Is release season here already?! This week, there are at least two must-listen new releases from Portland-relevant artists, including a single from singer-songwriter and DJ Zyah Belle and a joint EP from rappers Fountaine and Silv. Also get into an upcoming show featuring Portland band Night Heron, and looking farther ahead to summer, get excited about back-to-back shows from Khruangbin at the Edgefield. 


Upcoming local event(s) featuring local artist(s).

Night Heron

In this column, we’re historically fans of Portland band Night Heron’s soft warm tones and laid back grooves, like the psychedelic, R&B-informed synth pop on their 2021 full-length Instructions for the Night; the album provides an excellent late night playlist, or the right sounds for studying, reading, or driving. Hell, at times it’s soothing enough to fall asleep to. Next week the band will headline a show at Lollipop Shoppe, the former home of Dig A Pony that’s been maintaining the venue's spirit of offering a consistent, hyper-local music calendar. It’ll be worth leaving your house a little early to catch Seattle rock band Smokey Brights and Portland-based musician/television sound mixer Nate Wey, with his band the Soft Colors as they round out the bill. (Lollipop Shoppe, 736 SE Grand, Thurs March 7, $14, tickets here, 21+)


New release(s) from a Portland-relevant artist. 

“You Got It,” Zyah Belle, Rexx Life Raj

We recently celebrated the fact that Portland-based soul artist Zyah Belle has taken on DJing, garnering a residency at Dirty Pretty on Thursday nights at a time when Portland is in desperate need of more Thursday action, especially in light of the hip-hop showcase The Thesis’ recent pause as the series looks for a new, more hospitable venue. So of course we were overjoyed to hear soul singer-songwriter Zyah Belle’s new single “You Got It,” marking her first release since her 2022 full-length Yam Grier. With sentimental, mid-tempo production by Madness, Aaron Day, and Jake Victor, the single centers on a empowerment and self confidence thorough lyrics like: “I think you should look inside and see the light you’re hiding/ The things that you try to find and then they shine like diamonds/ just take a moment and see what we see right inside you." Perhaps the sweetest part of the single is the song’s slowed and stripped down final minute, when Belle sweetly, and reassuringly sings some ecstatic “ooohs,” followed by the final lyrics: “Even when it don’t feel like it / Even when it don’t look like it (you do).” Phrases like "doing the work" to "heal" and "practice empathetic self talk" can feel overdone, but such a practice is still real and difficult; “You Got It” is boldly affirming, loaded with positive mantras, and beautifully packed into a euphonic and catchy package that is repeatable as hell. Show up for Belle on the last day of Black History Month, AKA leap day, for the artist's “Interlude” DJ set , and cross your fingers to hear some iteration of this song. (Dirty Pretty, 638 E Burnside, Thursdays, 9 pm, FREE with RSVP, 21+)

Bare Knuckles, Fountaine and Silv

This week, Portland-raised rapper and producer Fountaine, who relocated to Los Angeles a couple months ago, dropped a new exclusive to Bandcamp joint EP called Bare Knuckles with rapper and Heavy Gold labelmate Silv. A short note on the EP’s Bandcamp page says the collaborative project is “inspired by ’70s Black exploitation nostalgia” and pieced together by “shaky hip-hop instrumentals and witty punchlines.” Across its five strong, varied tracks, producers associated with Portland abound: Weezbeats, C-Los, Mike Mo Beats. We especially loved the EP's exceedingly West Coast boozed-up banger of an opening track “V.S.O.P.” which is set to a beat by C-Los. You'll also want to note an additional feature from emcee Soop Dread on “Limitless.” Fountaine produces himself on the title track—which features a bevy of delightfully vivid slaps, punches, kicks, and general ass-whooping sounds— and on the entirely instrumental closing track “Bellagio.” 


Some upcoming music buzz to add to your radar.


Ever since multi-lingual band Khruangbin played Pickathon back in 2019, I’ve counted myself as one of their die-hard fans, desperate for the trio to return to the Portland area as much as possible. Khruangbin fans can rejoice in the fact the band is playing back-to-back shows at Edgefield this August. On any given day, listening to the pleasant, instrumental grooves of the Texas three-piece—bassist Laura Lee, guitarist Mark Speer, and drummer DJ Johnson—can feel like being speedily transported through the epic rock of the ’60s and ’70s or a psychedelic time lapse of travel across the globe: through various countries, landscapes, and terrains ranging from the desert to the countryside to the beach. It’s hard to pick a favorite between their first two instrumental albums, 2015’s The Universe Smiles Upon You and 2018’s Con Todo El Mundo; efforts like 2020’s Mordechai and collab EP Texas Sun with Leon Bridges, are more verbose, but still highly enjoyable relaxation records. Preceded by singles “May Ninth” and “A Love International,” the trio’s forthcoming album A LA SALA, drops on April 5, and we can’t wait for even more vibey material from this acclaimed and eclectic band. (Edgefield, 2126 SW Halsey, Sun Aug 18 & Mon Aug 19, $65-$79.50, tickets here, all ages)