CAT POWER, THE GOAT (Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside) Sun marks the first album of non-covers in six years from Chan Marshall, who as Cat Power has made a name for herself—not only for her own dark and breathy songs, but her make-them-her-own interpretations of others. She's the singer responsible for the overused descriptor "hauntingly beautiful." The mythology of Cat Power is bigger than her body of work, but as Marshall enters her 40s she seems to be more self-aware than ever. Less brooding, too—Sun might be the least melancholy album of her career. Marshall still gives you plenty to think about, but it's less a peek into her journal than it is reading the morning news together. We'll call it cautiously beautiful. MARK LORE Also see My, What a Busy Week!
THE WALKING WILLOWS (The Old Church, 1422 SW 11th) Stephen Cohen's old group, the Eugene-based psychedelic folk band the Tree People, didn't garner a ton of attention during their initial stint, but they were posthumously discovered by record collectors worldwide and eventually had their 1979 and 1984 albums reissued. Now Cohen's new band, the Walking Willows, have a record that should similarly delight record collectors and fans of off-the-beaten-path folk. By Hand is a sparse, playful collection of songs performed by Cohen and double bassist Rich Hinrichsen, and they're performed with clarity, precision, and vibrant humor, as on "1 Hit Song" and "Mathematics." There's also some good old-fashioned, rain-sodden Oregon weirdness, and the result is a unique, entrancing folk record that doesn't sound like anything you've heard before. NED LANNAMANN
THE SEA AND CAKE, MATTHEW FRIEDBERGER (Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) You really can't talk about the Sea and Cake without mentioning their consistency—even what some might consider an "off" album is still pretty good. It's thinking-man's pop that has been accused of occasionally being too stuffy, other times a little eccentric. Whatever your particular take, over the past two decades the Sea and Cake have simply done their thing, releasing a body of work that weathers trends and flavors of the month. That might sound boring, but it also explains their longevity. And to those who have followed the band from the beginning, the Sea and Cake's durability trumps all. ML