AMIGO/AMIGA HOLIDAY PARTY: DREW GROW AND THE PASTORS' WIVES, KELLI SCHAEFER, BIRDS & BATTERIES, JASON DODSON
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) The good folks at the Amigo/Amiga record label/collective have had one hell of a year. And it did not begin well: Musician Drew Grow suffered a terrible car accident back in January, which resulted in his hospitalization and a very long recovery. Fortunately, things got better as the year went on. In March, labelmate Kelli Schaefer released her excellent first full-length, the magnificent Ghost of the Beast. Then Grow and his band the Pastors' Wives snagged an opening slot on Wild Flag's tour. To top it all off, Schaefer and her drummer, Jeremiah Hayden (also drummer for the Pastors' Wives, and head honcho of the Amigo/Amiga label), decided to get engaged. Schaefer, Hayden, Grow, and the rest of the Amigo/Amiga crew close out this year of ups and downs with their annual holiday bash, with sets from both Grow and Schaefer, who are now quite evidently two of the strongest talents in town. They're joined by the Bay Area's Birds & Batteries, whose great 2010 album Panorama contains at least one masterpiece, the woozily emotional "Strange Kind of Mirror." NED LANNAMANN Also see My, What a Busy Week!
AGESANDAGES, OLD LIGHT, 1939 ENSEMBLE
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) Old Light steps out of studio hibernation (where they're working on the follow-up to 2010's The Dirty Future) to build their mighty wall of sound. Autoharp and harmonies are sure to fill the holiday void that's burrowed into your soul, and it'll be nice to see what these lads have been up to. AgesandAges (perhaps you've heard of them?) will bring their PDX Chamber Pop Now™ to the stage—a big band in the literal sense, whose grandiose harmonies and sly hooks reign supreme. Rounding out the bill are locals 1939 Ensemble, who will set the mood with an array of vibes, chimes, and percussion: more eerie than cheery, and that suits me just fine. MARK LORE Also see My, What a Busy Week!
THE RUBY PINES, WORTH GOOSE AND FOX, 1000 FUEGOS
(The Woods, 6637 SE Milwaukie) Consisting only of Michael Backus, Moorea Masa, and one lonely acoustic guitar, the Ruby Pines are a stripped-down sapling of a band—not to mention they've only been playing together for the better part of 2011. However, there is something hauntingly familiar and innate about the music this mostly local duo is making. Backus strums through blues riffs while Masa's thick and resounding voice stands intrepid at front and center, evoking Etta James, Mahalia Jackson, and other great vocalists who form our concepts of early R&B and gospel singing, and have been overthrowing our emotions for years. And with their scant collection of recordings—the Ruby Pines released a solid, self-titled EP in March—these live performances are to be cherished, with hopes that new material will be cropping up soon. RAQUEL NASSER
ON THE STAIRS, JENN RAWLING
(Al's Den, 303 SW 12th) The weeklong residencies at Al's Den—the basement venue (and former sex dungeon!) underneath McMenamins' new Crystal Hotel—have offered unique shows from some of Portland's best musicians, all for the very reasonable price of free. This week, folk-soul outfit On the Stairs heads up a string of shows and special guests. The project of singer/guitarist Nate Clark, On the Stairs capably offers a unique take on standard songwriter fare by expertly injecting soulful grit and country blues. And he's got some friends in tow, including tonight's guest Jenn Rawling, and appearances by Leonard Mynx, St. Even, the Tumblers, Ed Thanhouser (whose band the Red Reds is set to release their great new Lost Leader record in the first weeks of 2012), and plenty more later in the week. NL
TUNNELS, MORI, JEF DRAWBAUGH
(Valentine's, 232 SW Ankeny) Nick Bindeman has had his grubby little paws in all kinds of projects, most notably Eternal Tapestry and Jackie-O Motherfucker. Tunnels is the Portland space cadet's one-man show, a sparer psych vehicle, where Bindeman builds off pulsing bass lines. The Blackout—his latest under the Tunnels moniker—takes a short sidestep out of the shadows, revealing some sharp hooks in those layers of sound. Think of it as a sonic appetizer to his more substantial work in Jackie-O and Eternal Tapestry. And in 2011, Tunnels has (d)evolved from that slightly creepy, weird dude in high school to a more confident, playful version of his former self. How you take this all depends on which end of the food chain you fall on. ML
WOODY ALLEN AND HIS NEW ORLEANS JAZZ BAND
(Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 SW Broadway) Woody Allen's best movies, in order, are as follows: 1) Annie Hall. 2) Crimes and Misdemeanors. 3) Sleeper. 4) Manhattan. 5) Hannah and Her Sisters. Woody Allen's worst movies, in order, are as follows: 1) Anything Else. 2) You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger. 3) Hollywood Ending. 4) The Curse of the Jade Scorpion. 5) Small Time Crooks. His latest, Midnight in Paris, dug him out of a serious rut, resulting in the most fun any of his movies have been since 1994's Bullets over Broadway. His more experimental films remain strangely fascinating, the most overdue for reappraisal being: 1) Stardust Memories. 2) Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid to Ask). 3) Zelig. 4) Husbands and Wives. 5) Deconstructing Harry. What does all this have to do with the fact that the aging filmmaker is playing clarinet with his Dixieland jazz band in town tonight? Almost nothing, except that if you're shelling out the big bucks for a ticket, you're probably well aware that he's a far more interesting filmmaker than musician, and you've probably got your own top five list in each of those categories. NL Also see My, What a Busy Week!
BLACK COBRA, DOG SHREDDER, NORSKA
(Star Theater, 13 NW 6th) There are math-rock bands, and there is Dog Shredder from Bellingham. Their frantic and chaotic prog rampage would be better described as rocket-scientist rock. Halfway through every Dog Shedder song is an intense noise-rock freakout that is probably played different every time. And it all changes when they suddenly, simultaneously stop on a dime and turn the song inside out into some other tornado of off-timed riff. By the end of each blazing tune you'll find yourself wondering how you got there, and why you haven't blinked or taken a breath for a while. Plus, you haven't lived until you see this power trio of frothing, sweaty, orgasm-faced maniacs play a spot-on cover of Yes' "Heart of the Sunrise." ARIS WALES Also see My, What a Busy Week!
OH DARLING, WE ARE NOT SHADOWS, ADVENTURE GALLERY
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) If you are one of the few people left who still admits to watching TV, then you've heard Oh Darling. Their music pushes the sunniest of pop music boundaries and floods the brain with feather-light hooks and pleasant endorphins—a heady cocktail that pairs perfectly with prime time. The quartet's roots may run deep in Portland, but they've lived in LA for going on three years, long enough for the sunshine to permeate every last chord progression on this year's Brave the Sound. The record is almost as adorable as frontwoman Jasmine Ash, whose ethereal vocals are centered on the happier facets of being in love. Synth pop locals We Are Not Shadows will make their live debut with a more ambivalent take on life, one firmly rooted in the 1980s and the fine films of John Hughes. REBECCA WILSON