CATE LE BON Wed 1/18 Mississippi Studios Ivana Kličković

SUPER PICK

CATE LE BON, TIM PRESLEY
(Missisippi Studios, 3939 N Mississipi) Last year Welsh musician Cate Le Bon released her fourth full-length, Crab Day. The asymmetrical guitar pop record is named after an imagined holiday created by Le Bon’s niece, who was incredulous about the purpose of April Fool’s Day and instead decided to spend April 1 celebrating 10-legged crustaceans. Crab Day follows suit: Le Bon toys with the surprising malleability of our reality, bending and twisting its foundations like they’re neon pipe cleaners. She takes the leashes off her sharp guitar riffs and lets them run wild through tall grasses while she searches for shapes in passing clouds and tries to make sense of life’s oddities, like the discovery that for years she’d observed her birthday on the wrong day. Le Bon’s music speaks in the language of absurdity, but reveals itself to be as logical and thoughtfully calculating as nature. This month she’s releasing an EP called Rock Pool, four of her “killed darlings” from Crab Day that exist in the same surreal universe. Despite her fluency in nonsense, here even Le Bon seems overwhelmed by the world’s current state of chaos. On opener “Aside from Growing Old” she sings, “I don’t mind cleaning up the mug museum,” referencing her 2013 album Mug Museum (a name inspired by the flock of used mugs collecting in her bedroom, measures of passing time). But in the song’s chorus Le Bon feverishly searches for order, asking “What’s the hubbub? I’m losing my mind”—a relatable sentiment as we move into an age that seems unnervingly, tragically absurd. CIARA DOLAN

WEDNESDAY 1/18

DRUNKEN PALMS, SOMBER, HEX VISION
(Anarres Infoshop, 7101 N Lombard) Listening to Drunken Palms’ new release, the modestly titled Demos ii, feels like stumbling upon a timeless piece of indie rock. Members of the Portland three-piece have patiently honed their skills over the course of three humble releases, and it’s paying off. The eerie pacing of Demos ii adds an element of urgency to singer Katelyn Mundal’s evocative vocals without ever feeling strained, particularly on its simple but relentless bass-centric tracks. Each song is delicate but seems as though it’s trying to break out of itself, or to achieve the emotional epicness of bands like Arcade Fire and the Antlers. Though they don’t quite meet this level of grandeur, Drunken Palms’ sweet trepidation makes their music accessible and digestible but still eerie and impassioned. EMMA BURKE

JEFFREY FOUCAULT, JEFFREY MARTIN
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) Double your Jeffrey, double your folk tonight at the venerable Doug Fir Lounge. Opening is Jeffrey Martin, local troubadour extraordinaire who’s one of the best anywhere at turning an acoustic guitar and a sad story into a disarmingly gorgeous song. Track down 2014’s Dogs in the Daylight if you’d like to hear one of the very best albums to come out of Portland in recent years. Headlining is Jeffrey Foucault, a roots-music powerhouse originally from Wisconsin but now based out of New England. For years, Foucault has been cranking out well-crafted albums of dusky folk, desolate blues, and twangy rock ’n’ roll, anchored by his old-growth voice and gift for lyrics that explore the human condition in a highly relatable way. Fans of eloquent, affecting songs performed artfully: Bundle up and make the trip to the Doug Fir tonight. You’ll be glad you did, I bet. BEN SALMON

THURSDAY 1/19

SAGE THE GEMINI, SOB X RBE, DEREK POPE
(Hawthorne Theatre, 1507 SE 39th) I first heard Sage the Gemini’s song “Gas Pedal” at a high school dance in 2012, and again three years later at a beginner’s hip-hop dance class on my college campus. In both scenarios, Sage the Gemini’s hyphy Top 40 hit was the perfect soundtrack for desperately trying to transcend social discomfort through dropping it low. Context is key for the 24-year-old California rapper/producer, who may not be on the cutting edge of club hits, but knows how to make earworms worthy of ass shaking. This was proven by his performance of “Gas Pedal” on Late Show with David Letterman in 2014; in a later interview, Sage offered this droll explanation for the Letterman audience’s tepid reaction: “When you look out to the crowd, no offense, but it was just a whole bunch of white people.” EB

COOL SCHMOOL, HAVANIA WHAAL, CREATURE TO CREATURE, DEADBEAT CLUB
(Valentines, 232 SW Ankeny) It’d be difficult to find an active Portland punk band with harmonies as interesting as those of Cool Schmool, with a band name that reflects the classic song from Olympia’s Bratmobile. Last year the three-piece released Catchy Not Sketchy, an EP that makes good on its title’s promise; each song is a rough pop nugget mixing shimmering garage rock guitars and loud punk bass lines. On “Blahhh” lead vocalist/guitarist Kaitie L. Hereford sings “Talk is cheap and you talk a lot,” a line that sounds inspired by Addie Bundren’s chapter of As I Lay Dying, where her compassionless husband Anse embodies the emptiness of language. Joining Cool Schmool are the veteran Portland post-punks of Havania Whaal, local queercore five-piece Creature to Creature, and the touring Northhampton, Massachusetts no-wave group Deadbeat Club. CAMERON CROWELL

FRIDAY 1/20

COURTNEY MARIE ANDREWS, RYAN OXFORD, NICK DELFFS
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) Last year Courtney Marie Andrews released Honest Life, an album best summed up by a line in its standout track, “How Quickly Your Heart Mends”: “The jukebox is playing a sad country song/For all the ugly Americans.” These lyrics serve as a mission statement for the Pacific Northwest songwriter, who paints American life in black ’n’ white, like Peter Bogdanovich’s classic film The Last Picture Show. And like Bogdanovich, Andrews explores the intersections of nostalgia and regret with a clear-eyed assessment of America’s so-called glory days. Whether you’re a fan of ’70s folk-rock or plain old country music, Andrews possesses the kind of diamond-in-the-rough voice that perfectly captures the struggle behind the American dream. She’s joined by Mama Bird Recording Company labelmate Ryan Oxford, who’s celebrating the release of his new Brian Wilson via the Shins-inspired record, Fa Fa Fa Fired. WILLIAM KENNEDY

KORY QUINN AND THE QUINNTESSENTIALS, LEWI LONGMIRE AND THE LEFT COAST ROASTERS
(The Spare Room, 4830 NE 42nd) Portland’s own rabble-rousing troubadour Kory Quinn is one of the hardest-working musicians in the folksinging business. He’s played incalculable shows in Oregon, books his own US and international tours, and has put out so many albums and EPs that even he has lost count. His songs have the kind of anthemic quality that, like Woody Guthrie’s, are neither defined nor constrained by passing fads. Though many folk and Americana singers of recent vintage sing songs about train-ridin’, whiskey-drinkin’, or good ol’ American insubordination, Quinn has committed himself fully toward this life, and tonight he celebrates the release of his new EP, Black Gold Blues. For his backing band, the Quintessentials, Quinn has assembled a veritable wrecking crew, with David Lipkind on harmonica, Taylor Kingman on guitar, Matt Cadenelli and Ben Nugent on drums, Jason Montgomery on lap- and pedal-steel, and Lewi Longmire on bass. With songs addressing wage inequality, the exploitation of the poor, police brutality, and, in the title track, our nation’s dependence of fossil fuel, Black Gold Blues is Quinn’s most front-to-back political statement yet, and it comes not a moment too soon. SANTI ELIJAH HOLLEY

HAMILTON LEITHAUSER
(Star Theater, 13 NW 6th) Hamilton Leithauser’s new LP, I Had a Dream You Were Mine, is a study in how one songwriter from an already established outfit can not only flourish within his own alternate reality, but also produce music that is possibly more daring and artistic. As frontman for indie rock darlings the Walkmen, Hamilton canted confident odes over a foundation of propulsive guitars that produced arena-worthy sing-alongs and garage-pop overtures, a musical machine firing on all cylinders. When left to his own devices, an ambitiously tasteful collaboration with Vampire Weekend’s multi-instrumentalist Rostam Batmanglij emerges in which Leithauser’s soulful rasp is given ample space to stretch and soothe over beautifully sparse instrumentation. This allows his gifted storytelling to be all the more sentimental, resulting in pastiches that conjure images of a stylishly melancholic Rod Stewart waiting out an icy rainstorm in a dark Parisian bar. CHRIS SUTTON

SATURDAY 1/21

HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE: OREGON SYMPHONY
(Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 SW Broadway) In Hollywood, hell hath no fury like a fan of the books scorned. When it’s a series of children’s novels as beloved as J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter, priority one is simply not to piss anyone off—a goal that’s apparent during the film adaptation’s enjoyable but fairly bland first installment, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. It’s unsurprising that for the score, the producers chose multiple Oscar winner and professional “safe bet” John Williams, a guy whose work (Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Jaws) is unfamiliar only to the deaf. And honestly, he nailed it. The eerie “Hedwig’s Theme” alone is a memorable gem: The first few bars always shattered my jaded teenage shell, and I’d wager that for people of a certain age it’s as recognizable a melody as anything else in orchestral music. If you’re feeling the need to indulge your inner super fan, tonight the Oregon Symphony will perform Williams’ score in sync with the movie as it plays on an enormous screen. NATHAN TUCKER

SUNDAY 1/22

HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE: OREGON SYMPHONY
(Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 SW Broadway) See Saturday’s preview.

HIGH ON FIRE
(Hawthorne Theatre, 1507 SE 39th) Unpopular opinion time: I’m kind of over Sleep. The band, not the rapper... or the time of rest in between daytimes. Don’t get me wrong, Sleep was—and is—a great band that put out some unimpeachable stoner/doom classics. And yes, they released a new single a few years ago, and yes, it was good. But live, the band has been bludgeoning its legion of fans with essentially the same material for years, and I’ve seen it. I don’t need to see it again. Sleep guitarist (and six-string god) Matt Pike’s other band High on Fire, however? Whole different ballgame. On their most recent album Luminiferous, Pike, drummer Des Kensel, and bassist Jeff Matz are devastating riff monsters, delivering a uniquely powerful brand of sludge-thrash that runs circles around just about every other likeminded band on the planet. But Luminiferous also finds the trio flexing its psychedelic muscle and adding more melody into the mix, particularly in Pike’s vocals. The results are glorious, and they prove that High on Fire is not just a great band—they’re a great band pushing themselves to be better. BS

MONDAY 1/23

LUCINDA WILLIAMS
(Aladdin Theater, 3017 SE Milwaukie) There are very few American singer/songwriters who’ve been able to transcend the purgatory of genre and cross over into “national treasure” territory. While debating nominees, one should consider Lucinda Williams, who has written a ubiquitous Grammy jam (Mary Chapin Carpenter’s “Passionate Kisses”), a universally acclaimed Americana masterpiece (Car Wheels on a Gravel Road), and produced a fruitful catalog that includes collaborations with legends like Ramblin’ Jack Elliott and Elvis Costello. Like a twangier Chrissie Hynde wearing well-worn cowboy boots, lost in the Laurel Canyon wilderness, Williams expertly glides between steely grit and tender grandeur, shedding tough layers to expose vulnerable heartstrings and then wrapping them back up with swathes of faded denim. She’s famously slow at releasing new material, which has only made each record more feverishly anticipated by her cultishly devoted following. But they’re continuously rewarded for their patience with Williams’ emotionally dense heartland fables. CS

AFI, CHAIN GANG OF 1974, SOUVENIRS
(Roseland, 8 NW 6th) If there were ever a band made for Guitar Hero™, it’s mid-’00s post-hardcore/emo powerhouse AFI (which stands for A Fire Inside, for those who don’t make stops at Hot Topic and Spencer’s on mall excursions). Take their 2006 mega-hit “Miss Murder,” a song that begins boldly, diving straight into its unremarkable pop-punk chorus before Davey Havok goes full screamo at the metalcore look-at-my-guitar-chops bridge. (I’m not going to comment on the track’s “alternate” long version that begins with some boring Nightmare Before Christmas melody rip-off.) Now, some will point out that AFI was active in the reputable ’90s East Bay hardcore scene, but the band’s pop-screamo sounds like a semi-content, semi-spiteful marriage between the Offspring and System of a Down. CC

TUESDAY 1/24

JOHN K. SAMSON AND THE WINTER WHEAT
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) Read our story on John K. Samson and the Winter Wheat.

Love Mercury Music Coverage?

LUCINDA WILLIAMS
(Aladdin Theater, 3017 SE Milwaukie) See Monday’s preview.

DEVENDRA BANHART
(Wonder Ballroom, 128 NE Russell) Those who aren’t familiar with Devendra Banhart’s name will surely recognize him as the suspenders-over-a-Swans-T-shirt-wearing poster child of the “hipster” age. Banhart’s 15 years of freakish folk-pop surpass this perceived identity as the aesthetic mascot of hipsterdom, though the aforementioned look probably launched a thousand memes. Sure, he’s not reinventing the wheel with his 2016 release Ape in Pink Marble; the record continues to steer away from the airy love songs his discography’s foundation was built upon. If anything, it offers more aggressive, darker pop than its predecessor, 2013’s lovelorn Mala. And while Banhart’s last few albums have been met with incredibly mixed reviews, diehard fans will still swoon over his loving croon and revel in the fact that he’s still making music. CERVANTE POPE

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SLAY Film Fest
In person at the Clinton St. Theater 10/29 & 10/30