JEFF ROSENSTOCK, LAURA STEVENSON, WALTER, ETC.
(Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison) Though Jeff Rosenstock’s only 34, he’s already living history. He’s known for writing blistering punk anthems and performing messy, hoarse-voiced concerts, but Rosenstock’s also beloved for sticking to his values throughout his two-decade career. His fiercely independent group Bomb the Music Industry! toured for years playing shows that were strictly all-ages, with tickets costing no more than $10. His digital label Quote Unquote Records pioneered pay-what-you-want music sales long before Radiohead’s In Rainbows and Bandcamp popularized the model. The steadily increasing press for each new record brings with it comparisons to Fugazi guitarist Ian MacKaye, which paint Rosenstock’s moral surefootedness as a curious relic from some bygone age when the talked-about punk bands actually stood for something. But he’d probably be the first person to tell you that today’s best punk bands have plenty to stand for. Last year he released his third solo LP, Worry. Though its 17 songs often deal with darkness, they carry an undeniable optimism. Sure, Rosenstock seems pretty tired of everyone’s shit—feckless slumlords, gentrifying yuppies, long-armed corporate interests invading cultural space, and his own complacency in all of it—but he’s convinced there’s plenty left to fight for. “Perfect always takes so long,” the album’s final lines remind us, “because it doesn’t exist.” That’s the secret to Worry: When you aren’t concerned with being current, you can create something unrelentingly relevant, now and for years to come. NATHAN TUCKER
SOUND + VISION: LENORE., RYAN OXFORD
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) Few words are more enticing than “free,” especially when it’s paired with the lineup of this month’s edition of Sound + Vision, the monthly concert series presented by the Mercury and Banana Stand Media. Joy Pearson and Rebecca Marie Miller are Lenore., the burgeoning duo ascending the rungs of the city’s folk stepladder with melancholic ballads that have vaguely witchy undertones. They’re expected to release their self-titled debut in September. Ryan Oxford is responsible for one of Portland’s best albums of 2017 with Fa Fa Fa Fired, released in January via Mama Bird Recording Co. The record features breezy summertime vibes, thanks to a Brian Wilson-esque focus on arrangements, and the foreboding fizz of reel-to-reel tape that haunts all the right corners to sate your analog urges. RYAN J. PRADO
THE DRUMS, STEF CHURA, SOCCER MOMMY
(Wonder Ballroom, 128 NE Russell) The Drums are one of those American bands with a sound tailor-made for success in England. And given the number of accolades taste-making British music media-outlet NME has bestowed on the Drums, they may actually be better known across the pond than stateside. Their fourth studio album, Abysmal Thoughts—the first where vocalist Jonny Pierce shouldered the entirety of the songwriting duty and played all the instruments—is more infectious Brit-pop for Anglophiles. Pierce’s breathy vocals float over buoyantly minimalist melodies accented by synth. And while the feeling is pure ’80s, the result is more Orange Juice than the Smiths. Nevertheless, the single “Blood Under My Belt” is just about the happiest little indie-pop confection of the season. WILLIAM KENNEDY
FLOR, PLEASURE CURSES, TALK MODERN
(Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison) For Portlanders, probably the most interesting thing about LA-based band Flor is that they’re originally from Hood River, that windy little burg about an hour east on I-84 that isn’t necessarily known for producing bands. (There are currently just 27 releases tagged “Hood River” on Bandcamp.) The next most interesting thing about Flor is that they have a chance to be huge. On their debut album, Come Out. You’re Hiding, the band’s sound—dreamy pop-rock, addictive melodies, big beats, and electronic embellishments—recalls recent success stories like Fun., the 1975, and Years & Years. Its songs are sparkling and irresistibly catchy, and they sound terrific—a credit, no doubt, to band member Dylan Bauld, who produces on the side and has worked with pop star Halsey. Flor stops at Holocene this Thursday before heading east to play Lollapalooza in Chicago, and then a run of gigs opening for mega-huge emo band (and Fueled by Ramen labelmates) Paramore. BEN SALMON
PHIL AJJARAPU & THE PHILESTINES, THE QUAGS, GUITARFACE
(Turn! Turn! Turn!, 8 NE Killingsworth) In 2012, musician Phil Ajjarapu accidentally sent his motorcycle off a highway overpass in Texas and into three lanes of traffic below. It was just the wake-up call he needed to quit dragging his feet and finally record the album he’d longed to make. And following a successful Kickstarter campaign and some help from Posies co-founder Ken Stringfellow, Ajjarapu released Sing Along Until You Feel Better, his glorious collection of ornate, Harry Nilsson-style pop songs. Now a resident of our fair city, he’s been steadily making a name for himself on the local scene, playing gigs alone and with his band of fellow power-pop enthusiasts. In either permutation, his music captures that late ’70s/early ’80s spirit, when jangly guitars met meaty pub-rock rhythm sections. ROBERT HAM
PDX POP NOW!: RASHEED JAMAL, REPTALIENS, ICE PRINCESS, & MORE
(AudioCinema, 226 SE Madison) PDX Pop Now!—Portland's only three-day, all-ages music festival—returns to AudioCinema under the Hawthorne Bridge this weekend. There'll be two outdoor stages, a street fair, a record fair, food carts, a beer garden, and the time-honored tradition of Rigksetball—a 32-band basketball tournament where the hoop's attached to a tour van. With over 40 bands, the lineup’s like a buffet of local music—there’s something for everybody to enjoy, from the abstract sound collages of Amenta Abioto to the dreamy folk of Jessica Dennison + Jones to MAARQUII’s experimental hip-hop. And the best part? It's free! You read that right—you can enjoy some of the best music the city has to offer for zero dollars. Celebrate our local scene and one of the volunteer-run organizations making it great with three days of free, all-ages music at this year's PDX Pop Now! CIARA DOLAN
MIC CAPES, RASHEED JAMAL, GLENN WACO, LUKE TAILOR
(The Fixin’ To, 8218 N Lombard) The Fixin’ To’s monthly hip-hop showcase NorthWord welcomes Portland’s talented hip-hop collective The Resistance, which includes Mic Capes, Rasheed Jamal and Glenn Waco. Waco recently moved back home to Portland after leaving town in 2015 for a short-lived residence in California, so this will be a fun reunion show of sorts. Sacramento’s Luke Tailor will also perform, and DJ Drae Slapz will be spinning throughout the night. JENNI MOORE
NICK DELFFS, HALEY HEYNDERICKX, CLARKE AND THE HIMSELFS
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) Read our review of Nick Delffs’ new album, Redesign.
ON DRUGS, NICK NORMAL, SKELEVISION, RILED, FIRE NUNS, GARDENER
(American Legion Post 134, 2104 NE Alberta) After waiting for what seems like forever, Portland’s premiere psych-y punk band, On Drugs, is finally releasing their debut album, Stay Yuck. They’ve already dropped two singles, “Feel Like Trash” and “Chain Smoke,” and as the latter suggests, they’re highly addictive. On Drugs walks the daunting tightrope between manic and composed, maintaining both energy and elegance throughout their songs. They’ve long been active in Portland music, but still have a great deal of potential. DELANEY MOTTER
PORTUGAL. THE MAN, THE LAST ARTFUL, DODGR
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) Nobody could’ve predicted the musical shape-shifting of Portland’s Portugal. The Man. For those with lingering doubts about the group’s multifaceted pop, they dropped their latest, Woodstock, last month, to dizzying response. With the incendiary single “Feel It Still,” the band ratchets up the contemporary pop dial, folding in danceable bangers and heavily produced, harmonic radio-rock. Vocalist/guitarist John Gourley’s helium vocals sit well with the updated style, and his line “I’m a rebel just for kicks now/Let me kick it like it’s 1986 now” is practically a classic already. The self-proclaimed Lords of Portland are typically on the road for most of the year, playing large venues and huge festivals. This week they’re giving Portland two welcome-home parties: One intimate evening at the Doug Fir, and another at Edgefield. RJP
PDX POP NOW!: MAARQUII & JVNITOR, LEO ISLO, ROBy, & MORE
(AudioCinema, 226 SE Madison) See Friday's preview.
EYELIDS, MOON TIGER
(Bunk Bar, 1028 SE Water) Ah, summer nights! After you’re done soaking in sun and sounds over at PDX Pop Now!, mosey over to Bunk Bar for a seriously refreshing Iceberg (beer + frozen margarita = mmm) and a free show with Eyelids! Purveying a retro-styled version of paisley-tinged garage rock, the Portland supergroup’s latest, the Peter Buck-produced Or, got a four-star review in Mojo. NED LANNAMANN
NANA GRIZOL, YOUR HEART BREAKS, WIZARD APPRENTICE
(Twilight Café and Bar, 1420 SE Powell) Earlier this year, Athens, Georgia-hailing folk-pop and punk outfit Nana Grizol quietly released their long-awaited third album, Ursa Minor, providing listeners with yet another top-notch collection of sharp and sweet earworms. Propelled by frontman Theo Hilton’s heartfelt and political lyrics, Nana Grizol are firmly rooted in their hometown’s Elephant 6 sound. The new album is punctuated by blaring brass horns and dense layers of percussion, so you can expect these songs to explode triumphantly when the band hits the Twilight stage tonight. CHIPP TERWILLIGER
PORTUGAL. THE MAN, THE SHIVAS, CAT HOCH
(Edgefield, 2126 SW Halsey, Troutdale) See Thursday’s preview.
WOLF ALICE, SKELEVISION
(Star Theater, 13 NW 6th) One of the best rock records of 2015 was Wolf Alice’s My Love Is Cool, a nifty collection of sonic zigs and zags that established the London quartet as a band of explorers worth following. On their full-length debut, Wolf Alice bounced all over the place stylistically, sounding like a dreamy folk band one minute, a sleek electro-pop band the next, and a soaring rock band after that. Holding all of this wandering together: the sweetly seething vocals and guitars of founders Ellie Rowsell and Joff Oddie. After some time away, Wolf Alice have a new album coming in the fall called Visions of a Life, and the first two singles sound terrific. “Don’t Delete the Kisses” is a slow-building dream-pop track with an urgent pulse, and “Yuk Foo” is a buzzy noise-punk scrum. BS
PDX POP NOW!: HURRY UP, EAT SKULL, TRIBE MARS, & MORE
AudioCinema, 226 SE Madison) See Friday's Preview.
OFFA REX, COURTNEY MARIE ANDREWS
(Aladdin Theater, 3017 SE Milwaukie) The combination of two musical forces—England's Olivia Chaney and Portland's the Decemberists—Offa Rex conjures up the kind of baroque, haunting British folk that feels decades old... in the best possible way. Balancing Chaney's rich vocals and the Decemberists' twisting arrangements, it's hard to get Offa Rex's music out of your head—and it'll be even trickier after seeing them live. ERIK HENRIKSEN Read our story on Offa Rex.
JEFF ROSENSTOCK, LAURA STEVENSON, WALTER ETC.
(Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison) Read our Jeff Rosenstock super pick.
(Moda Center, 1 N Center Ct) Though his music often appears prominently in commercials, vapid Spotify playlists, and major sports promos, Bruno Mars’ studied approach to songwriting and ambitious attempts to encapsulate the history of soul music in each of his tracks is invigorating. Mars has done himself a favor by surrounding himself with a beautifully hip band-slash-entourage that not only energizes an already spangled performance, but also transforms every venue into the most exclusive party in the world. His mindlessly accessible anthems have enough caramel coolness to separate themselves from the bloated collective radar. Bruno’s Swiss-army-knife abilities are displayed throughout his newest LP, 24K Magic, which sees him equally suited to confetti-blasted dance celebrations and calculated pillow talk grooves. CHRIS SUTTON
BETH DITTO, US GIRLS
(Hawthorne Theatre, 1507 SE César E. Chávez) Beth Ditto’s time spent fronting the Olympia- and Portland-based dance-punk trio Gossip established her as a force in the world of indie rock. Not only was Ditto one hell of a vocalist, she loudly championed queer, feminist, and body positive values on the national scale. Her solo debut, Fake Sugar, finds the singer/songwriter reconnecting with her childhood roots in Arkansas. Combining southern rock and pop music with her sweet and soulful voice, the album reveals yet another layer of Ditto’s impressive range. CHIPP TERWILLIGER
JULIE BYRNE, JOHANNA WARREN
(The Old Church, 1422 SW 11th) Julie Byrne’s 2014 debut, Rooms with Walls and Windows, turned many heads. While its collection of sparse folk songs and brief soundscapes didn’t feel fully actualized, it was easy to envision the future they suggested. Byrne’s new album, Not Even Happiness, makes good on those whispered promises. Though not an unexpected leap from her last effort, the album is largely a document of Byrne growing and coming into her own as a songwriter. But the highlight is the album’s closer, “I Live Now as a Singer,” the one radical style departure. The minimalist masterpiece showcases her vocal prowess over synth-pad swells and sparse strings. Its restraint has a similar impact as Angel Olsen’s “Intern” from last year’s My Woman, or moments from Colleen’s The Weighing of the Heart or Tara Jane O’Neil’s A Ways Away. It exists as a singular, staggering moment on the album—another promise, perhaps, of what’s to come. JOSHUA JAMES AMBERSON
BLONDE REDHEAD, PORCELAIN RAFT
(Wonder Ballroom, 128 NE Russell) Many influential indie rock bands from the 1990s have already faded into the background, save for the few megastars like Radiohead or Beck. Few still make new music that stands up to their original material in a significant way. Which is why New York noise rock trio Blonde Redhead is so freaking cool. Each new album is different from the last, and not in some weird “what are the kids into these days” kind of way. Blonde Redheads’ 2014 LP Barragán finds Kazu Makino singing over weird dial-up era keyboard tones that sound like the wind imagined by a text-based RPG. It’s a deviation from the sometimes-defining wall of noise the shoegaze group produced in the ’90s. Makino’s vocals are at the forefront, but still totally bizarre on songs like “Cat on Tin Roof” or the latest single, “3 O’Clock.” Indie rock typically throws bands to the wayside once the musicians have aged out, but bands like Blonde Redhead will keep you optimistic. CAMERON CROWELL