choose your own adventure

Two days later, you walk into the Portland Mercury's office at 605 NE 21st Ave, Suite 200, Portland, Oregon, 97232.

"This whole 'Choose Your Own Adventure' idea is a piss-poor one," you say, storming into their sad excuse for an editorial meeting. "Who's responsible for this?" you demand.

"Me," says Justin Sanders, Food Editor.

"Me," says Erik Henriksen, Film Editor.

"Me," says Chas Bowie, Arts Editor.

"Me," says Marjorie Skinner, Managing Editor.

"Oh," you say. "Alright. Well, you guys suck."

There's a moment of awkward silence before all the editors answer in unison.

"Pretty much, yeah."


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(Dante's, 1 SW 3rd) In the year 2006, can an indie scene-based, hip-looking metal band with Dungeons and Dragon-ish song titles like "Celestial Crown," "Barael's Blade," and "Winter's Wolves" be anything but a big ironic joke? Probably not, but who's counting when the music's this good? The Sword is deathly heavy, but they never overdo it; it's heavy in measured doses, heaviness delivered in short, to-the-point songs with riffs as wicked and mangling as iron battle-axes and lyrics about spider-priests and the howl of the huntsman's hounds. ADAM GNADE See also Music, pg. 19.


(Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison) See Music, pg. 17.


(Rose Garden, One Center Court) Il Divo are a bunch of young guys singing opera and classical standards for... ugh. I can't do this. I'm sorry. I can't. I... this is so fucking terrible I think I'm gonna be sick. Your mom and her coworkers have already got tickets anyway, so what does it matter? AG



(Food Hole, 20 NW 3rd) This show's opener, To Fall Victim, bucks death metal's Cookie Monster vocals paradigm by sounding like Fozzie Bear. Seriously! No shit. Go to and tell me songs like "Blood as Lubrication" don't sound like the most unfunnyest Muppet comedian wocka wocka wockaing his way through a terrible, bomb joke. Which is not to say TFV make bad music, because their stuff is slithering and brutal and sinewy as hell. They may very well be the best grind band EVER from Vancouver, Washington. AG


(Aladdin Theater, 3017 SE Milwaukie) Don't give me that "Popular" shit. Yeah that song got old fast—like faster than Napoleon Dynamite T-shirts—but is music fandom really that fickle and shallow that even now, when Nada Surf's been playing for over a decade, getting good, refining their sound, opening for bands you used to cream yourself over (Death Cab for whom?) that you're still so simple-minded all you can do is sing me those fucking lyrics? Like you're really THAT cool? Nada Surf's touring in support of The Weight is a Gift, and, like 2002's Let Go, it's smart, well-produced indierock. Tight songwriting and strong lyrics. Just simple, good indie-music. Go to this show. Or are you too "Popular?" Too busy "Voting for Pedro?" BART SCHANEMAN See also My, What a Busy Week! pg. 15.


(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) One of the things I like the most about Anya Marina is how fiercely loyal she is to her local music scene. Granted, that scene's not Portland (it's San Diego), but that still gives her tons of cred in my book. When she's not singing and playing in SoCal she hosts a pretty damn good radio show in her hometown that valiantly attempts to support all things local. The girl's hip but she's also subtle, with a breathy, understated, somewhat Jenny Lewis-ish voice. Her songs are simple, southern Californian and filled with melodies and rhythms that evoke sunshine and warm drives—Saturday afternoons spent looking for a spot in a mall parking lot and shopping for shoes. I'd be willing to bet Anya owns a shitload of shoes. She seems like that type of girl. BS



(Aladdin, 3017 SE Milwaukie) Brandi Carlile's rich, warm voice—a voice that lands somewhere between blues and alt-country on the musical spectrum—carries her sweetly melancholy lyrics straight to your soul. The young singer/songwriter from Washington, where she's played small Seattle-area clubs for years, has finally (and very deservedly) broken out nationally, thanks to her authentic tunes: Carlile wanders easily from grounded, rootsy ballads on love and heartache, to upbeat, simple acoustical numbers on happiness. And, she's adorable—you're guaranteed to fall in love with her. AMY JENNIGES


(Berbati's, 10 SW 3rd) Staunchly underground, yet existing on the fringes of the major-label system, Rakaa, Evidence, and DJ Babu of Dilated have been putting down consistently crispy West Coast b-boy propaganda for years—and their triple optics are crystal clear as ever... probably why the outlook and clenched-teeth lyricism on their new album, 20/20, is a trifle meaner now. While LA has Oki Dog and the RTD (R.I.P), their brand of backtalk nonetheless derives from straight-no-chaser NYC boom-bap; it might be one of the purest strains of contemporary hiphop being made these days. LARRY MIZELL JR


(Chinook Winds Casino, 1777 NE 144th, Lincoln City) Well, I'm hot blooded; check it and see. I got a fever of a hundred and three! Come on baby, do you do more than dance? I'm hot blooded! I'm hot blooded! You don't have to read my mind to know what I have in mind. Honey, you oughta know. Now you move so fine. Let me lay it on the line: I wanna know what you're doin' after the show. Now it's up to you; we can make a secret rendezvous. Just me and you, I'll show you lovin' like you never knew. LOU GRAMM, MICK JONES

choose your own adventure

You've never fought a playground bully in your life, let alone a team of killer ninjas, but c'mon—the fate of all modern housecats is on the line! The ninjas, six of them, surround you like a velvety blanket of doom, quivering with the anticipation of your ensuing death. They hunch, silent, waiting for your first move.

Breathless, panicky, you search your pockets for a weapon. Half a pack of gum... no... eight cents... no... a ring that makes you turn invisible... no, no, NO! But wait! What's this? It's Smitty's futuristic gun! Your heart leaping, you yank it free from your pocket. You raise it with two hands, a strange calm overtaking you, and point its otherworldly scope at Ninja No. 1.

"This is going to kick ass," you think.

Unfortunately, before you can squeeze off a single round, Ninja No. 2, with one fluid snap of his wrist, hurls a razor-sharp ninja star directly into your aortic artery. The last thing you see is your own blood spurting in great jets over your unused, shimmering firearm. Guess that didn't kick ass after all....


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(Couch Gallery, 625 NW Everett, #105) Vancouver, BC musician C.R. Avery is, by his own description, an internationally acclaimed slam poet; a one-man band who sings, plays harmonica, AND beat-boxes; and "the author of four hip-hoperas"! It's like if Tom Waits, Sage Francis, and R. Kelly had a child together. Could anything be more beautiful? Intrigued by Avery's enthusiastic bio, I checked his website,, where I found MP3s for songs like "Door By the River" and "Disclosure." Turns out that, at least on recording, Avery doesn't sound like Waits, Francis, OR Kelly. Instead, his music is pretty straightforward, pretty listenable, pretty mellow indierock, and his singing is like Springsteen if the Boss smoked too many cigarettes. I'd say that promised gimmicks aside, it stands on its own as music—and of course, if Avery is doing everything himself in the live setting, including beat-boxing, it'll do more than stand; it'll float. JUSTIN W. SANDERS


(Towne Lounge, 714 SW 20th Pl) See Music, pg. 17.


(Slabtown, 1033 NW 16th) Like fellow West Coasters the Jealous Sound, Ambulance for Angeles write songs that sound just like those emotional moments when you're driving away from a girl's house and you know you're going to break up with her, but you don't know how, or when, you just know that it's going to happen. You know that shit's not working and that it probably never will. It's soft vocals that tremble a little, held up with sparse bass lines and electric guitar picking, with an undercurrent of ebbing drums that keep it moving, keep it rising. It's easy to tell that this is about her, about the one that's getting left, and it hurts to hear, but sometimes songs like these can get you home. BS


(The Know, 2026 NE Alberta) History lesson: An arcane British term for "junk dealer," the rag and bone man was the guy that horse-carted through your neighborhood shouting "raaaaaag boooone!" and took your discarded bones and scrap rags in exchange for other such trivial goods. (The bones went to the glue factories; the rags became fabric and paper.) Although they were phased out by the time motor cars came along, the archetypal image of the haggard, barrow-pushing rag and bone man, the old timey mythos, has made it into songs, movies, comedy acts, you name it. Portland's Rag and Bone Men won't take your greasy chicken bones and threadbare T-shirts, but they do play creaky, shambled folk music that recalls pre-industrial revolution Britain. Their setup—at least the last time I saw them—was accordion, bass drum, washtub bass, banjo, acoustic guitar, and musical saw. At the risk of coming off a little reductive, it's the kind of thing that would jive well on a mixed tape with the Pogues, old Irish jig bands, and Tom Waits. And you can dance to it—or more so, stomp and pogo and smash into everybody you came to the show with. Because, if anything, the band's surly, drunk-waltzing steez is maddening, passionate, and violent. (In the best possible way.) Last time I saw 'em play, the singer said something about how all their songs are about murder and cockroaches. And that, in one hot instant, won me over permanently. AG



(Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside) Matisyahu is a Jewish dude (Lubavitch Hasidic sect) clad in full Hasidic dress who raps about Judaism over dancehall beats. And it's totally sincere. Where a lot of shysters might do the same and in turn use their faith as a great big postmodern joke, Matisyahu really is devout and he really does love hiphop and reggae. The result is he's gotten HUGE, showing up in most major rock magazines and all over TV. This show is sold out. Did you even doubt it would? Hopefully they'll release some last-minute tickets, but we're not promising anything. AG


(Aladdin, 3017 SE Milwaukie) Last time I saw the Mammals in Portland, they put on a barn-raising hootenanny at the White Eagle, replete with dancing, cheering, and handclapping. Since then, they've become determined to transition their infectious bluegrass sound into the realm of indierock. Their new album, Departure, is, as the title might suggest, a relatively weighty affair, with somber original numbers from guitarist Michael Merenda and dark, twangy covers of "Do Not Go Quietly Unto Your Grave" and "Come as You Are," by sad-masters Mark Sandman and Kurt Cobain, respectively. Strains of fiddle, banjo, and other Mammals-esque instrumentations are to be found, but rhythmic, rock 'n' roll guitar and drum lines rule the day; Departure is, above all else, a pop record, and a distinctly melancholy one at that. A good band needs to keep trying new things to stay fresh, and so the Mammals' latest effort is commendable, but in phasing out the foot-tappers and in choosing a sit-down venue like the Aladdin for their next show, I fear their latest dabblings have also neglected the one attribute that drew me to the band in the first place: Fun. Fun-seekers alert: The Mammals are also playing a free in-store today at Music Millenium. JWS



(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) While it would've been more interesting to see this slack king reemerge a besuited torch-song crooner, well, you can take the guy out of the Dayton dive, but... So with his "first" solo outing, From a Compound Eye (Merge), Bob places his mug on the cover, as if to say that after 4,000 Guided by Voices CDs his noggin's still bloated with ideas, defiant still. "When I'm gone, I'll be gone," he sings. But he's not, and neither is the basic GBV sound. Effortless melodies waddle out of clangy guitar fugues with less rhythmic pound than latter-day GBV, but wrapped in that warm 'n' fuzzy cobble-fi. ERIC DAVIDSON



(Hawthorne Theatre, 1507 SE 39th) The Birthday Massacre is a band with a concept. "By combining imagery, sound, fashion, and performance," goes their statement, "we aspire to create an experience for our audience that is both unique and multi-faceted." So, for example, during "Blue," a track from their Violet album, TBM's heavy industrial intro breaks down into electro-melodic pop more appropriate for a Japanese videogame. But soon lead singer Chibi (a woman who resembles a gothic porcelain doll) starts growling like a demon, turning the song into a fucked-up anime nightmare. And they're from Ontario, Canada? They confuse the hell out of me. MEGAN SELING



(Food Hole, 20 NW 3rd) You could call Get Hustle's newish LP, Rollin' in the Ruins, free-jazz or free-rock, only it's not jazz or rock; it's just free. Maxamillion Avila's drums clatter and tap and solo all caustic and passionate and a-rhythmic (and by doing so create actual spaced-out, expansive, long-winding rhythms). Mac Mann's electric piano plunks and—this I've never heard a piano do—whines and sighs like whale song or a singing saw. Vocals are all chants and MC5 shout downs, though Valentine Falcon sings like nothing I've ever heard. It's a loose, freaky, psychedelic dreamscape; dreamlike in that sometimes dreams—their textures and geography—are indescribable with words. Your best bet is to see them live. I won't promise you'll like them, because their music is not... it's not even music to a lot of people. But to those of us that see the light shining out of it, it's the best thing ever. AG See Music, pg. 19.