Portland, you're on a roll and there ain't no sign of stopping. Though we may have entered a new year and a new decade, time as measured in the way it matters remains unbroken, which is to say that this Golden Age of Portland Music continues. To illustrate my claim, get a load of the scores of anticipation-worthy local albums we have to look forward to in 2010. There are some exciting, big-name releases on the way—the Thermals (Already? Wow!), Spoon (Right on time!), Quasi (Unstoppable!), Nice Nice (Finally!), Menomena (HHHOOOLLLLYYY CCCRRRAAAPPPP!)—and more than a few from acts that are not as well known. Yet. Prepare.
Laura Gibson & Ethan Rose
Bridge Carols (Holocene Music)
Due: February 9, 2010
Forget the US men's basketball 1992 Olympic squad, this right here's the Dream Team. Folk luminary Laura Gibson's voice is so soothing it might as well be a warm blanket, and sound artist Ethan Rose's instrument of choice is the music box, for pete's sake, so it should come as no surprise that the pairing of these two locals on their debut collaborative album generates a world of sound more restful, tranquil, and restorative than sleep itself. Bridge Carols, an auditory beacon from the sun, is the antidote to February.
True Theory (Architect Entertainment)
Due: late summer 2010
It's been a few years since Portland saw the appearance of a major new talent on the local hiphop stage and, frankly, I'm not sure we've ever been graced by an emcee with greater natural gifts than Luck-One. As if making up for the time lost to a stint in prison that ended in 2007, Hanif "Luck-One" Ta-Nehisi is quickly following up on his solid 2008 Beautiful Music EP with a full-length that features contributions from the likes of Braille, Illmaculate, and Tony Ozier. If this record captures the easy charisma and utterly frictionless flow that Luck-One oozes in concert, 2010 could be a big year not only for him but also for Portland's national hiphop hopes.
"Ramp"/"Pulse" (Self-Released Vinyl/Root Strata Digital Download)
Due: February 26, 2010
Before scrapping his old gear and descending into the basement for a season to design a new synth with which to bring his new minimal techno project Operative into existence, Scott Goodwin released an album under his own name that consisted of two long-form, almost imperceptibly changing microtonal audioscapes hewn from pure sine waves. Operative is like that, but rendered as house music. Staking a flag at the opposite end of the electronic music spectrum from the dominant culture of instant-gratification, '80s-themed dance-pop, the anxiety-inducing rising doppler howl of "Ramp" may as well be the sound of Operative's 2010 ascendance.
Title TBD (Label TBD)
Due: late spring
There is no Portland band with a greater disparity between the limitless ardor of its legion of hometown fans and its relative anonymity beyond city limits than Strength. However, with generations of music fans discovering and rediscovering Michael Jackson's back catalog last year and the unabated nationwide youth hunger for electro-pop, the stage is set for Strength to come on, well, very strong with their sophomore release in 2010.
Kairos (Dead Oceans)
Due: March 9, 2010
The title of White Hinterland's stellar 2008 francophone EP Luniculaire was a portmanteau of the words "funicular" (a "railway") and "lunar," conjuring quaintly outdated Victorian images of a proto-futurist skyway to outer space. Well, new album Kairos—with its skittering slow-jam beats, burbling guitar, spare bass and, of course, Casey Dienel's siren voice—is so far ahead it sounds as if it were insta-beamed to us via data-laser from the actual future, one previously guessed at only by experimental R&B visionaries like Björk, Sade, and Dave Longstreth.
Also highly anticipated: A Weather, Adrian Orange, Ape Cave (formerly Church), Atole, Blue Cranes, Boy Eats Drum Machine, Cars and Trains, Cool Nutz, Copy, Dat'r, Dykeritz, Eluvium, the Estranged, Ghost to Falco, Golden Retriever, Guidance Counselor, Horse Feathers, JonnyX and the Groadies, Key Losers, Mimicking Birds, Mint Chicks, Nick Jaina, Norfolk & Western, Ocean Age, Ohioan, the Old Believers, Orca Team, Pierced Arrows, Privacy, Pyramiddd, the Red River, Rob Walmart, Scout Niblett, Fawning, Typhoon, the Whines, Witch Mountain, Y La Bamba.