Up & Coming 

This Week’s Music Previews

WIDOWSPEAK Doug Fir, 6/22

WIDOWSPEAK Doug Fir, 6/22

THURSDAY 6/21

JONATHAN COULTON, JOHN RODERICK
(Aladdin Theater, 3017 SE Milwaukie) See My, What a Busy Week!

THE SKABBS
(Jackpot Records, 203 SW 9th) Read our article on the Skabbs.

RHETT MILLER AND THE SERIAL LADY KILLERS, THE SPRING STANDARDS
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) Read our article on Rhett Miller.

CARLTON MELTON, GLITTER WIZARD, BISON BISON, WHITE MANNA
(Dante's, 1 SW 3rd) If there is such a thing as a St. Johns sound, Bison Bison could be accused of embodying it. The trio evokes the North Peninsula with solid tracks of sludgy, crushing rock, rife with a sense of Northwest gothic—and one that is informed by a particularly potent fusion of hard rock elements with melodic, funky rhythms and riffs. On tracks that delve into minutes-long territory, Grant Miller delivers classically ripping guitar solos, interspersed with plaintive vocals that remind me of the fierce veneer and rough twang of the Gun Club's Jeffrey Lee Pierce. Eric Johnson provides bombastic foundation on drums, while Dylan Reilly rounds out the sound on bass, creating scorching tracks to which you can both bang your head and blissfully jam. MARANDA BISH

SIX FEET UNDER, DYING FETUS, REVOCATION, ON ENEMY SOIL, NEMESIS
(Hawthorne Theatre, 1507 SE 39th) The smorgasbord of treats and company at this show is like a metal cocktail party. There's Revocation, an eclectic, tasty bowl of mixed nuts resting on the coffee table. Their brimming, salty bowl is filled with meaty melodic death metal, complex progressive thrash, and a little hardcore barking here and there, which leaves something to be desired. Don't worry, you can just pick around those vocals like walnuts. Dying Fetus is the obnoxious party guest on uppers that corners you talking a mile a minute about things you don't understand. Their death metal has some time signature experimentation and arpeggio sweeps that fascinate at first, but after a while you'll need to slip away and freshen your drink. Finally, Six Feet Under is the awkward couple that couldn't find a babysitter, so they brought their precocious six-year-old—let's call him Chris Barnes. You could care less about the parents, but the scathing, classic death-metal vocals that come out of that kid make him the center of attention. Party on! ARIS WALES

LEAVES RUSSELL, dKOTA, ROLLIE FINGERS
(Star Theater, 13 NW 6th) It is intriguing to listen to an album and consider that what you hear is a band's closest effort to enscapsulate their truth, to convey their experiences and inner worlds via instrumentation. The anchor of local project dKOTA, Dustin Johnsen, provides tangible insight into this process with an online video charting his journey in creating new album The Self-Dyssimilar. A montage of atmospheric meandering accompanies dKOTA's music, giving images of the album's creation: sped-up footage of the familiar sights of biking around Portland, there's the I-84 overpass, Big Pink in the distance—followed by extended scenes of band members experimenting with sounds in an expansive room draped with Persian rugs and guitars, working thoughtfully at articulating their expression for an as-of-yet unknown audience. MB

ECID, GRAVES 33, HALF MAN HALF, SARX, GREG AND JEROME
(Ted's, 231 SW Ankeny) Twin Cities MC/producer Jason "Ecid" McKenzie's new album, Werewolf Hologram, is a sprawling, inventive onslaught of lyrical incisiveness and freewheeling, sampladelic funk (anyone looping Vangelis's "The Dragon" and what sounds like Tim Rose's version of "Morning Dew" deserves respect). The album harks back to the Mush and Anticon labels' early-'00s heyday of maverick hiphop cultivation. Ecid raps with Sage Francis-like acuity and gruff, world-weary delivery over tracks embellished with a serious crate-digger's array of sound bites. Werewolf Hologram offers a rich tapestry of verbal and sonic unconventionality. DAVE SEGAL

FRIDAY 6/22

THE B-52S
(Oregon Zoo, 4001 SW Canyon) See My, What a Busy Week!

HAPPY LIFE SOLUTION: DJ SOLOMON, DJ HOJO, DJ vVv, DJ INITIAL P
(Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison) See My, What a Busy Week!

THE SKABBS, DEEP FRIED BOOGIE BAND, MAGNETIC HEALTH FACTORY
(Dante's, 1 SW 3rd) Read our article on the Skabbs.

SKELATOR, LAST EMPIRE, TANAGRA, RITUAL HEALING
(Branx, 320 SE 2nd) Read our article on Last Empire.

CLOSER ELECTRONIC MUSIC FESTIVAL: RAIZ, CYANWAVE, JAK, RYAN WALZ, MISS VIXEN
(Refuge, 116 SE Yamhill) Portland's second annual Closer Electronic Music Festival is a four-day festival featuring multiple venues hosting an array of talented performers from the Pacific Northwest and beyond. The focus on underground electronica makes Closer a good choice for the Portland debut of live electronic duo Cyanwave (Seattle's Justin Byrnes and Keith Kelley). Armed with drum machines, synthesizers, and an interesting philosophy on live performance, Cyanwave breathe fresh air into a genre that can often be clouded by artists indistinguishable from each other. Byrnes' background playing guitar in '90s rock bands and Kelley's extensive experience with Midwestern rave culture breed the perfect storm for a reinterpretation of techno. A forward-thinking value placed on "sound aesthetic over genre loyalty" leaves their musical experimentation limited not only to production, but continually explored via their live performances, which present an indulgence for both mind and body. CHRISTINA BROUSSARD

2:54, WIDOWSPEAK
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) Virtually all popular music is based on repetition—repeating rhythms, chord structures, catchy refrains. So why keep listening? Because the best musicians find mystery and suspense within those repeating phrases; a really good song is like a story that grabs you and won't let go until that final beat. Which is why London band 2:54 doesn't quite pass the test. Once you've heard the opening bars of any song on their self-titled debut, you can imagine, more or less, how the rest of the song will sound. Without much exception, you'll be right. Luckily, Brooklyn opening band Widowspeak offers much more mystery in their relaxed, wan, Velvet-y jangle and thump. Boasting some Northwest roots—members hail from Tacoma and Lakewood, Washington—Widowspeak have an inviting, involving sound, plus a devastatingly good rewrite of "In the Pines" on their excellent self-titled debut, recorded with Jarvis Taveniere of Woods. NED LANNAMANN

MIKAH SYKES, JESS WILLIAMSON, DAVID PLELL
(The Waypost, 3120 N Williams) Chances are that few people in Portland—if any—have any idea who Jess Williamson is. Which means this show has that rare and truly great potential: surprise. Williamson is a singer from Austin, Texas. Her voice is reedy, magnetic, and evocative, with bits of Joanna Newsom, Feist, and other such enchanters. Williamson is backed by two multi-instrumentalists, a girl and boy. Together they play all manner of strings: banjo, cello, and electric guitar, much of which is cloaked under cavernous, shimmering, spooky reverb. This tour is the band's first and, subsequently, their first time in Portland, which means they could be in danger of playing an unjustly empty room. Jess Williamson and her band are a ghostly, smoky, entrancing delight, and the intimacy of this show has potential to be extra special; on return visits to the Northwest there's no reason to think Williamson couldn't be the Next Big Thing. ANDREW R TONRY

THE EX-GIRLFRIENDS CLUB, SUGAR SUGAR SUGAR, HOWLIN WINO
(Kenton Club, 2025 N Kilpatrick) A number of squares heard the Ex-Girlfriends Club via their song "Blowback (I Am Your SuperPAC)," which became a minor internet sensation after Politico featured the video. Apparently, some people found it surprising when rockers in eyeliner and feather boas acknowledged the 1970s were dead long enough to be pissed off by a topical Supreme Court decision. Unfortunately, "Blowback" isn't on Boo Hoo Hoo, the Ex-Girlfriends' debut LP, which avoids anything remotely topical. This is a glam band, and their province is performance, not politics. Frontman Albatross has styled his vocals after David Johansen of the New York Dolls, though the aesthetic evokes a particularly druggy garage, with none of the Dolls' sleeker R&B influences. The Ex-Girlfriends excel at grimy nursery rhymes ("Coming Off Benzos"), with a few weirder, dronier moments, as on the album's standout, "I'm Not Your Man," a sleazy celebration of the single life. REBECCA WILSON

MARK GARDENER, SKY PARADE, HAWKEYE
(Star Theater, 13 NW 6th) Mark Gardener and Andy Bell's falling out and the resultant dissolution of their joint songwriting vehicle, Ride—one of the best British rock bands ever—was a terrible tragedy of the '90s, right up there with Princess Diana's untimely death and Star Wars: Episode 1. In a commercially motivated, regressive misstep, Bell would go on to join Oasis (who wish they were one of the best British rock bands), in addition to forming a new band of his own, the regrettable Hurricane #1 (which sounded a lot like Oasis). Gardener, however, went on to release some stellar solo work of his own, in particular 2005's roundly gorgeous These Beautiful Ghosts. Live, he plays a mixture of Ride classics ("Twisterella," "Vapor Trail") and newer solo material. It all kicks equal amounts of ass. MORGAN TROPER

GOREGON MASSACRE FEST III: PHOBIA, MASSGRAVE, TRANSIENT, BURIALS, HONDURAN & MORE
(East End, 203 SE Grand) What is it about gore and Oregon, other than pleasing alliterative qualities, that go so well together? Is it the long, dreadful seasons of weak sun, heavy rain, and persistent evenings? Is it the abundance of cheap, accessible spaces in which to create, perform, and experience music that destroys and demands renewal? For these and other inexplicable reasons, Portland assumes its role as rightful host of the third Goregon Massacre Fest (the first since 2007) in an all-ages smorgasbord of bands that crush and exalt. Over two days, groups from across North America will share the stage with local stalwarts such as Burials, Elitist, Transient, and Honduran, all of whom are marked by their relentless dedication to independent, self-sufficient music communities—including, but not limited to, those that desecrate and slay. MB

SATURDAY 6/23

WITCH MOUNTAIN, LORD DYING, SPELLCASTER
(Backspace, 115 NW 5th) Read our article on Witch Mountain.

GOREGON MASSACRE FEST
(East End, 203 SE Grand) See Friday's listing.

OPERATIVE, BEE MASK, MATT CARLSON
(Little Axe Records, 5012 NE 28th) Philadelphia's Bee Mask (aka Chris Madak) is an ambient-music producer of exacting tonal adventurousness and a generator of some of the most transporting drones to which I've ever levitated. He's matched in compositional excellence by Portland's Matt Carlson (of Golden Retriever), who's a synthesizer player capable of extraordinary dynamics and textural range. I recently compared Carlson's Particle Language LP to Conrad Schnitzler's Rot, Gil Mellé's Andromeda Strain soundtrack, and Morton Subotnick's Silver Apples of the Moon. Carlson's is some of the most riveting aural abstract expressionism happening today. DS

SCOTT LUCAS AND THE MARRIED MEN, MISSION SPOTLIGHT
(Bunk Bar, 1028 SE Water) Everything That Floats, the debut EP from Portland's Mission Spotlight, finds that happy middle ground between high, lonely twang and boot-scuffled barroom rock. Ryan Lynn's pedal steel draws clean, sky-high lines above the band's chewy bottom end, and Kurt Foster's matter-of-fact vocal delivery imbues each fuzzy ballad with easygoing honesty. These are tales told over the clack of a pool table and illuminated by beer-light, a steadier, less impressionistic—but no less heartfelt—cousin to Richmond Fontaine's literary version of Pacific Northwest country (there's even a track called "Winnemucca"). To celebrate Everything That Float's release, Mission Spotlight plays an afternoon in-store at Music Millennium as well as tonight's set at Bunk Bar. NL

THE MEN, HURRY UP, HAUSU
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) Brooklyn's The Men (not to be confused with MEN, or the long-defunct Santa Monica band responsible for "The Church of Logic, Sin, and Love") are a force to be reckoned with—just four dudes who believe in rock 'n' roll. If that sounds silly, then you probably take your music a little too seriously. If it strikes a chord, however, you know the power of a good rock band. The band's latest, Open Your Heart, sounds familiar without being a simple retread of what's come before—visceral with a little extra attention paid to the almighty hook. The Men are a band that simply does what feels right—kind of like the Replacements, minus all the booze. MARK LORE

SUNDAY 6/24

JIMMY CLIFF
(Oregon Zoo, 4001 SW Canyon) Jimmy Cliff is an international treasure. The man has more hits than you realize ("Sitting in Limbo," "I Can See Clearly Now," and "Vietnam" are just the tip of the iceberg), and they're uniformly terrific, all of them. Cliff has gracefully grown into his role as reggae elder statesman, serving as ambassador for a genre whose growth, in lesser hands, seems to have been stunted since its '70s heyday. That's not the case with Cliff's generous, consistent catalog. Last year, he released the sterling Sacred Fire EP with the help of Tim Armstrong (Op Ivy, Rancid), and now they've teamed up for a full-length, titled Rebirth, which is due out next month. The chance to see a master at work such as Cliff should not be dismissed lightly: The man dispenses good vibes better than just about anybody. NL

MONDAY 6/25

RUSSIAN CIRCLES, AND SO I WATCH YOU FROM AFAR, CRYPTS
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) Last week was the 10th anniversary of Botch breaking up. They are perhaps the most beloved and influential experimental hardcore band to ever come out of the Pacific Northwest, and unlike so many of their peers, they've chosen not to reunite. That fact would be a lot more difficult to accept if the band members didn't go on to do such fantastic things, including Russian Circles, featuring former Botch bassist (and sometime Mercury contributor) Brian Cook. I foolishly slept on Russian Circles' latest record, Empros, when it was first released last fall, and I beg you to not make the same mistake. Russian Circles' releases have always been impressive, but the band turned everything up to 11 for Empros, somehow capturing the mind-blowing dynamics of their live show in the studio. It's almost too brutal to listen to on headphones. Almost. MEGAN SELING

THE MOUNTAIN GOATS, DUSTIN WONG
(Mission Theater, 1624 NW Glisan) Few musicians inspire such profound devotion among their fans as John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats—evidenced by the fact that nearly all the upcoming West Coast dates are sold out. Not many bands peak with their 13th album, but that's just what the Mountain Goats did with last year's All Eternals Deck, which set a high bar for the upcoming, as yet unheard Transcendental Youth, due out in a matter of months. Darnielle has spent the last two decades consistently reinventing the Mountain Goats, and this version sees him performing solo. For those drawn to Darnielle's lyrics, and his willingness to stare into the face of darkness and still find hope, this will be plenty. RW

TUESDAY 6/26

Happy 56th birthday, Chris Isaak. What a wicked game you play.

WEDNESDAY 6/27

OMSI AFTER DARK: RADIATION CITY, THE ROBINSONS & THE PSYCHEDELIC FAMILE BAND
(OMSI, 1945 SE Water) See My, What a Busy Week!

GRANDPARENTS, XDS, GRAPEFRUIT
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) Grandparents is collecting badges and passing Portland music scene checkpoints left and right lately. Their industrious dedication and youthful excitement, as well as a tightly developing sound that's both reminiscent and refreshing, is all starting to build up to something big. Worth keeping tabs on? Yes. Grandparents' most recent release was a four-song EP from January entitled Fumes, which is jokingly said to be a reference to accidental toxic fume inhalation from an uninhabitable basement that may have helped influence their psychedelic dream-pop sound. They somehow manage to create a feeling with their music that's rough without being sloppy, sweet without being cute, and just sad enough to make you realize you're still alive. Expect new material from XDS (formerly Experimental Dental School), as they've been on hiatus since November and are in the process of recording a new EP. ROCHELLE HUNTER

TRUCULENCE, GENERAL NASTY, DEAD IN A DITCH, PSYCHOSOMATIC
(Plan B, 1305 SE 8th) Sacramento's Psychosomatic are a unique beast of a band. They play brutal, tight, greased-lightning thrash that also has an underlined punk snottiness to it. They jump from songs called "Church Burner," "Buckshot Breakfast," and "Skatan Worshipper," to ones entitled "Sexatary," "Gator's Surf Bag," and "Everybody Hates Me." One second they'll lay down a surf beat, then the next, a blast beat. Seemingly, Psychosomatic is a skate punk band that saw one too many "No Skateboarding" signs and finally snapped. Their cute NOFX- and Descendents-style angst mutated into red-hot fury, and they started listening to Slayer on 45 RPM... then tried to play even faster. AW

FOSTER THE PEOPLE, KIMBRA, MAYER HAWTHORNE
(Edgefield, 2126 SW Halsey) As ubiquitous earworms go, Foster the People's "Pumped Up Kicks" is reasonably harmless. Unlike a lot of other viral songs, this one doesn't turn me into a homicidal mofo after two hearings. So, kudos for that. Elsewhere, Foster the People pen facile, lightweight dance pop for people not old enough to vote. Mayer Hawthorne is a creamy-toned Michigan singer who creates convincing simulacra of Motown ballads and midtempo soul charmers. New Zealand pop diva Kimbra sang her ass off on Gotye's "Somebody That I Used to Know"; you're very curious to see what she can do on her own. DS

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