Sister Psychic: Better than every Portland band ever
  • Sister Psychic: Better than every Portland band ever

In the wake of this weekend's big footy match, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer's Chris Grygiel clumsily throws down the gauntlet and boldly declares that Seattle music rules and Portland music drools. Of course, these "my dad is bigger than your dad" arguments are totally useless, but since we are inferior in every way to our neighbors to the north, let's see what this cool fellow has to say about our subpar music scene.

Now I’ll start out by acknowledging that Portland, as home of The Kingsmen of “Louie Louie” fame, is no slouch. But let’s begin with when the world at large began noticing Northwest music en masse, back in the early 1990s, otherwise known as the “grunge” era. Seattle spawned Soundgarden, Nirvana, Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam and Mudhoney. Portland produced Everclear (last seen playing Seattle’s Rock ‘N’ Roll marathon).

Ha, you got us. Up until the '90s Portland only had two bands: The Kingsmen and Everclear (ex-Kingsmen).

Many purists disliked the mass appeal of the megabands, so let’s dig a little deeper. The excellent singer-songwriter, the late Elliott Smith, hailed from Portland. Score one for the Rose City side. Myself, I was always partial to Smith’s earlier band, the criminally overlooked, punk/metal foursome Heatmiser - another great group from down south.

Clearly you are a purist, because as we all know Heatmiser was totally metal. Since this article was written in 1993 (right?), you should just arbitrarily list a bunch of Seattle bands from 20 years ago. That'll prove your point.

At about the same time Seattle was awash in outstanding regional alternative rock acts like 7 Year Bitch, the Gits, Hammerbox, Alcohol Funnycar, Sister Psychic, Love Battery, The Fall-Outs and a host of others. We were home to great pop rock acts that were here B.G. and A.G. (before “grunge” and after “grunge) — the Fastbacks, Young Fresh Fellows and the Squirrels.

And Cat Butt. Why does everyone forget Cat Butt?

Moving into the latter part of the 1990s the hits kept coming from the Puget Sound, from groups like Modest Mouse (and yes, I know Isaac Brock later moved to Portland, but he didn’t go there when he and his mates were still young and hungry), Presidents of the United States of America, Death Cab for Cutie, Harvey Danger, Goodness, Juno and art rock darlings Carissa’s Wierd. Moving into the first part of the 21st Century, we’ve got Visqueen, Unnatural Helpers (who can pound out more punk energy in two minutes than others can in 20) and prog-performance-theater rockers “Awesome.”

You would have mentioned Portland bands here, but since there are only three (Kingsmen, Everclear, and the headbangers in Heatmiser), I see your point. You win. Take a victory lap around the Space Needle, buddy!

If there’s been a signature Northwest genre during the last few years, it just may be alterna-country. Portland takes a big hit in this department because their home to the cloying Decemberists, who produce a treacly, pedantic soundtrack for frustrated 19th century, lovelorn ship captain wannabees. (Colin Meloy’s Missoula, Mont., college band Tarkio was better — more rock, less pretense). For country noir with a literary bent, I much prefer Portland’s Richmond Fontaine. Dolorean is also pretty good.

Woah, three more Portland bands. We have six! Suck it, Alcohol Funnycar. Also, no one on earth prefers Tarkio to the Decemberists. That's like saying, "Yeah, Pearl Jam is okay, but I prefer Bad Radio."

Whatever you do next, don't wait until the final paragraph to make a statement that waters down your already poor argument:

Now admittedly my local music knowledge isn’t as up to date as it should be.


I’m told current Portland bands like Purple & Green and Loch Lamond ain’t bad.

Were you also told that "Loch Lamond" is spelled Loch Lomond?

But I’m sure we’ve still got four great local offerings for every one decent one out of Portland. Take that Timbers Army.

Check and mate.