Up & Coming 

Highlights in Music the Week of April 26-May 2

ALL TINY CREATURES Bunk Bar, 4/28

ALL TINY CREATURES Bunk Bar, 4/28

THURSDAY 4/26

MAKE IT POP!: LUZ ELENA MENDOZA, MATT SHEEHY, NEAL MORGAN, BROOKE PARROTT
(The Cleaners at the Ace Hotel, 403 SW 10th) See My, What a Busy Week!

FINN RIGGINS, AND AND AND, GRANDPARENTS, DJ IRON CHICKEN
(Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison) Locally, Finn Riggins is perhaps best known as that one band on the Tender Loving Empire label that's not from Portland—they're from Boise, and keyboardist Eric Gilbert was instrumental in arranging Boise's triumphant Treefort Music Fest back in March—but the group comes through so often, and has such strong ties to the scene, that they might as well be one of our own. Finn Riggins have a new EP called Benchwarmers, and while the opening title track is kind of a silly floor-mover, the rest of the EP is darker and more daring. "Arrow," in particular, takes on the trappings of an epic, and "Plural" gallops along, leaving behind a furrow of drama. NED LANNAMANN

CHAIN AND THE GANG, GUANTANAMO BAYWATCH, REYNOSA
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) Ian Svenonius once referred to traditional rock 'n' roll as a "corrupt medium" and that it was "pretty much just pap and product." He told this to Sassy magazine as he was being interviewed as an entry in the "Sassiest Boy in America." Okay, so it was 20 years ago, but he did have a point. Since then he's remained pretty true to that axiom. His most notable bands—Nation of Ulysses and the Make-Up—were fringe rock bands with a keen ear for rock's early R&B roots. His latest project Chain and the Gang is just as soulful, and just as venomous toward the establishment (or what's left of it). It's good stuff. And I'm sure in some people's eyes Svenonius will always be the Sassiest Boy in America. MARK LORE

RUSKO, SIGMA, SIDESTEP
(Roseland, 8 NW 6th) We live in a time when a dubstep artist who isn't Skrillex can demand $40 ticket prices. While many OG dubstep aficionados cringe at the genre's frat-bro-propelled rise to popularity in America and its inevitable, ensuing dumbing down, this phenomenon starkly spotlights a shift in young music fans' aesthetics. For the first time in ages, rock's stranglehold on the youth demographic may be slipping. Plenty of young 'uns seemingly would rather mosh to gargantuan bass drops than to hardcore punk riffage. Which is why an English bloke like Rusko is headlining the Roseland in 2012. Progress? Debatable. Recording for Diplo's Mad Decent label, Rusko (AKA Christopher Mercer, now based in LA) isn't a lowest common denominator producer, but he's also far from the original dubstep template of subtle, ominous stealth and avoidance of crowd-pleasing vocal cameos. On his 2010 album, O.M.G.!, Rusko thrust himself to the forefront of peak-time party-enabling dubsteppers. Now he's dabbling with light-footed drum 'n' bass on 2012's Songs and working with faded West Coast hiphop legends Cypress Hill on tracks like "Roll It, Light It" (you'll never guess what they're rapping about). Digital Mystikz and Kode9 are no doubt shaking their heads in disgust. DAVE SEGAL

FRIDAY 4/27

KARAOKE FROM HELL FINALS
(Star Theater, 13 NW 6th) See My, What a Busy Week!

BEN KWELLER, SLEEPER AGENT, NOAH GUNDERSEN
(Wonder Ballroom, 128 NE Russell) Read our article on Ben Kweller.

MY GOODNESS, BATTLEME, SECRET MUSIC
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) There's a pretty slick polish coating the outermost layer of Austin-to-Portland transplant Matt Drenik, frontman of Battleme, and his self-titled debut. The core construct of psych-influenced pop, rock, and hooky falsetto-folk receives a bit of a mainstream makeover with lots of dopey effects and triggered drums. Its otherwise seemingly mashed-up post-production compositions feature swirly slide guitars, tambourines, and a surplus of instrumentation that ends up buried. For every excellently textured party-rock cut like opener "Closer," there's a decadent dud like "Shoot the Noise, Man." But—and it's a big but—there's no denying Drenik's ability to make the most of his impressive vocal range, or his talent at melding the danceable and decorative aspects of his songwriting. There are more than enough quirky and/or unquestionably good moments on Battleme to hold your attention. RYAN J. PRADO

MARV ELLIS, SERGE SEVERE, CASSOW
(Ted's, 231 SW Ankeny) Cassow (derived from Picasso) plays tonight at Woohah, an event hosted by Northwest hiphop online media outlet We Out Here. Cassow has been making a name for himself around town with his conversational lyrics and personal content. Taking pride in rapping about more than just weed and girls—which is more than a lot of Portland rappers can say—his prerogative is to succeed, and that he will. Although his first mixtape and most recent album have caught a taste of national recognition and internet buzz, he is in that career sweet-spot where you can still say you saw him when. Right now he has the skills and confidence necessary, but has yet to develop the nearly inevitable late-onset rapper egotism, which is probably why his music is so accessible. If that's not enough, there's free champagne until 10 pm. ROCHELLE HUNTER

SATURDAY 4/28

FIFTY: ANOTHER POSSIBLE HISTORY OF DANCE MUSIC
(Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison) See My, What a Busy Week!

THE DOUBLECLICKS, VIXY AND TONY, PAUL IANNOTTI GROUP
(Backspace, 115 NW 5th) Read our article on the Doubleclicks.

THE MEMORIES, THE MISHAPS, MOPE GROOVES
(Troubadour Studio, 1020 SE Market) The songs of the Memories are ramshackle, buzzing, hissing things that can barely make it out of the gate before collapsing after a short minute or two. They're also stunningly beautiful. Under caked-on layers of lo-fi sludge, their self-titled debut is host to a dozen desperately sweet pop songs, each one of them crippled and lurching and gorgeous, fashioned out of twinkly acoustic strums, cardboard-box drums, meta-fuzz guitars, and little-kid falsettos. The Memories is coming out of Underwater Peoples, and its short 19 minutes are some of the best minutes released in Portland this year; the album will also see a cassette release on Burger Records. Featuring members of White Fang, Boom!, and Meth Teeth, the Memories are making some of the most damaged and lovely music in town. NL

ALL TINY CREATURES, COPY
(Bunk Bar, 1028 SE Water) I don't think that the eternally flexible recipe of guitars + drums + bass + keys + vocals will ever get old to me, and All Tiny Creatures concocted 11 new splendid variations on the format with last year's Harbors, an inventively appealing album that sounds like little else out there. The group is masterful at weaving together ear-pleasing harmonic tonalities with relentless rhythmic momentum, and the results sometimes sound like pop songs, sometimes like krautrocky workouts, sometimes like neither. Hailing from Wisconsin—and with members who operate in Collections of Colonies of Bees, Volcano Choir, and Emotional Joystick—the band has close ties to Bon Iver (Justin Vernon guested on Harbors), but their approach to composition is perhaps a bit more heady and physical than Vernon's lush emoting. It's no less involving and encompassing, though. All Tiny Creatures is on Portland-based label Hometapes, and this is their first Portland show; it should be one to remember. NL

JONATHAN WILSON, BROOKS ROBERTSON
(Roseland, 8 NW 6th) There's a lot to love about the sound of Jonathan Wilson's Gentle Spirit. Recorded piecemeal over a few years, the album was laid to tape via vintage gear at Wilson's studios in Laurel Canyon and Echo Park, and it sounds like a lost relic from those sun-dappled, weed-hazed years of Laurel Canyon's heyday. There are traces of David Crosby's If I Could Only Remember My Name, Obscured by Clouds-era Pink Floyd, and a tinge of Grateful Dead at their most rustic, and if all that sounds totally cosmic, man, there's actually not a ton going on under the surface. Stripped of Wilson's production alchemy—which is really astonishing, really—the songs themselves sort of meander and wander around without doing much. Still, Gentle Spirit maintains a hypnotic quality, becoming as a mood piece whose easygoing pleasure asserts itself with every bong hit. NL

TENNIS, WILD BELLE
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) The buzz around Wild Belle is already deafening. The brother-and-sister duo makes what can only be described as a sort of chillwave-y version of reggae, as dancehall beats glisten with sulky-sounding analog synths and Natalie Bergman's airy, stardust vocals. There's real power to Wild Belle's sound, though, with a thick bottom end and brother Elliot Bergman's massive baritone sax. Their debut album's not out yet, but it should be a blockbuster, as Wild Belle is danceable, glamorous, cool, and weird; expect 'em to be headlining much bigger shows next time they come through. Tonight they open for blog darlings Tennis, who are no strangers to heavy buzz themselves. NL

BEYOND VERONICA, QUEUED UP, KALEIDO SKULL
(Kelly's Olympian, 426 SW Washington) There's muscled crunch and heavy, swingin' beats in the songs of Beyond Veronica, but the Portland five-piece never aims for anything other than pure power pop. That's what makes their new full-length Hard Times for Dreamers—for which tonight's show is the record release party—such an enjoyable listen. With a sound that wraps up a rich history of girl groups, Nuggets rockers, leather-jacket punk, and well-coiffed new wave, Beyond Veronica have their ear keenly tuned to rock 'n' roll's past and know exactly which sweet spots to mine. Fronted by excellently named singer/guitarist Bonnie Veronica, groups like Blondie and the Runaways are easy comparisons for Beyond Veronica, but their stiletto-heeled rock is more reactive than confrontational. Not that it's any less fun to listen to. Little Steven would love 'em, and you might too. NL

SUNDAY 4/29

JASON LYTLE, HERMAN JOLLY
(Al's Den, 303 SW 12th) The best swag I ever got at a show was an orange bottle opener with the word "Grandaddy" printed on it. For the past 11 years, it has lived on my keychain, and I think fondly of them every time I crack a cold one. Mine was not the only heart that broke in 2006, when Grandaddy came to a slightly hostile end. So it's exciting that Jason Lytle is playing a week of free shows at Al's Den, with a rotating cast of buddies opening for him. His second solo album, Department of Disappearance, is coming out this summer, so it seems safe to expect a first listen of new songs, along with his repertoire of spacey synths and earnest vocals. But all of this may be burying the lede, which is: Grandaddy is reuniting! At least long enough for a string of festival and tour dates this summer. REBECCA WILSON

MONDAY 4/30

DEVIN THE DUDE, COUGHEE BROTHAZ NORTH, THEORY HAZIT
(Hawthorne Theatre, 1507 SE 39th) See My, What a Busy Week!

WASHED OUT, MEMORYHOUSE
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) Read our article on Washed Out.

JASON LYTLE, HINTERLANDER
(Al's Den, 303 SW 12th) See Sunday's listing.

BRAVE CHANDELIERS, JOSH AND MER
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) 11 Escapes, the new full-length album from Brave Chandeliers, is pretty slick stuff. You can practically hear the dollars pouring off the two-inch tape it was recorded on, emitting out of the grand piano that helms their soulful pop sound, reverberating in the perfectly warm tones of the lovingly remodeled Northeast Portland home the band recorded in. (This is all lavishly mentioned in the press release—as is a comparison to Maroon 5—so I'm not just sniping.) There isn't a solitary objectionable note on 11 Escapes; its mopey ballads and gently scruffy rockers are readymade for triple-A radio and hour-long dramas on the CW. It may not be my cup of tea, but I bet I'll be proven to be in the minority. Brave Chandeliers are an astonishingly competent band, and will no doubt be astonishingly successful. NL

TUESDAY 5/1

RAMONA FALLS
(Music Millennium, 3158 E Burnside) See My, What a Busy Week!

JASON LYTLE, BRENT FELLOWS
(Al's Den, 303 SW 12th) See Sunday's listing.

PWRHAUS, THE PERPETUAL DRIFTERS, UNI AND HER UKELELE
(Bunk Bar, 1028 SE Water) The musical arc of Chico, California's Garrett Gray has burst beyond the barebones confines of blasé roots-rock and into a more fully realized Americana stomp. With his band the Perpetual Drifters, Gray's released two full-lengths and an EP—capped by the group's most recent, 2011's Waiting for Saturn, a meditation replete with peppy leads and Gray's earthy vocals anchoring feel-good/feel-bad anthems. Along for the ride as part of the Cosmic Romance Tour is San Francisco-based Uni and her Ukelele, a formidable anomaly slinging old-time melodies with modest four-stringed arrangements and loads of sultry harmonies. It's a vintage California tag-team toting sunny songs just in time for our early summer, and you'd do well to embrace it. RJP

WEDNESDAY 5/2

PARENTHETICAL GIRLS, WAMPIRE, THE CROW
(Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison) See My, What a Busy Week!

PSYCHIC FELINE, BLOOD BEACH, ZOTZ
(The Know, 2026 NE Alberta) Read our article on Psychic Feline.

JASON LYTLE, CANDYSTAIRS
(Al's Den, 303 SW 12th) See Sunday's listing.

LAMBCHOP, ALINA HARDIN
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) The wonderfully imaginative world of Kurt Wagner has gone through lots of morphing. Whether in reinventing the way most music fans think about Nashville songwriters with Lambchop's debut full-length, I Hope You Are Sitting Down (AKA Jack's Tulips), his moody ruminations on traditional soul, or the all-purpose tsunami of sound that is the recently dropped Mr. M, Wagner's imprint is anything but easily identifiable. Mr. M's delicately orchestrated, easy-listening blend of Bacharach-ian lounge ("Gar"), string-sensitive sonatas ("Mr. Met") and whispery winners (the unassailably great "Gone Tomorrow"), though, is one of Lambchop's most cohesive listens to date. And maybe even their best. Wagner's frail, often spookily funny Southern disposition ought to coalesce well inside the bunker-like confines of the Fir. RJP

ROCKY VOTOLATO, KEVIN LONG
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) The evolution of Rocky Votolato has come full circle. Born in a small Texas town and living the better part of his life in Seattle, the troubadour spent years in the rock band Waxwing before settling into his current incarnation as a country-folk musician. On his own after a short run with Barsuk, Votolato continues to dig into his Texas roots, playing somber bedroom folk with clever wordplay. It becomes important to zoom in on those lyrics, too, as his sparse folk songs have a way of blurring together. But true is the audience that follows Votolato, as they kicked in nearly $40,000 in a Kickstarter campaign for his latest release, Television of Saints. ML

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