We're kicking off a new regular feature where we put the spotlight on exciting new music being released by Portland-area artists and labels, including samples of the tunes and links to where you can stream or buy the stuff that catches your ears.
Since April, Bandcamp, the online music marketplace, has been designating the first Friday of each month as Bandcamp Day. For 24 hours (until midnight tonight), Bandcamp will waive all the fees it takes from each transaction, with all the money instead directly to the artists and labels that ply their wares on the site. The goal is to help these music makers survive this ongoing pandemic—and its accompanying shutdown of clubs, concert halls, and record stores—a little easier.
Recognizing the historic moment we are in, many artists are going a step further and donating some or all of the money they earn today to nonprofits and organizations helping those citizens that have been arrested during the ongoing protests against police brutality or supporting Black Americans.
With that in mind, before we get into a rundown of recent Portland music worth your headspace, here's a quick, incomplete list of how some local artists are paying it forward for Bandcamp Day. (If I've missed anything, please email me and I'll do my best to get it added before the end of the day.)
- Though Mississippi Records has moved its label operations to Chicago, their Portland roots continue to run deep. That's why we celebrate their decision to donate 100 percent of the proceeds from Bandcamp sales today to Assata's Daughters, Chicago Freedom School, and Black Trans Femmes in the Arts Collective.
- Deep house producer Akasha System has just released Echo Versions, a compilation featuring remixes of his recent work, and will split the proceeds from sales of the album between the remixers, Black Lives Matter, and the ACLU.
- Local indie label Fresh Selects has a new single out from future R&B duo Sons of the James. The artist will be directing the proceeds from sales of these tracks to "to various bail fund charities and organizations fighting to defund the police," with Fresh Selects matching those donations.
- Indie rockers Fruit Bats are selling a live recording of the band's 2019 performance at Revolution Hall, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to Black Futures Lab.
- Ambient Americana artist Jeffrey Silverstein has directed his label Arrowhawk Records to give 100 percent of the digital sales for his latest album You Become the Mountain to Portland Freedom Fund and National Bail Out.
- Hip-hop label EYRST Records will donate 100 percent of the money they earn through Bandcamp to Don't Shoot PDX and the NAACP, from now until June 19.
- Longstanding indie label Kill Rock Stars will donate 20 percent of their sales today to Act Blue's Bail Funds for Protesters.
- Post-punk heroes Lithics will be donating their Bandcamp revenue share for sales of their brand new album Tower of Age and all revenue from tote bag sales to Don't Shoot PDX and the Movement for Black Lives.
- Rose City Band, the rambling psych-rock project led by Ripley Johnson (Moon Duo), will be releasing a special t-shirt today to benefit the PDX Protest Bail Fund.
- Beatmaker extraordinaire Omari Jazz has a new collection of tunes out today and says that "ALL the funds received for this project will be distributed between the least funded relief efforts found" here.
- Synthwave duo Visible Cloaks has a previously unreleased track on this compilation from UK imprint Qu Junktions and will be donating their cut of the profits to Don't Shoot PDX.
- Self-proclaimed "sappy garage rock" band Heart Lake will also be directly all music and merch proceeds to Act Blue's Bail Funds for Protesters and will be holding a raffle for t-shirts, too!
- The vital reissue label Collective Ego Death will be donating all proceeds of their sales, through the weekend, to the Black Resilience Fund.
- Apneic Void, the label run by experimental artist Daniel Schultz, will also be donating the proceeds of Bandcamp sales today to the PDX Protest Bail Fund.
- Electronic artist t04k has a new EP out today (Self-Inflicted Meditation) and is donating the money from sales today to the Urban League of Portland.
- Darkwave/ambient label Projekt Records is donating $5 from the sale of each of their sweet merch deals to the Minneapolis-based nonprofit Reclaim The Block.
Now, on to the music...
Cool Nutz: Father of Max
One release from this year that ashamedly slipped below our radar was the new album by Portland hip-hop mainstay Cool Nutz. The rapper known to his family as Terrance Scott chose this past Valentine's Day to drop Father of Max, his first album of the new decade. The record's sweet cover art—a picture of Scott gazing lovingly at his young son—suggests a softening or maturing, but the music tells a different story. His lyrics don't shy away from the anger and frustration of being Black in America but carry a measure of hope for the future. Scott's elder statesman status in the Portland rap community also allowed him to bring in a wealth of local talent for features, including Portland Trail Blazer Damian Lillard, Rasheed Jamal, Mic Capes, and Maniac Lok.
Bocha: I Like U
While Cool Nutz has been holding it down in Portland for his whole career, we've seen a wealth of young hip-hop talent make their name here before leaving for sunnier climes (Aminé, The Last Artful, Dodgr). The next one out the door may be the rapper Bocha. His new EP may be the next big step toward international acclaim. His laidback flow is hypnotizing, especially when accompanied by the downtempo production of his regular collaborators Sxlxmxn, Tawrence, and EYRST Records co-founder Neill Von Tally.
The Helio Sequence: Acoustic Live at the Triple Door
The Helio Sequence has been using its Bandcamp presence to sneak out a handful of special digital releases, including a collection of demos that they recorded ahead of making their 2015 self-titled album. This month, it begins with a recording of the indie rock duo playing an acoustic set at the Triple Door, the gorgeous venue in Seattle. With a little help from cellist Samantha Kushnick, the music survives the translation well, putting added emphasis on singer/guitarist Brandon Summers' affecting vocals and stinging melodies.
Interdisciplinary artist Jamondria Harris, who records and performs as meroitic, participated in a virtual residency at an art space in Spokane and used their time to create this haunting and psychedelic collection of sound art that feeds their poems and speaking voice through a bank of effects and electronic manipulation. What came out at the other end is a flurry of ambient sound and stereo-panned oddities that float through the air like a burst of pollen.
Lindsay Fuller: The Wake
Singer-songwriter Lindsay Fuller has the kind of current cult renown that usually translates into mass acclaim 15-20 years after the fact. She's beloved by many of her fellow musicians like Casey Neill and Indigo Girls, but that has yet to translate into the kind of success that a talent like hers deserves. Your chance to tip the scales begins today with the release of The Wake, a finely wrought collection of impassioned folk and indie rock that features several of her fellow Portlanders—Decemberist Jenny Conlee, Kaia Wilson, and Blue Cranes drummer Ji Tanzer—in supporting roles.
Black Water Records, one arm of a Portland media empire that includes a record shop and a dive bar, is perhaps your best local source for underground punk and hardcore, with an eye on fresh artists from around the world and keeping the music of the past in print. With the latter goal in mind, the label issued the first US release of an album collecting the work of Japanese hardcore band Disarray in 2014. Available this week digitally, the compilation is rife with short bursts of overdriven and often poorly-recorded anger and snot.
Daniel Menche: Atrophied Divinity
You cannot stop Daniel Menche, you can only hope to contain him. The ever-prolific experimental artist has returned with a new track, released this week by SIGE Records, that continues his exploration of string instruments (violin, cello) and electronics. Save this 19 minute ooze of dark menace for headphone listening and stoned self-reflection.
We're All Wrong: Nostalgist
Metalcore—the clipped, compressed heavy rock that gave us bands like Bring Me The Horizon and Trivium—has been in somewhat short supply here in Portland. Which is one reason to celebrate a new album by We're All Wrong. The debut full-length from this local trio is out today and it's everything a metalcore fan could hope for: growling vocals, chugging guitar riffs, and enough volume and energy to power a small European nation.
Luther's Boots: Darkened Road Ahead
Country crooner Danny Wilson has been doing amazing work through his Folsom50 program, which finds he and his band Luther's Boots evoking the spirit of Johnny Cash by performing concerts at area prisons. While he waits for the chance to do this work again (COVID-19 has forced a halt to volunteers visiting jails in Oregon), the group has released its latest album—a crisp collection of throwback honky tonk worthy of the Man in Black's legacy.