somewhere between the acceptable ranks of Kate Nash or Robyn, and shameful chart-topping starlets like Katy Perry or Ke$$$$$$ha. Unless you are one of Gaga's Little Monsters, The Family Jewels is hard to make it through in a single sitting—restraint is nowhere to be found on this recording—yet its cartoonish obnoxiousness is part of Marina's shimmering arsenal. No matter how much you fight it, songs like "Oh No!" and "Shampain" burrow into your skull, leaving you with little option other than to just shake-shake-shake it out on the dance floor. EAC

Wednesday 9/15

SAM AMIDON, RAYMOND BYRON AND THE WHITE FREIGHTER

(The Woods, 6637 SE Milwaukie) Read our article on Sam Amidon.

GRASS WIDOW, STLS, SILVER INTERIOR

(Backspace, 115 NW 5th) This past January, the ladies of San Francisco's Grass Widow holed up at the Pool recording studio in North Portland to record their latest full-length—and Kill Rock Stars debut—Past Time, a breezy 26 minutes of bittersweet, pastoral post-punk, lovingly assembled with an uncanny attention to detail that's no doubt owed to whole rainy days spent trapped indoors. The trio's well-honed songwriting and unique melodic and modal alchemy—intricate three-part vocal harmony artfully woven over and around adventurous, uptempo guitar and bass interplay—have never sounded so effortlessly charming and transcendent. Though the album pops with subtleties that beg for repeat listens, Past Time as a whole is very much an overt statement of intent to anyone who will listen—Grass Widow is a once-in-a-generation kind of band, and they're still just getting started. ETHAN JAYNE

AMANDA RICHARDS, PROFESSOR GALL

(Someday Lounge, 125 NW 5th) People, we are fucked. The dead have risen, hungry for brains (or flesh, or meaty ribs, or whatever it is zombies actually eat), and this time around hiding in a mall with a sawed-off ain't going to help things. That's the bad news. The good news is that local country crooner Amanda Richards has scored a soundtrack for the undead's flesh-chomping insurrection. Play Dead just might be the first zombie-themed country album (unless Merle Haggard has actually been dead all these years, which when you think about it is quite possible), told from the point of humanity's final survivor (Richards herself). Stripped bare of unnecessary rock opera flair, Play Dead is both sweet and enduring, despite Richards' bloody lyrical content. The end of days never sounded so great. EAC