SZA, SMINO, RAVYN LENAE
(Roseland, 8 NW 6th) It’s no secret that 2017 has been a huge year for Solána Imani Rowe, better known as SZA. After dropping a couple of successful mixtapes (2012’s See.SZA.Run and 2013’s S), SZA released her EP Z in 2014, then threatened to quit the music industry altogether. Lucky for us, she didn’t, and instead released her debut LP, Ctrl, earlier this year after feeling liberated by a mushroom trip. Ctrl was quickly embraced by fans and music critics (including yours truly), and debuted at number three on the Billboard 200. Every song is exceptional: SZA pours her honeyed vocals over catchy melodies with brazen, gritty, and sometimes triggering lyrics that dig into toxic relationships, anxiety, and the unattainability of control. It’s been called the feminine counterpoint to projects like Bryson Tiller’s Trapsoul and Drake’s Take Care, as SZA offers a different perspective for a similar narrative—one that’s simultaneously vulnerable, confident, and defiant. She confesses her insecurities on “Supermodel” and “Normal Girl,” confidently rips apart the stigma of being a sidechick on sultry track “The Weekend,” and processes feeling like the “other” on “Drew Barrymore.” Songs from Ctrl have appeared on several recent episodes of Issa Rae’s HBO series Insecure, and last week SZA released “Quicksand” especially for the show’s soundtrack. I expect her sold-out Portland concert to be a religious experience. JENNI MOORE
SHANNON AND THE CLAMS, THE SHIVAS
(White Owl Social Club, 1305 SE 8th) The 1950s seem like they sucked, but Shannon and the Clams salvage all the good stuff from that strange decade with their modern doo-wop revival. Well, at least the good stuff from the movies. Shiny cars! Milkshakes! Knife fights! The Oakland, California, band plays music that’s fit for high school gyms and greasy-faced backseat makeouts. There’s something sinister about Shannon and the Clams’ bubblegum-pop, like it’s laced with shards of glass, but that’s probably what catapults them beyond the swamp of nostalgia that drowns less talented retro bands. CIARA DOLAN
STIFF LITTLE FINGERS, DEATH BY UNGA BUNGA, LOVESORES
(Hawthorne Theatre, 1507 SE César E. Chávez) If ever there was a place on this gobshite planet to incubate good punk rock, that place is Belfast. (Nice try, New Jersey.) And sure enough, the Northern Ireland capital has gifted us with one of the greatest punk bands of all time, Stiff Little Fingers. Rather than wallow in the provocative-for-provocation’s-sake nihilism of their English counterparts, Stiff Little Fingers drew from first-hand experience of their hometown’s Troubles, imbuing their frustration with their island’s inherent, elegiac tunefulness. The albums and singles from the Fingers’ first five years are some of the best, most humane punk records ever recorded. And the Fingers are still soldiering on, with original singer/guitarist Jake Burns and classic-era bassist Ali McMordie joined by guitarist Ian McCallum and drummer Steve Grantley, both of whom have been playing with the band since the ’90s. Like their peers, Stiff Little Fingers give a two-fingered salute to the hypocrisy of the world, but unlike others, their music locates hope amid the rage. NED LANNAMANN
A TRIBE CALLED RED
(Wonder Ballroom, 128 NE Russell) A Tribe Called Red is a DJ crew from Ottawa, Canada, that blends traditional First Nations music, hip-hop, and EDM in a style they call “powwow-step.” NDN, Bear Witness, and 200lman started hosting Electric Pow Wow dance parties for their local indigenous community in 2008. These were wildly successful, and their popularity inspired the trio to record their mixes. Since then, they’ve released three albums: 2012’s A Tribe Called Red, 2013’s Nation II Nation, and 2016’s We Are the Halluci Nation, which features Yasiin Bey (FKA Mos Def) on “R.E.D” and monologues from author Joseph Boyden, who writes about colonialism and the systemic inequalities indigenous people in North America still face. What makes big hits like “Sisters” and “Electric Pow Wow Drum” so infectious are the complex, interweaving rhythms of pulsing dubstep beats and looped samples of Native groups like Northern Voice and the Black Lodge Singers. By allowing past and present to coexist, ATCR celebrates the vibrancy and resilience of modern First Nations cultures. CIARA DOLAN
BULLY, BLACK BELT EAGLE SCOUT, SURFER ROSIE
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) The music of Nashville's Bully hearkens back to '90s grunge and the fuzzy pop of Veruca Salt, but there's much more going on here. Lead vocalist Alicia Bognanno's plaintive rasp brings an effervescent bounce to her brutally honest songs about the type of memories most people would just sooner avoid. Bully makes it very palatable. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY
HANK WILLIAMS JR.
(Moda Center, 1 N Center Ct) Portland seems like a rather ill-advised tour stop for Hank Williams Jr. Country music’s most outspoken arch-conservative, gun rights advocate, and proud bigot, Williams has long represented America’s holy trinity of God, country, and football. But if the 2016 presidential election and current political climate have taught us one thing, it’s not to ignore the increasingly embittered white men and women living all around us. Like those who voted for Trump, Williams must feel emboldened and empowered enough to venture directly into enemy territory. No doubt he’s also feeling vindicated since returning to his beloved Monday Night Football in June, following six years of exile due to comments in which he compared President Obama to Hitler. Yes, it’s a different climate these days, and Williams fits right in. Enjoy it while you can, Bocephus, for it won’t be long until you’re forced to retreat once again. SANTI ELIJAH HOLLEY
STEVE SUMMERS, KRYCEK, ALLEYS OF YOUR MIND
(Killingsworth Dynasty, 832 N Killingsworth) Steve Summers is just one alias of Jason Letkiewicz, an experimental house musician who makes some of the most interesting, off-kilter dance music around. His work centers on solid grooves with just the right amount of funk and warble, released on pioneering record labels like L.I.E.S., Clone Jack for Daze, Future Times, Echovolt, and his own outlet, Confused House, which is a hub for likeminded navigators of outer-techno space. Summers is also one-half of InnerGaze, his duo with esteemed electronic artist Aurora Halal. With his golden ear, Summers has produced an unending stream of outstanding music over the last several years. CHRISTINA BROUSSARD
MARSHALL CRENSHAW Y LOS STRAITJACKETS, ROSELIT BONE
(Dante’s, 350 W Burnside) Marshall Crenshaw’s 1982 self-titled debut is a textbook example of a great rock record marred by wonky sonics. The cavernous drums and echo-laden vocals recall the brief and awkward period when ’50s and ’80s production values merged, resulting in one of the decade’s worst musical gimmicks. Nonetheless, Marshall Crenshaw contains two of the era’s best guitar-pop songs: “Someday, Someway” and “There She Goes Again” (whose ebullient melody is difficult to reconcile with lyrics that reference lite-stalking). The real gold resides in the deluxe remastered version of the album, however, which features an early 1979 pass of the song “Whenever You’re on My Mind”—Crenshaw’s best composition, which would be re-recorded (and anesthetized) for his second album, 1983’s Field Day. But the original, grittier take is everything a perfect power-pop song could hope to be: a jangling, pining paean to starry-eyed romanticism that gets better with every listen. MORGAN TROPER
TIA FULLER QUARTET
(Fremont Theater, 2393 NE Fremont) Saxophonist Tia Fuller has already secured herself a place in the pop pantheon after playing as a member of Suga Mama, the all-female ensemble that backed up Beyoncé during her tours in support of B’Day and I Am... Sasha Fierce. Great as that nod from Queen Bey was, the Colorado-born jazz artist would surely have gotten her profile high enough on the strength of her skills as a performer and composer. Fuller’s 2012 album Angelic Warrior sheds some of her smoother, more romantic tendencies in place of a snappy, post-bop approach that, on tracks like “Tailor Made” and “Descend to Barbados,” may not feel as open-hearted, but still carries a warm empathy amid her undulating solos. On “Cherokee” and the title track, she’s downright pugnacious, as she swings hard against the tumbling agitation of the rest of her band. ROBERT HAM
DEERHOOF, CHRISTINA SCHNEIDER’S GENIUS GRANT, MAYYA AND THE REVOLUTIONARY HELL YEAH!
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) Deerhoof’s songs are melodic but disjointed, mature but childish, crunchy but clean. The artistry of their sonic clashing is most obvious in the contrast of lead singer Satomi Matsuzaki’s sugary, high-pitched voice against shredding guitars and arena rock drums. Even at their most obscure and avant-garde, Deerhoof’s music is jubilant. The San Francisco band’s new album, Mountain Moves, is like a dopamine rush to a fantastical world, but they’re well aware of what’s happening in the real one. Their Twitter account has more tweets about social justice than self-promotion, and they’re donating the proceeds from Mountain Moves to the Emergent Fund, in case you needed any more proof that listening to Deerhoof is good for the soul. EMMA BURKE
JESSICA HERNANDEZ AND THE DELTAS, CANDACE
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) The latest record from Jessica Hernandez and the Deltas comes in English and Spanish versions, but either one clearly shows you the assurance of their terrific-sounding blend of psychedelic rock, neo soul, and Latin pop. What Telephone/Teléfono doesn’t show you is Hernandez’s formidable presence as a live performer, making tonight’s show a can’t-miss in any language. NED LANNAMANN
SZA, SMINO, RAVYN LENAE
(Roseland Theater, 8 NW 6th) Read our SZA super pick.
OREGON SYMPHONY, GEORGE TAKEI
(Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 SW Broadway) The Oregon Symphony’s 2017/18 concert season kicks off with a menu of works that initially blazed musical trails before they aged into deathless crowd-pleasers. There’s Beethoven’s Egmont overture, perhaps the composer’s most concentrated dose of his shakes-fist-at-heavens-then-wonders-at-the-beauty-of-it-all hat trick; Liszt’s pioneering and shape-shifting symphonic poem Les préludes; and Richard Strauss’ cartoonish, episodic Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks. The program closes with Aaron Copland’s Lincoln Portrait, a World War II-era bit of presidential hagiography with George Takei taking the narrator role, reading excerpts from No. 16’s speeches. It’s difficult to imagine a composer in decades hence writing a work that would similarly exalt our current president, but that puts the onus on Takei and our local orchestra to elevate the piece out of our current state of bitter melancholy to the lofty place of patriotism Copland describes. No doubt they’re up to the task. NL
USNEA, THRONES, HANDS OF THIEVES, NINTH MOON BLACK
(Tonic Lounge, 3100 NE Sandy) Over the past couple of years, Usnea has taken their blackened, funereal doom from Las Vegas’ Psycho fest to the Netherlands’ Roadburn Festival. Tonight the Portland band’s celebrating the release of their third full-length, Portals into Futility, which was inspired by dystopian science fiction’s depressing crossover into modern reality. It’s rooted in the ideas of novels like Frank Herbert’s Dune, Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, Carl Sagan’s Demon Haunted World, and Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Lathe of Heaven, which shares a name with a track on the album. Usnea’s sound has progressed into an introspective realm while preserving their signature downcast dissonance, making Portals into Futility a supreme sonic representation of the blight of modern humanity. CERVANTE POPE
WILLIE WATSON, BEDOUINE
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) There are a few very strong reasons why Bedouine’s self-titled debut is one of the best records of 2017. There’s the remarkable phrasing of its lyrics, as heard on feel-good rootsy rocker “One of These Days.” There’s the vaguely “lost LP” sheen of ’70s folk ditties like “Dusty Eyes” or “Nice and Quiet.” Above all, though, the scrappy project from vocalist/songwriter Azniv Korkejian exhibits an ease and confidence, whether fiddling with dark, denser instrumental interplay as heard on the mesmerizing “Back to You,” or woozy psych killers like the cinematic “Summer Cold.” Bedouine’s imprint goes way beyond folk revivalism, and toward the intangible aural confines of groovy otherness perpetrated by the likes of Midlake, John Grant, and Mac DeMarco, even while invoking the witchy vibes of Sibylle Baier. Korkejian’s worldly influence spans her childhood growing up in Aleppo, Syria, to Boston, and eventually Los Angeles. RYAN J. PRADO
DEERHOOF, CHRISTINA SCHNEIDER’S GENIUS GRANT, MAYYA AND THE REVOLUTIONARY HELL YEAH!
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) See Friday’s preview.
TIMES INFINITY, LUKE SWEENEY, RYAN SOLLEE
(Eclectic Rambler Exchange, 216 SE Alder) On Times Infinity’s 2016 self-titled debut, the Portland band cribs trippy rock ’n’ roll excess, garage-rock swagger, and deft songwriting in equal measure. Led by Paul Seely (the Builders and the Butchers, Earthworld), they’re heading out on a West Coast tour armed with the brand-new EP Party to Extinction. It’s the first of a two-part installment, with the second EP tentatively titled Party to Extinction - The Afterparty. Times Infinity’s chameleonic abilities pair well with San Francisco’s Luke Sweeney, himself a bit of a shapeshifter. His 2014 LP Adventure:Us is a smart, loopy exposition of sonic debauchery, keen songwriting, and tastefully bizarre Big Star pop. Add in the cozy confines of a brand spankin’ new vintage hub in Industrial Southeast, and you’re pretty much living your Monday night dream. Plus, it’s free! RJP
(Wonder Ballroom, 128 NE Russell) In 2011, the Canadian electro-pop duo Purity Ring played one of the best sets of MusicfestNW in front of a crowd gathering for Phantogram’s headlining slot that night at the Doug Fir. Purity Ring would go on to much bigger things, but at the time they were a little-known digital stew of bleeps, bloops, shimmering melodies, and unconventional sounds. Tennyson reminds me of Purity Ring. They’re a young (like, late teens-early 20s) brother-sister duo from Edmonton, Alberta, who grew up covering Weezer and the Beatles before brother Luke became a killer keyboardist and his beatmaker sister Tess developed into an incredible drummer. Together, they take everyday sounds—your car’s seatbelt alarm, for example—and turn ’em into hyper-accessible electronic pop songs with a healthy jazz and funk influence. It’s like if Purity Ring grew up with Flying Lotus records on repeat. BEN SALMON