Up & Coming 

Highlights in Music the Week of February 9-15

DR. DOG Crystal Ballroom, 2/13

DR. DOG Crystal Ballroom, 2/13

THURSDAY 2/9

THE PHARMACY, THE SHIVAS, GHOST MOM, MYTHOLOGICAL HORSES
(Ella Street Social Club, 714 SW 20th Pl) Read our article on the Pharmacy.

YACHT, LOVERS, JEFFREY JERUSALEM
(Wonder Ballroom, 128 NE Russell) According to the Mayans, we have less than a year before the apocalypse, so now is as good a time as any to (A) start thinking about what comes next and (B) immerse ourselves in hedonistic orgies. With so little time left, it's a good thing YACHT's fifth album, Shangri-La, gives us the chance to kill two birds with one stone. YACHT's electronic funk is, as always, situated squarely on the dance floor, but the words that Claire Evans sings with so much cool are centered on far weightier topics: namely, the end of the world. Jona Bechtolt's laptop hooks may be consistently addictive, but the songs are a little confused about how the end-time scenario will play out. Are we supposed to actively engineer our paradise or go out dancing like hell while the earth burns around us? Or maybe they're one and the same. REBECCA WILSON

MILO GREENE, FAMILY OF THE YEAR
(Bunk Bar, 1028 SE Water) Hailing from Los Angeles, that mysterious place where drama is manufactured and sold to millions, Milo Greene makes incredibly aware cinematic pop music that seems to pause at all the right moments: the ones that paw at those taut heartstrings to elicit the correct emotions. Not to mention the appeal of the rousing gang vocal in a pop song—four out of the five band members are vocalists, swapping lead vocals and often singing together, with Marlana Sheetz, the lone female, adding warm, feminine tones to a small men's choir. It's a twee indulgence that is not so easy to deny. The band is still quite young—there is no full-length yet, though one is in the works. In the meantime, they've released the remarkably well-adjusted The Hello Sessions EP, and with it, a flare that signifies approaching success; it's unlikely they'll be coasting beneath the radar for long. RAQUEL NASSER

JOHN GORKA, ROSE COUSINS
(Alberta Rose Theatre, 3000 NE Alberta) John Gorka looks ridiculous, and his name sounds ridiculous, and he's just some beardo white guy playing a guitar, but damn if his wordplay isn't mighty fine and his voice pretty nice. His are the kind of songs that end up on your mix CDs because your (beardo white guy guitar-playing) dad listened to him in the '90s and somehow you got a hold of a couple of good songs and I mean, who doesn't need a good anti-gentrification folk song for a mix every once in a while? "Buy low/Sell high/You get rich/And you still die." Right? And mad respect to anyone who writes smart songs about white privilege. ANNA MINARD

FRIDAY 2/10

TOO SHORT, STEADY THE BOSS, DJ CHILL
(Roseland, 8 NW 6th) Three decades later and 19 full-length albums, Too $hort is still dropping rhymes about all of his favorite things... and if you don't know what those things are, stop reading now. Even if 45-year-old Todd Shaw never shook his pimpin' ways, he's still managed to maintain the respect of rappers past and present (Tupac, the Notorious B.I.G., Jay-Z). Plus he was $tylizing his name with dollar signs long before Ke$ha and Gene $immon$. Too $hort has his 20th album coming out later this month called No Trespassing that includes song titles like "Playa fo Life" and "Respect the Pimpin'." Yes, Too $hort is a legend. And tonight's show is definitely one to see. Let's just hope he leans heavily on songs from Life Is... Too $hort and Short Dog's in the House, which are all you need. MARK LORE

SMALL SOULS, BARRY BRUSSEAU
(The Waypost, 3120 N Williams) Brian Rozendal, who's performed around town with his namesake band, and Bryan Daste, of Scotland Barr and the Slow Drags, have joined forces to form Small Souls, and tonight their debut EP, You Can Feel the Devil's Heart, celebrates its release. It's a gentle, acoustic, pedal-steel-laden affair for the most part, but as its title indicates, there's a certain storminess underneath these placid surfaces. Opener "What It Means" refrains from using any drums until its final seconds, when the song bursts apart; meanwhile, closing track "Lines Are Breaking" moves at a relatively loping gait until its rhythm section disappears entirely, the song's lyrics asking, "Will you come back for me?" Small Souls are already well on their way to being masterfully dramatic within the limited spaces of their unassuming songs. NED LANNAMANN

MOTLEY CRUDE, THE LORDY LORDS, THRONES, IRON LORDS, BITCH SCHOOL
(Dante's, 1 SW 3rd) Watching live footage of Mötley Crüe at the zenith of their career can be an asphyxiating experience (right up there with accidentally locking yourself in a Honey Bucket and being buried alive). On the other hand, a band smothering its audience with that much excess is an exotic concept to people like me, who weren't around when hair metal was all the rage. So cheers to wicked cover bands like Motley Crude then, for attempting to set the record straight—and man, do they do a fine job of emulating their idols, for better or worse (a lot of the time, the impersonators are even more enthusiastic than the real thing). On with the show! MORGAN TROPER

DRUNKEN PRAYER, THE UKELADIES, MATT BROWN
Secret Society, 116 NE Russell) Portland has become quite the sucker for Americana, whether it's the rowdy rabblerousing kind or the lonesome waltzing kind (both of which, incidentally, happen to be the binge-drinking kind). Cresting along this local wave of simple-thinking, whiskey-drinking troubadours is Morgan Christopher Geer—the man behind Drunken Prayer and also Warren Zevon's medium, showing him the world from the great beyond. However, while Drunken Prayer's self-titled debut erred more on the side of traditional alt-country, the new Into the Missionfield sets our honest human woes to a deeper, bluesier strut. From the simple ballad "Brazil" to the sly smile of the album's title track—where Geer sings, "Smile, you're entering the missionfield"—there is more than enough here to set Drunken Prayer apart from the masses. RN

SATURDAY 2/11

VALENTINE'S DAY PARTY: EROTIC CITY
(The Spare Room, 4830 NE 42nd) See My, What a Busy Week!

LANGHORNE SLIM
Bunk Bar, 1028 SE Water) Langhorne Slim just finished work on his next album, The Way We Move, which he laid down with his band the Law at Old Soul Studios in the Catskills, and won't come out until May 22. But you don't need to wait nearly so long to hear some tunes from it, as he's playing a special solo show tonight at Bunk Bar. The wandering troubadour calls Portland home now, but he's never in one place for too long, so it's worth taking advantage of his brief spell in town to catch this special performance—Slim's shows are always filled with his special, no-fucking-around, cutthroat brand of spreading joy that never fails to galvanize an audience. NL

BLACK PUSSY, JR. WORSHIP, KNOX HARRINGTON
(Ash Street Saloon, 225 SW Ash) Black Pussy—which is a Portland band, not a Too $hort song—is a well-oiled stoner rawk machine. The rhythm section alone can level a city block. The band's debut EP, On Blonde, is gorged with rock sludge and songs that are about as subtle as the band's name (it opens with a number called "Marijuana"). It's one thing to play heavy and get labeled as stoner rock; it's another to make playing stoner rock your mission statement. Live, the members of Black Pussy are a cross between Band of Gypsys and the biker chic of Judas Priest, which is to say these guys (and gal) are trying really hard. All of the elements of a great band are there—give them a few years and Black Pussy could be more than just a silly name. ML

JON RANSOM, MIKE MIDLO, CAIT OLDS
(Record Room, 8 NE Killingsworth) The package for Jon Ransom's debut CD, On a Lark, is the handsomest thing I've seen in some time, each one of its precious 60 copies coming in its own hand-sewn, silk-screened pouch that's fastened shut by a safety pin. The music inside is just as lovely, as Ransom's acoustic songs float by like clouds effortlessly making their way from horizon to horizon. Ransom cites Glen Hansard of the Frames and the Swell Season as an influence, and his songs are similarly uncluttered, directly emotional affairs, but Ransom is also capable of a modesty and warmth that's not often found in Hansard's melodrama. On a Lark is going to be something to treasure for a long time to come. NL

SUNDAY 2/12

DEATH SONGS, ASH REITER, NATHAN BAUMGARTNER
(Rontoms, 600 E Burnside) See My, What a Busy Week!

PINEHURST KIDS, BLOOD OWL, DEAD REMEDY
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) Blood Owl knows what it's like to have a broken heart, and they're not afraid to scream about it. With their cerebral, well-crafted double album, Raised Like Wolves/Released Like Whales, Blood Owl raise their flag in allegiance to the roots of emotional hardcore punk, before it became watered down, decorated with eyeliner, and shortened to "emo"—whatever that means. Like all purists, they won't endear themselves to everyone, unburdened as they are by any hint of the ironic or self-referential. Blood Owl's best songs are those that pair screamo vocals with soft, pretty guitar melodies and delicately arranged drums, as on the beautiful and appropriately named "Dirt Eats at the Heart." But these guys are just as at home with rage as they are with agony, with at least half their songs ("Merry" and "Grand Rapids") devoted to unmitigated aggression. RW

COLD CAVE, DBC, VICE DEVICE, DJ IKON
(Rotture, 315 SE 3rd) With the release of 2011's Cherish the Light Years, Cold Cave's second full-length for Matador Records, the urge to shrug off a Wesley Eisold identity crisis has gotten a little stronger. Once the frontman for ferocious Boston hardcore group Give Up the Ghost (née American Nightmare), as well as grindcore crew Some Girls, Eisold is now a brooding, dark-synth overlord, a metamorphosis that hasn't come without its fair share of detractors. But keeping in mind Eisold's well-documented penchant for slashing the creative envelope, Cold Cave's gloomy new wave shouldn't be that big a shock. Still, Cold Cave's obvious affinity for British synth-pop mainstays veers eerily close to outright mimicry; Eisold's voice becomes an amalgam of throaty English intonation and cadence over dark dance jams. Sound like pretty much every other '80s new-wave rehash project? Yeah. RYAN J. PRADO

MONDAY 2/13

DR. DOG, PURLING HISS
(Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside) Maturity has come quickly for Pennsylvania psych-pop group Dr. Dog. Amassing an almost immediately rabid fanbase seemed inevitable upon their inception in the late '90s, with an innately good live show, and the underground success of 2005's Easy Beat providing a primer to the band's '60s rock allegiances. Follow-ups Fate and We All Belong found the band more willing to stray from its overt influences, incorporating the more raucous elements of their live show into their records—this approach assured the mainstream success of fourth LP Shame, Shame, too. Dr. Dog's upcoming Be the Void feels less like the Kerouacian doctrine that the name might suggest, with sunny pop-rock ("That Old Black Hole"), big psych-guitar-and-organ slow jams ("Vampire"), and a return to their lo-fi roots on the excellent—and most single-worthy—"How Long Must I Wait." RJP Also see My, What a Busy Week!

TUESDAY 2/14

ROCK & ROLL PROM: MONARQUES, RADIATION CITY, YOUTH
(Rontoms, 600 E Burnside) See My, What a Busy Week!

COVER LOVERS: SLANG, THE STRANGE SUGAR BOMB
(Club 21, 2035 NE Glisan) See My, What a Busy Week!

HOUNDSTOOTH, PURE BATHING CULTURE, THE SOFT HILLS
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) Pure Bathing Culture is the new project of Sarah Versprille and Daniel Hindman, who made the move to Portland not too long ago—say hi if you see 'em on the street! The two play in Vetiver as well as countless other bands (their recent stint backing Jessie Baylin at the Doug Fir was especially memorable), but here they're playing their own tunes, which, as evidenced on their Bandcamp page, are lovely, dreamy, gossamer pop songs that could just as easily be morning eye-openers as seductive nighttime lullabies. (I dare you to escape the entrancing charms of "Lucky One" without hitting the repeat button.) Pure Bathing Culture's live ranks have swollen to include Pearly Gates Music's Zach Tillman; tonight they share the bill with Houndstooth, which in its short lifespan has already become one of the most reliably exciting bands in town, and the Soft Hills, a Seattle group whose album The Bird Is Coming Down to Earth has the auspicious US release date of February 14 (hey, that's today!). Oh, and tonight's show is completely free—don't worry, your valentine will have so much fun that they'll totally forgive you being a cheapskate. NL

AND AND AND
(Record Room, 8 NE Killingsworth) There are far worse ways to spend Valentine's Day than by helping Portland's most prolific writers of drinking songs celebrate the release of their new 10-inch record, Lost. Especially since the one song that actually is about drinking, "I Want More Alcohol (It Makes Me Sadder)," is a tragic story of thwarted love. Perfect! Set solidly in the musical vernacular of 1970s folk rock, Lost represents a musical coming of age for the quintet, especially singer Nathan Baumgartner. While it's more cohesive and focused than previous releases—it seems like an actual album rather than a collection of songs—it's still varied enough to showcase their impressive songwriting chops. But the biggest change might just be production value. From the passionate, almost operatic "Hiding Place" to the poppy bombast of "Buy You," each song has been assembled, arranged, and recorded with the utmost care. RW

GARY CLARK JR., WHITE DRESS
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) If you ignore his duet with Alicia Keys (and you should ignore the "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" cover currently making the rounds on the Information Superhighway), you'll notice that Gary Clark Jr. plays some mean blues guitar, as evidenced on his debut EP, Bright Lights. Add to that singing chops and the fact that he's a handsome young black man, and you've got a record contract with Warner Bros. Either way, "I Don't Owe You a Thang" is a fucking jam, and this dude is going places. Opening are White Dress, whose experimental punk blues is scary and interesting. Download their EP for zero dollars at arumrae.blogspot.com. GRANT BRISSEY

WEDNESDAY 2/15

VEKTOR, TRANSIENT, SPELLCASTER, THEORIES, NIGHT NURSE
(Backspace, 115 NW 5th) Read our article on Vektor.

SERIOUS BUSINESS, BÉISBOL, PALMAS, DJ E*ROCK
(Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison) Brothers Ryan and Jeffery Burian came up to Portland from California calling themselves Real Diamond, but they soon changed their moniker to Béisbol. Under either name, the pair make festive, fragrant tropical pop that's stacked high with the Burians' harmonizing vocals. In advance of their forthcoming debut album Lo-fi Cocaine—currently being recorded at Beau Raymond's Family Farm studio in Lake Oswego—the duo released a digital EP at the end of last year, and tonight sees the release of two of those tracks on 7-inch vinyl. A-side "Sunlight, Am I Fine?" is a perfect introduction to Béisbol's warm, sunny vibe, and a reminder—if the recent weather hasn't been enough—that winter never lasts forever. NL

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