JAMILA WOODS Mon 12/4 Holocene Courtesy of the artist

SUPER PICK

JAMILA WOODS, VAGABON
(Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison) Over the past few years, the great American city of Chicago has churned out a whole bunch of visionary artists working, generally, within the hip-hop/soul/R&B side of music. Most visible (by far) is Chance the Rapper, but there’s also Vic Mensa, Noname, Saba, Mick Jenkins, Smino, and many more. All of these folks have put out excellent records; Chance’s Acid Rap and Coloring Book, Noname’s Telefone, and Saba’s Bucket List Project are especially rewarding. But the very best album to come out of Chicago in recent years is called HEAVN, by next-level soul singer/songwriter and Second City goddess Jamila Woods. Originally self-released online, HEAVN is an immersive collection of pillowy arrangements, sparkling pianos, playground melodies, hip-hop rhythms, clever interpolations (of the Cure and Paula Cole, among others), vibrant jazz, spoken-word snippets, and a beautiful, bottomless pool of Black girl magic. It’s a cool and cohesive artistic statement, confident in its perspective and deeply rooted in the human experience. At the center of it all is Woods, who moves through HEAVN with a perfect balance of grit and grace, claiming her name, her upbringing, her ancestors, and her future while touching on spirituality, self-preservation, and the sobering realities of being Black in Chicago in 2017. “I won’t let you criticize/My city like my skin, it’s so pretty,” she sings in “LSD,” featuring longtime collaborator Chance. “If you don’t like it, just leave it alone.” BEN SALMON


WEDNESDAY 11/29

PIXIES, THE ORWELLS
(Roseland, 8 NW 6th) There’s been much handwringing about the return of the Pixies and whether the band’s reunion has damaged its indie/college/alt-rock legacy. First folks worried that a decadelong reunion tour with no new music was just a cash grab. Then when the band did release new music—three EPs and the 2014 LP Indie City—some felt it didn’t meet the incredibly high standard the Pixies set between 1987 and 1991. A few years ago, cofounder Kim Deal left the band, and last year the Pixies released another new album called Head Carrier. And it’s... not bad! But here’s the thing: You don’t need to worry about the legacy of the original Pixies anymore. That legacy is set; the shows and songs of the current version don’t negatively or positively affect it. There are two Pixies now, and two legacies. Is there some overlap? Of course. That’s why this week’s three-night stand at the Roseland is a can’t-miss—they might just play “Caribou,” “Bone Machine,” or “Debaser.” BEN SALMON Also see All-Ages Action!

NAOMI PUNK, MALT LIZARD
(The Liquor Store, 3341 SE Belmont) Naomi Punk’s always had an idiosyncratic take on punk rock, but on its new album, Yellow, the Olympia trio pushes itself to the genre’s limits. A double album clocking in at a forbidding 75 minutes, Yellow crawls and claws along like some unnameable beast born in the borderland between life and a very bad dream. Like US Maple’s turn-of-the-century deconstructions, Naomi Punk’s radical explorations will test the patience of anyone expecting conventional payoffs—these are melted songs that ooze and accrete, miasmic spills with no beginning or end. There are tunes in there, intelligible shapes that are sharp enough to stay stuck in reality, but on the whole, Yellow is an unnerving creation that leaves one feeling lost, alone, and alien. It’s sometimes a frustrating album, but it’s also utterly stunning, and points a way forward for the depressingly small population of punks who aren’t fixated on tradition. CHRIS STAMM

TK AND THE HOLY KNOW NOTHINGS, TAYLOR KINGMAN, MIKE COYKENDALL
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) As frontman of the Hill Dogs, Taylor Kingman is a fixture in Portland’s scraggly Americana underworld. But when Kingman blew his voice out, the band was put on hiatus. He began to write vigorously while it healed, and the fruits of that creative period yielded the songs on his new solo debut, Wannabe. The record sparkles with deft acoustic guitar dynamics and the ragged beauty of Kingman’s sandpaper vocals. The minimalist presentation of Wannabe belies the powerful imagery in songs like “A Curious Pride,” in which Kingman executes hypnotic American primitive guitar melodics and vivid poetic verses. His voice comes achingly close to crackling during “I Called You Up to See if You Were Dead,” another exposition of his masterful guitar picking. Kingman will beef up the songs with a four-piece to perform Wannabe front-to-back at tonight’s record release show, with his self-described “psychedelic doom boogie” band TK and the Holy Know Nothings performing last to close out the night. RYAN J. PRADO


THE PIXIES Thurs 11/30-Sat 12/1 Roseland Courtesy of the artist

THURSDAY 11/30

PIXIES, THE ORWELLS
(Roseland, 8 NW 6th) See Wednesday's preview and All-Ages Action!

THE FUR COATS, CAT HOCH, MELT
(The Know, 3728 NE Sandy) This past spring, the Fur Coats returned to Portland after a month-long European tour a tighter-knit group and an even mightier live act. The shadowy R&B six-piece has been riding that momentum through 2017 and recording new material, including the single “Mirror Gazing Pt. 1: We Live.” It’s a slow-building lounge song with an accompanying video that’s a little more sparkly than their previous efforts, but still perfectly captures the Coats’ knack for blending the best of traditional rock and soul with the arty and strange visions of songwriters Chris Hoganson and Betty Downey. The Fur Coats will celebrate the single’s release with an impeccable bill that includes fever-dreamy singer/songwriter Cat Hoch and rock ’n’ rollers Melt, in what I imagine will resemble something between a rock show and a cult ritual. MARK LORE

GIFT OF GAB, RANDAL WYATT
(Star Theater, 13 NW 6th) Put simply, Gift of Gab is a legend. He formed the Bay Area hip-hop group Blackalicious with DJ/producer Chief Xcel in the ’90s before making several standout solo albums. He has one of the best flows out there, as evidenced in Blackalicious’ 1999 hit “Alphabet Aerobics,” where Gab raps his way from A to Z. (The song went viral in 2014, when Daniel Radcliffe rapped the whole thing on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.) On his new EP, Rejoice! Rappers Are Rapping Again!!, the lyricist addresses everything from his superior MC skills to the heartbreak of losing a home to gentrification. Because of a recent kidney failure, Gab’s touring less than he used to. If you’re into carefully wrought tongue-twisters delivered over classic hip-hop beats, take this opportunity to go see him. ISABEL LYNDON


FRIDAY 12/1

PIXIES, THE ORWELLS
(Roseland, 8 NW 6th) See Wednesday's preview and All-Ages Action!

MO TROPER AND THE ASSUMPTIONS, COOL AMERICAN, WHITNEY BALLEN, SEACATS
(The Know, 3728 NE Sandy) Read our review of Mo Troper’s new record, Exposure and Response.

PORTLAND GAY MEN’S CHORUS
(Newmark Theatre, 1111 SW Broadway) As a former choir nerd, I get giddy thinking of putting on festive evening wear and stepping out to hear gorgeous choral arrangements of new and traditional holiday songs. Starting the month of December off right, the Portland Gay Men’s Chorus returns for The Most Wonderful Season, a joyous holiday event that’ll see them perform seasonal selections that celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, and the New Year. Get excited for costumes, lights, dancing, and a few surprises. JENNI MOORE


BELL WITCH Sat 12/2 Tonic Lounge John Heaton

SATURDAY 12/2

SKATING POLLY, STARCRAWLER, SKELEVISION
(Analog Café, 720 SE Hawthorne) See All-Ages Action!

PORTLAND GAY MEN’S CHORUS
(Newmark Theatre, 1111 SW Broadway) See Friday's preview.

WAKE THE TOWN: THE LAST ARTFUL, DODGR, NEILL VON TALLY, BARISONE, PRSN
(The Liquor Store, 3341 SE Belmont) Wake the Town comes bearing gifts. For December, the monthly bass/hip-hop/reggae night features local standouts The Last Artful, Dodgr and Neill Von Tally, whose Bone Music collaboration turned heads earlier this year, and who are guaranteed to bring enough heat to dry out those rain-soaked galoshes you’ve got on. DIRK VANDERHART

OREGON SYMPHONY, ANDRE WATTS
(Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 SW Broadway) It’s fitting that this week’s Oregon Symphony concert coincides with Portland’s annual Scandinavian festival (see Things to Do, pg. 15), as the four-piece program showcases composers from Scandinavia—and Finland, which some don’t consider part of Scandinavia. I suppose it’s really up to the Finns whether they are or not, but they definitely dominate this bill, with Joonas Kokkonen opening the affair with his stormy, wonderfully intriguing Symphonic Sketches. Next, Edvard Grieg’s fussy, overly romantic Piano Concerto is one of only a few large-scale orchestral works the Norwegian ever wrote; soloist André Watts will assuredly make Grieg’s melodrama work wonders. The titan among tonight’s composers, Finland’s Jean Sibelius, is represented by his relatively lightweight Valse Triste, which levels the playing field. And lastly, Danish composer Carl Nielsen’s meandering, fidgety Symphony No. 5 boasts two expansive movements that sound like an army of soldiers falling apart and coming together, learning from each musical sputter until the piece affirmatively concludes with balletic grace and power. Unsurprisingly, Sweden does not place; despite reasonable showings by Berwald, Alfvén, and others, the Swedes never produced a classical composer of Nielsen or Grieg’s stature, let alone Sibelius’. Which is fine—they turned out to be really good at pop music. NED LANNAMANN

MOPE GROOVES, CHARLIE MOSES, MERSKY, SCORCH
(The Know, 3728 NE Sandy) Evan “Maus” Mersky is one of Portland’s busiest behind-the-scenes players. He was an original member of Portland power pop band the Cry! and is an engineer at Red Lantern Studios, one of the city’s best and most affordable recording studios. With his eponymous project, Mersky is stepping into the spotlight for the first time. His debut EP is a collection of indie pop songs that bring to mind the hazy nonchalance of early Grandaddy, and predictably, it’s great. Also performing is Charlie Moses, whose new album, Figurine, sits at the unique intersection of jazz and singer/songwriter pop. This show serves as the tour kickoff for both artists. MORGAN TROPER

A PERFECT CIRCLE
(Veterans Memorial Coliseum, 300 N Winning) It’s tough to pinpoint what makes any Maynard James Keenan project so polarizing. His most popular creative vehicle, Tool, spawned a million pseudo-metalheads who probably had a hard time reconciling the band’s aggressive prog dalliances with Keenan’s emotional, nuanced vocals. When A Perfect Circle formed in 1999, it was billed both as a super-group, which it ostensibly was, and as something new, which was highly debatable. Despite the quality of the group’s 2000 debut, Mer de Noms, there was little to differentiate the music from Tool’s AEnima. A Perfect Circle recently released the lone single “The Doomed” to tease its as-yet-untitled forthcoming album. Some will probably hate the shit out of it—this first track includes strings, heavy metal flourishes, and xylophones—but that won’t stop thousands of fans from packing Memorial Coliseum. RJP

PERE UBU, DIMINISHED MEN, LITHICS
(Star Theater, 13 NW 6th) Born from the same Midwestern subversion of fellow musical weirdos Devo and the Waitresses, Pere Ubu has been making compelling, existential art-punk since 1976. Since then, the band’s gone through multiple lineup changes—lead singer David Thomas is the only original member remaining. But his presence, along with the distorted noises lining each melody, is what defines Pere Ubu’s avant-garde existence. Thomas sings with frenzied desperation, his voice an emotional current rippling throughout his whole body during live performances. It’s impossible to hear the group’s early releases and not feel as though you’re listening to the source material for contemporary alt-rockers. But Pere Ubu hasn’t aged out—if their debut, The Modern Dance, were released today, it’d sound just as fresh and exciting as it did in 1978. EMMA BURKE

BELL WITCH, MONARCH, USNEA
(Tonic Lounge, 3100 NE Sandy) Seattle duo Bell Witch crafts colossal funeral doom that’s as brooding and glum as a Pacific Northwest winter. The group dropped its self-titled demo in 2011, and most recently released Mirror Reaper, its grisliest work yet. The record’s format is unconventional, to say the least—it’s not broken up into tracks, and instead stretches across one epic, 83-minute-long journey of ambient ruin. It honors the band’s former drummer and vocalist, Adrian Guerra, who passed away in his sleep last year at the age of 35. There’s a heart-wrenching section of the album that incorporates some of his unused vocals from past releases. With Aerial Ruin’s Erik Moggridge providing guest vocals, Mirror Reaper is a fitting tribute to Guerra and Bell Witch’s most darkly beautiful composition yet. CERVANTE POPE


SUNDAY 12/3

SALES, CHAOS CHAOS
(Aladdin Theater, 3017 SE Milwaukie) See All-Ages Action!

LAUREL HALO, GOLDEN RETRIEVER, STRATEGY
(Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison) Read our story on Laurel Halo.

PORTLAND GAY MEN’S CHORUS
(Newmark Theatre, 1111 SW Broadway) See Friday's preview.

OREGON SYMPHONY, ANDRE WATTS
(Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 SW Broadway) See Saturday’s preview.


VAGABON Mon 12/4 Holocene Daniel Dorsa

MONDAY 12/4

JAMILA WOODS, VAGABON
(Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison) Read our Jamila Woods super pick.

OREGON SYMPHONY, ANDRE WATTS
(Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 SW Broadway) See Saturday’s preview.


TUESDAY 12/5

TRUE WIDOW, SRSQ
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) For the past 10 years, True Widow has mastered a strange, weighty blend of dark psychedelia, shoegaze, and doom. It’s landed the band on bills with bigger acts like Kurt Vile and Boris, but they can command a stage on their own, too. The Texas trio has been on the road intermittently since releasing 2016’s Avvolgere, and though they haven’t yet hinted at new material, hopefully there’s something in store for fans in the new year. CP