This week the rains returned, bringing with them cooler temperatures, and a desire to expand our record collections. Get on your raincoats, because there's plenty of shows we still need to get out and see. For starters, the postponed local music fest PDX Pop Now! finally pops off in early October, and we're eagerly anticipating a visit from NYC rap power duo Armand Hammer. Hot off the news of Blazers point guard Damian Lillard being traded to the Milwaukee Bucks, let us take in his excellent feature on a recent Rexx Life Raj track. This is the music deluge, Hear in Portland!
Upcoming local event(s) featuring local artist(s).
Summer in Portland isn't complete until we've danced to music by local artists in a Central Eastside alleyway at PDX Pop Now! However, this year—the fest's 20th year—organizers announced that the forecast for its August dates looked way too hot for fans to safely shake it. PDX Pop Now! postponed its backstreet blast until October 6-8. Now in fall, the survey of excellent local music crops up not only at the Electric Blocks, but North Portland venues Red Fox and Specks Records and Tapes. The bill looks forthcoming, but Portland-based emcee Bocha and indie pop four-piece Sunbathe are already onboard. If you haven't checked on this year's comp yet, you'll also want to give that a listen. Like a good PDX Pop Now! comp should, it starts out Devo and danceable with art punk rockers Buddy Wynkoop—who we hope to see joining the lineup soon.
New release(s) from a Portland-relevant artist.
“Hook Mitchell,” Rexx Life Raj, Dame D.O.L.L.A.
It's been over a month since Dame D.O.L.L.A. released his fifth studio album Don D.O.L.L.A, and should you worry there's no more music on the way from the soon-to-be-former Blazers point guard Damian Lillard, then let your ears rest on these verses and your mind feel peace. Named for Demetrius "Hook" Mitchell, a deeply-talented ball player—and subject of the 2003 documentary Hooked—who fell into drug addiction and crime before his career could take off, the anthem from Berkeley singer and rapper Rexx Life Raj focuses on perseverance in a way that feels less like gloating and much more like a pep talk. Among Dame's verses, "I’m the one who been the one / but they ignored me / poured into myself / instead of poor me," particularly aligns with Raj's catchy, inspirational chorus "I had to walk in my greatness / to step in my greatness." Even if the track didn't glow up, we would have still loved the new visual, which was directed (as so many videos have been lately) by local videographer Riley Brown. It's impossible to not notice the visual's relationship with another video featuring Dame, Tobe Nwigwe's “Mini Me,” which dropped almost exactly a year ago. While Nwigwe directed that video himself, both are built on soft focus shots of Portland rose gardens. “Hook Mitchell” showcases our Rose Test Garden, interspersed with views of the downtown skyline so rosy every building could be Big Pink.
ADDED TO THE QUEUE:
Some upcoming music buzz to put on your radar.
If you saw the hip hop power duo of ELUCID and billy woods at Pickathon in 2022, you're already amped to hear Armand Hammer is touring through the area again, supporting their new album We Buy Diabetic Test Strips, which drops September 29 via Fat Possum Records. Much like the name suggests, Diabetic Test Strips unpacks overlooked societal ills, presenting them inside a cavernous and echoing soundscape—it's like you're hearing ghost stories about the US medical system (appropriate). Every pre-released track we've heard so far is good, but "Trauma Mic" stands out for ELUCID's unforgettable quips like "There's no healing in the light / White Jesus got jokes," and billy woods' phrases about cold fingers that you can feel: "Any one of you bums could be Jesus / Fingers numb, tryna work the light / That white like Mother Theresa / Hype when I first laid eyes on Bathsheba / Bust down, middle part, big laugh, she still called grass 'cheeba' / Missionary 'cause I know God see us." (Polaris Hall, 635 N Killingsworth Ct, Mon Oct 9, 8 pm, $25, tickets here, 21+)
Okay... uh. The Zombies are playing a Music Millennium in-store next week. Yes, '60s-era hit-cranking British rock band the Zombies. Pioneers of baroque pop bangers, like "Time of the Season," "She's Not There," "Going Out of My Head," and "Tell Her No," the Zombies. You've been hearing their songs in movies for most of your life... the Zombies. Those guys. As they're touring in support of their new record Different Game, it's worth mentioning that they're also playing Aladdin Theater on October 3, a venue which will have vastly better amplification than a record store. But IDK I've always found in-store performances kind of exciting. And FREE. ( Music Millennium, 3158 E Burnside, Wed Oct 4, noon, FREE, all ages)