BOOK OF LOVE, THE SECRET LIGHT
(Sat July 14 at Star Theater, 13 NW 6th) Without a huge crossover pop hit or abandoning the feather-light synth-pop sound that made them club favorites in the ’80s and early ’90s, Book of Love had taken their career about as far as it could go when they disbanded in 1994. By then, the New York-based quartet had released four albums of luminous, bubblegum dance-floor jams, spent time on the road opening for Depeche Mode, been mocked by joke rockers the Dead Milkmen on “Instant Club Hit,” and had their song “Sunny Day” floating in the background of a scene in The Silence of the Lambs. And seeing that grunge was on the ascendant, they got out of the music business with their dignity intact. History has been kind to Book of Love. The birth of a new strain of synth-pop has helped connect the band’s best work—like the knock-kneed romance of “I Touch Roses,” the throbbing beauty of “Lullaby,” and the hip-swinging “Hunny Hunny”—to modern artists like Beach House, LCD Soundsystem, and any group that’s released music on the Italians Do It Better label. Seizing on this opportunity, Book of Love’s original members—Ted Ottaviano, Susan Ottaviano (no relation), Jade Lee, and Lauren Roselli Johnson—have been working to cement their heritage with the re-release of their catalog and a smattering of new songs. To celebrate both the release of a new compilation of their vintage tunes and the 30th anniversary of their second album Lullaby, they’ve been popping up around the country this year, including a stop at the Star Theater on Saturday. Fuck the modern artists trying to breathlessly recapture the sound of the past—go straight to the source. ROBERT HAM
JEREMY ENIGK, CHRIS STAPLES
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) Jeremy Enigk’s 1996 solo album Return of the Frog Queen is a mystical curio within the story of Seattle emo giants Sunny Day Real Estate. Recorded while Enigk was on hiatus from the band—in between their influential second album and expansive third—Frog Queen showcases the unique songs and voice of a talented musician working to find himself. The lyrics are spiritual and searching (Enigk had recently converted to Christianity) and the music is generally slow and quiet, but also lush and adventurous. He recorded with a 21-piece orchestra, experimented with an array of sounds, and leaned, as always, on his distinctive drone-folk-rock style, which is what made Sunny Day Real Estate something more special than just a rock band. Twenty-two years later, Sub Pop has reissued Frog Queen in expanded form, and Enigk is touring with a full band, playing the whole record live. BEN SALMON
LORAIN, NOTEL, LAURA PALMER’S DEATH PARADE
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) Lorain’s debut LP Through Frames has been marinating for a while now, but the woozy Americana outfit has offered some sneak-peeks leading up to its September release. Tonight, the band drops their single “Rose Window,” a hypnotic cross-section of singer/songwriter Erik Emanuelson’s poetic verse and attention to song dynamics. Eschewing the “epic crescendo” vibe, as Emanuelson puts it, of the previous incarnation of the band—Grand Lake Islands—“Rose Window” unfolds slowly and purposefully, not unlike the flower from which the song takes its name, allowing the delicate dance of keys, guitars, bass, and drums plenty of room to bloom. Vocal harmonies are bulls-eyed by bandmate Robin Bacior, whose tender phrasing emboldens Emanuelson’s lines to newer heights. RYAN J. PRADO
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CHRISTINE McVIE! Don’t stop... being Perfect.
SYLVAN ESSO, PHOEBE BRIDGERS
(Edgefield, 2126 SW Halsey, Troutdale) Phoebe Bridgers isn’t afraid to get personal in her songs, which traverse everything from visiting a hypnotist to the crimes of Jeffrey Dahmer. She’s said that her hometown of Los Angeles plays a role in her music, but not because she’s trying to incorporate the sunshine—it’s just that “a lot of shit goes down wherever you may grow up.” On Bridgers’ 2017 debut Stranger in the Alps, tracks like “Scott Street” blend acoustic guitars with sharp violins and samples to create a commanding sound. The album ranges from pure melancholy to an indie folk dream, even including a duet with Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst on “Would You Rather.” Headlining this Edgefield show is Sylvan Esso, whose most recent record, 2017’s What Now, takes a turn for the electronic. ANNA KAPLAN
WIMPS, THE GHOST EASE, MOPE GROOVES
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) The world is full of dimestore Jerry Seinfelds, wits manqué who equate noticing and then complaining about life’s little annoyances with clever cool. But it takes true grace to gripe about a relatively comfortable existence without slipping into noxious self-absorption. On Wimps’ wonderful second album, Garbage People, the Seattle punk trio shows us how it’s done. If the record has a statement of purpose, it’s “Baggage,” a minute-long blast bemoaning the ways people are designed to annoy each other. But whether they’re grumbling about laziness (“Procrastination”) or bellyaching about temperance (“Quitter”), Wimps use wry silliness and sarcastic self-loathing to access a gentle kind of melancholy, the kind that comes with an understanding of time’s lopsided cruelty: We might all get to same place in the end, but some of us are lucky enough to enjoy lovely stretches during which we collect only small agonies. Wimps seem to understand that we should revel in this luck, to enjoy the shitshow while it’s still bearable. CHRIS STAMM
WYE OAK, MADELINE KENNEY
(Revolution Hall, 1300 SE Stark) The magnetic Baltimore, Maryland, duo Wye Oak has spent the past decade making beautifully simple and introspective indie rock. Early records like their guitar-driven 2008 debut If Children and 2009 follow-up The Knot are composed of folksy songs with pensive lyrics, but the band’s synth-heavy new album The Louder I Call, the Faster It Runs finds them experimenting more than ever. With newfound R&B influences, Wye Oak’s latest is electronic, minimalist, and overall dreamy. DELANEY MOTTER
BOOK OF LOVE, THE SECRET LIGHT
(Star Theater, 13 NW 6th) Read our Book of Love super pick.
PICKLEFEST: TACOCAT, KYLE CRAFT, THE PARSON RED HEADS
(Walker Stadium, SE 92nd & Holgate) The Portland Pickles have officially taken the West Coast League by storm. Powered by some unbelievably clutch hitting from fan favorites Zander Clarke and Joey Cooper, the team recently locked up a playoff spot by clinching the West Coast League’s South title for the first half of the 2018 season. To celebrate the occasion, the Pickles are throwing Picklefest, a summer festival with more than 50 beers, all the hot dogs and fried pickles you can eat, and live music from beloved Seattle pop-punk outfit Tacocat, along with Portland’s own Kyle Craft and the Parson Red Heads. A ticket to Picklefest will net you a souvenir pint with a complimentary fill, admission to the pregame concert, entry into a vinyl giveaway, and a right field berm ticket for the night game against the Kelowna Falcons. You’ll also get the chance to spend some quality time partying with Dillon the Pickle, who is undoubtedly the greatest mascot in all of sports. CHIPP TERWILLIGER
CAR SEAT HEADREST, NAKED GIANTS
(Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside) What do you do to follow up a pair of excellent records that prompted a whole bunch of people to declare you the savior of the dying genre known as indie rock? If you’re Car Seat Headrest’s Will Toledo, you revisit, reimagine, and re-record a seven-year-old Bandcamp fave. Car Seat Headrest rocketed to relative fame in 2016 after the venerable Matador Records released Teens of Style and Teens of Denial, two documents of Toledo’s undeniable talent at expertly fusing jagged guitars, clever lyrics, memorable melodies, relatable neuroses, and DIY ethos. The guy is still just 25, and he seriously knows what he’s doing. That’s obvious yet again on his latest project, in which he re-recorded his self-released 2011 album Twin Fantasy to capture his original vision, now that he has more money and time to spend. It’s an odd next step, but Toledo improved the album in every possible way. BS
S. CAREY, H.C. McENTIRE
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) Bon Iver drummer S. Carey headlines tonight’s show, but get there early to see Mount Moriah frontwoman H.C. McEntire, who released her stunning solo debut Lionheart via Merge Records earlier this year. With the help of collaborators like riot grrrl icon Kathleen Hanna and Americana singer/songwriter Tift Merritt, McEntire’s powerful songs unite the Appalachian folk traditions of the rural North Carolina hollers where she was raised with the punk ethos of her former band Bellafea and modern pop elements (like the electronic beat on “Wild Dogs,” which features backing vocals from Angel Olsen and harp from Mary Lattimore). Her words bridge another kind of canyon: On tracks like opener “A Lamb, a Dove,” she layers Biblical imagery with lyrics that openly discuss queer relationships (“I have found heaven in a woman’s touch/Come to me now, I’ll make you blush”). McEntire is one of the few openly gay women in country music, and throughout Lionheart, she sings lovingly about the Bible Belt, a place that has yet to accept her. These songs swell with mercy, grace, and grit—just listen to “Red Silo” and tell me H.C. McEntire isn’t destined for Lucinda Williams-level greatness, I dare you. CIARA DOLAN
THE PILLOWS FEAT. FLCL, NOODLES, CULLEN OMORI
(Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside) Supporting the Pillows on their brief North American tour is another terrific and equally prolific Japanese indie rock band: Noodles. Ensconced in the same Who-meets-Pixies tradition as their tour-mates, Noodles hit a power-pop home run with 2006’s Cover Me Shakespeare, a half hour of heavy and heavenly guitar-pop that remains one of the best starting points for contemporary J-rock. The best of the batch is “Splash”—easily as good as any Muffs or Pinkerton-era Weezer anthem—and “Jupiter Hotel,” which finds the group pulling off Thin Lizzy-style guitarmonies a full decade before American indie rock bands began ripping off Jailbreak. Noodles are still at it, and still great; last summer they released their 13th LP, Metaltic Nocturne, and it’s a worthwhile addition to a formidable discography. MORGAN TROPER Also read our story on the Pillows.
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) In June 2001, Stumptown employees stayed after hours at the original location on Southeast Division to record Worker’s Comp, Volume 1. Last year the Portland-based coffee roaster brought employees from Stumptown locations across the country to record Volume 2 at the Map Room with producer Mike Coykendall. Unveiled in May, highlights from the new collection include tracks from the Tamed West (“My Old Friend”), Longclaw (“Tower”), and Uncle Hornet (“Uncle Hornet Flies Again”). Along with some surprise special guests, its release is being celebrated tonight at the Doug Fir with Portland’s own Guantanamo Baywatch, whose 2017 album Desert Center sounds like it was birthed on orange shag carpet. It’s got Dick Dale-style surf guitar, interludes of sinister laughter and nonsensical incantations, spaghetti western cowboy fantasies, and doo-wop punk melodies that’d make John Waters’ pencil mustache wiggle with glee. CD