SERIOUS BUSINESS, ATOLE, VTRN,
A GENTLEMAN'S PICNIC, WINSTON LANE
(Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison) Despite their name, I don't think Serious Business is too worried about keeping things serious. Emcee Danny Diana-Peebles and producer Jason Mampel make a particularly giddy, grinning brand of party music, with ample helpings from old-school hiphop, nerd rap, and elastic electrodance. The results are bouncing, insanely energetic floor bumpers, packed full of analog synths and goofy asides. It's the kind of shizz that sounds unbearably annoying first thing in the morning, and positively transcendent last thing at night. Most of the tunes on the Portland duo's debut, the seven-track Kool—which sees its release in a limited-edition CD tonight and will be available as a download after that—are snide, greasy, thrift-store-day-glo party jams, and plenty enjoyable for that. But during a few isolated instances, like on the feverish, apocalyptic buildup at the end of album highlight "Cheap Clothes," Serious Business exhibits a deeper—dare I say, serious—approach to crafting electronic music. NED LANNAMANN
WAX, TxE, CASSOW
(Peter's Room at the Roseland, 8 NW 6th) Hollywood emcee Wax is one of the growing number of independent artists using the latest technology to further their career and expand their fanbase. After initially building a buzz by uploading YouTube videos of his freestyles and musical performances, Wax has since parlayed his internet fame into a deal with industry giant Def Jam. He comes into town touring with his latest mixtape, Eviction Notice, an impressive assortment of party jams, weed anthems, and showcases of lyrical dexterity with a strong sense of humor throughout. Local trio TxE opens, on the cusp of releasing their heavily anticipated full-length We Get It in True. So be sure to arrive early before you party 'til the late night. RYAN FEIGH
TY SEGALL, MIKAL CRONIN, CYCLOTRON, STILL CAVES
(East End, 203 SE Grand) It's already December, but I think I might have only now just heard one of my favorite songs of the entire year. It's "You Gotta Have Someone," one of the sides on the upcoming Goner Records single from Mikal Cronin, which is due out later this month. Cronin's a relatively fresh face in San Francisco's saturated garage-rock scene, but he's the high-school pal of Ty Segall and has released a split record with him as well. Segall's playing in Cronin's band this time around (as well as headlining, with a special solo set), and in addition to the absolutely fantastic "You Gotta Have Someone," they'll likely be playing tunes from Cronin's just-as-fantastic self-titled full-length, which came out earlier this year on Chicago's Trouble in Mind label. Expect Cronin to dominate the garage-pop scene in 2012—and likely the years to come as well. The guy's tunes are absolutely phenomenal: pop perfection rolled in candy fuzz. NL Also see My, What a Busy Week!.
DANAVA, RABBITS, LESBIAN, DIESTO
(Plan B, 1305 SE 8th) The Pacific Northwest's answer to the Big Four? While not nearly as metallic (or old) as those '80s thrash monsters, the four bands on the bill tonight are just as abrasive, and far more interesting. Portland's Danava are hot off the release of their latest, Hemisphere of Shadows, a riff-heavy bastard that gets even more unruly at the four-piece's voluminous live shows. Rabbits continue to crush skulls (or at least rattle the skin off of skulls). Leading the self-proclaimed New Wave of American Psychedelic Metal, Seattle's Lesbian will make you feel like you've been punched in the stones while being stoned. And locals Diesto throw in lap steel on their recordings. Tonight = heavy rock at its finest. MARK LORE
LAUREL BRAUNS, SAM COOPER, ANNA FRITZ
(Alberta Street Public House, 1036 NE Alberta) Singer/songwriter Laurel Brauns is best known, along with cellist Amy Mitchell, as part of the band Sweet Harlots, but now Brauns has moved back to Portland from Bend brandishing a beauteous solo record called House of Snow. Recorded in a small nursery school here in town, Snow features an enviable selection of guest musicians, including the Golden Bears' Seth Lorinczi, the Decemberists' Jenny Conlee, and plenty others. With equal hints of dusky bluegrass and clarion Celtic folk, Brauns has written a batch of tunes that are brimming with earthy pulchritude, highlighted by her remarkable vocals and subtle but involving production from Portland Cello Project's Douglas Jenkins. Remarkable songs like the gamboling "Maps" and the stirring, album-opening title track prove that Brauns has made a record destined to become an evergreen. NL
JACOB ARNOLD, MIKAH SYKES
(Jade Lounge, 2342 SE Ankeny) Mikah Sykes and Jacob Arnold came of age musically in West Eugene, which in the '90s was an especially fervent hotbed of old hippies, peace-loving anarchists, and fringe drifters. Theirs, like so much of Oregon's homegrown art, pays homage to its land and the peaceful ways of its people. Arnold has spent the last near-decade with Cabinessence, a twangy outfit devoted to pristine composition, harmony, and exquisite instrumentation. Sykes, meanwhile, has been bouncing around avant-folk circles. After some time in respite, Sykes returns with a new album, Love Consequences and Serenity, recorded across the Northwest, from K Records' Dub Narcotic Studio in Olympia to sessions in Portland with the Decemberists' John Moen and others. A step away from his more challenging, free-jazz muses, Sykes' latest is sunny and open armed. It's one I've been waiting for from him for some time. ANDREW R TONRY
COMPANY, OLD JUNIOR, YOU
(The Alleyway, 2415 NE Alberta) Die on This Island—the six-song, 12-inch record from Portland rockers Company that came out earlier this year on Bulkhead Records—isn't your garden-variety, brash, bratty punk. Rather, Company helms a thick, sludgy sound with guitars that sound like jet airliners, and vocals that sound like barely audible dudes shouting over jet airliners. With tempos that go all the way up to "breakneck," Company also isn't afraid to dial things down to "slightly slower than breakneck," as on the deliberately paced, anthemic "Fire Escape," one of the highlights of the marvelous Die on This Island. They're kicking off a West Coast tour next week, so bid the local quartet adieu and make sure we send 'em off with wicked hangovers. Also on the bill is Old Junior, the current model of Old Growth, which earned a reputation as reliably one of the best, loudest, guitar-iest bands in town. The good news is that Old Junior is just as loud and just as good, as evidenced on their outstanding new debut EP. NL
ONRY OZZBORN, DCK VNNGT, HIVES INQUIRY SQUAD, ABADAWN, 835, MIGHTY MISC
(Ash Street Saloon, 225 SW Ash) It's quite telling that producers/emcees Bloodmoney and Sloth, collectively known as Dck Vnngt, first met online through a fan forum of rapper Sole, co-founder of the influential, genre-expanding Anticon collective. The two began swapping projects online, Sloth from Toledo and Bloodmoney from his home in Pittsburgh. It wasn't long before Bloodmoney decided to move back to Portland, where he'd had some pre-millennial success with his old crew Forgotten Dialect, and Sloth moved to town soon after. Their debut EP being released tonight, Mrdr Dth Kll, isn't as gothic as the title might leave you to believe, although thematically it is decidedly anti-swag. The murky socio-political songs are strong without being strident, and the unique production is reason enough to look forward to more from this promising local group. RF
BOMBINO, MATT JENNINGS
(Dante's, 1 SW 3rd) Bombino (AKA Niger guitarist Omara Mochtar) came to many Westerners' attention through Seattle's Sublime Frequencies label, which issued Group Bombino's Guitars from Agadez Vol. 2 album. He started playing guitar at age 12 after his family took refuge in Algeria during the violent Tuareg rebellion, and feelings from the subsequent hardships seeped into his music. Bombino flaunts two main styles: sparse, mantric, acoustic blues licks that radiate an ancient ache and lack, and a lacerating, highly torqued electric attack that recalls drone rockers like Pärson Sound. For his latest album, Agadez (on Cumbancha Discovery), Bombino moves into mellower modes. Accompanied by Western musicians on Agadez, Bombino sings with more conventional melodic soulfulness and his guitar riffs assume a more fluid tone. He's still purveying a beautiful rolling blues that you want to unspool endlessly, but for better or worse, Bombino sounds less desperate and hungry here. DAVE SEGAL
LOST LANDER, RADIATION CITY,
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) This brief blurb will make its intentions clear right off the bat with a fervent and somewhat uncharacteristic plea: Please, please listen to Lost Lander. Local songwriter Matt Sheehy's most recent musical undertaking will undoubtedly release one of the new year's most exciting albums. DRRT, due out January 24, is not only bound to cut a deep fjord directly through the center of your dull and desiccated winter heart, but the CD packaging itself also folds out into a super-cool planetarium that lights up! Double exciting! The record will not see its proper release celebration until Lost Lander's live show on February 3, but for now, come out and welcome the band back from their West Coast jaunt with billmates Radiation City. RAQUEL NASSER
STEELHYMEN, DEER OR THE DOE, GALLONS
(The Woods, 6637 SE Milwaukie) Using the word "steel" in the context of a band name is fraught with risk. Take Steel Panther. They have become famous for their parody/homage to glam metal, something that can only be described as a shtick. Many people enjoy them; nobody takes them seriously. It's entirely possible that, given their attention-seeking name, Steelhymen are the Steel Panther of riot grrrl. Or they may be truly inspired by the aesthetic. Given their mastery of the genre, it's unclear. I hope they're mad as hell, because their self-titled EP completely rocks. Anchored by Becca VandeWalle on guitar and Lauren Vidal on drums, Steelhymen have recorded four songs that pack a huge amount of punch in a scant 10 minutes. Fuzzy guitars, aggressive riffs, lo-fi vocals, and front-and-center drums conjure up 1995 in the best possible way. REBECCA WILSON
HAMMERS OF MISFORTUNE, CHRISTIAN MISTRESS, SPELLCASTER
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) Any Hammers of Misfortune album could stand up against the soundtrack for a major Broadway musical. HOM's sense of the dramatic and thematic make it easy to envision the band's music accompanying a grand stage production with interpretive dance, extravagant costumes, and exaggerated gestures and emotions. 17th Street, the band's most recent opus, has nine grandiose rock/metal compositions that could make even Andrew Lloyd Webber sweat. "Summer Tears" has the romantic, drunken swagger of a Ziggy Stardust tune with a chorus that's straight from The Phantom of the Opera, while "The Day the City Died" sounds off with exuberant big-top riffs and piano that emulate Queen perfectly. There's plenty of heaviness that goes along with all the pomp, but Hammers of Misfortune are clearly thespians at heart. ARIS WALES Also, read our article on Christian Mistress.
THE GROUCH, ZION I, ELIGH, EVIDENCE,
(Branx, 320 SE 2nd) I discovered Evidence the same way you did—as one third of underground vets Dilated Peoples. (The KutMasta Kurt-laced "Work the Angles" still gives me that face.) Even still, I always thought Rakaa was my favorite of the two emcees; in retrospect, this might just be due to our slight resemblance. Ever since Ev's 2007 solo debut, The Weatherman, though, I had to eat my words; his halting syllables, once kind of annoying to me, had coalesced into a bold cadence (as on the epic declaration "Mr. Slow Flow"). His voice, once dry as dust to me, now sounds like one of the last great hiphop monotones, used in pursuit of style, as opposed to total lack of. If only his "Chase the Clouds Away" had real weather-altering properties. Remember to take your vitamin D, people. LARRY MIZELL JR.
TENNIS, MINIATURE TIGERS,
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) Devon Williams' "Revelations" might be one of the best pop songs to jangle itself loose from the Slumberland canon in some time. The Los Angeles musician has always had the songwriting chops, but in recent years he's learned that layers and grandiosity aren't necessarily bad things. For the full experience, try his Euphoria record on for size. This kid likes his Wall of Sound and Paisley Underground, and knows the fine art of luring you in with a sweet hook while whispering you tales of loneliness and despair. ML Also see My, What a Busy Week!.
SISSY SPACEK, TOOTH ACHE, SKLLSCRPR, REDNECK
(Tube, 18 NW 3rd) Everybody knows LA musician John Wiese for his piercing, exploratory compositions, his obsession with panning sounds, his collabs with Merzbow, Smegma, and Sunn O))). Dude is loud. And his band, Sissy Spacek, is even louder. Sometimes sounding like grindcore, sometimes ground finely minced, Sissy Spacek delivers sounds ranging from evil basement computer to basement at the end of the world. Releasing four albums this year and touring up the West Coast with the ethereal Vermont synther Tooth Ache, Sissy Spacek takes their style from reclusive to prolific. SUZETTE SMITH
EMPTY SPACE ORCHESTRA, BLACK PUSSY, FROGBURD
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) If Empty Space Orchestra's songs had lyrics, they would feature complicated narratives involving centaurs, Nietzsche, and intergalactic space travel. This is not to imply that they are pretentious or twee; the quintet have made a name for themselves based on the trail of melted faces left in their wake. But they do assume a certain level of sophistication on the part of the listener—somebody who is not uncomfortable navigating the intersections of post and prog and psychedelic without any words to guide them, while simultaneously dealing with burst eardrums. Somebody who likely knows a thing or two about existential philosophy and science fiction. Empty Space Orchestra may be really loud, but that doesn't keep them from breaking out a flute or saxophone when it suits their whims. But not even shiny woodwinds can distract from the force of nature that is 24-year-old drummer Lindsey Elias. RW