Plastic Cactus
Plastic Cactus Kristin Leonard, courtesy of Plastic Cactus

Wow! It’s been a gutting couple of weeks—of fucking terrible news for our country—regarding: mass shootings, continued attacks on reproductive rights, and a shitload of other things. You might be finding it hard to care or think about anything that doesn’t feel absolutely pressing right now, or you might want some music-related relief from being pissed/sad/scared/other about where US culture is headed. This week's picks of noteworthy upcoming shows and new tunes from locally-based artists has the escape and also plenty of feelings for feelings.

Three can’t miss upcoming shows.

Sunday Sessions: Plastic Cactus, Shady Cove

We've been writing about Rontoms' Sunday Sessions a lot lately, but it would be a dereliction of duty to leave you in the dark on their excellent programming. Here's hoping that the upcoming set at Rontoms from Portland-based four-piece Plastic Cactus includes a tease of whatever new stuff they’re working on for their next album. Dually fronted by Michaela Gradstein and Brooke Metropulos, the desert-inspired surf rock band hasn’t released a project since their excellent set of gloomy EP’s from 2017-2018—Pricks and Moth Eyes, respectively—but they’ve dropped a fantastic new single every year since: a delightfully mellow, surf-rock jam “Mystery Boy” in 2019, a cover of the Everly Brothers’ rock and roll classic “All I Have To Do Is Dream” in 2020, and last year’s live recording of the hair-raising “Ghost of Tom (Live at Holocene),” which featured some ultra-spooky organ plunks throughout. Opening up the night is terrific psychedelic dream-pop duo Shady Cove, composed of songwriters/multi-instrumentalists Sarah Rose and Sarah Nienaberwill—both formerly of the band Candace. (Rontoms, 600 E Burnside, Sun May 29, 8 pm, FREE)

The Thesis: Lambo Lawson, Bremer Baden, Glamdoll, Bon Wavi, Verbz

May marked the Thesis' 80th show(!), a real milestone for the monthly hip-hop showcase which has become such an integral part of the Portland music ecosystem, and a longstanding home for hip-hop in a city that doesn’t have the best track record of welcoming the genre. The Thesis' 81st show will welcome back Portland-based rapper Lambo Lawson to headline, as he exhibits his apparent rebirth and celebrates his forthcoming fifth album, Phoenix. The bill’s support comes from Chicago-to-Portland hip-hop artist Bremer Baden, as well as ultra-feminine rapper Glamdoll, and Bon Wavi. And of course, resident DJ/host/curator Verbz will be on the 1s and 2s. (Kelly’s Olympian, 426 SW Washington, Thurs June 2, 9 pm, $15 adv, $20 door, tickets here)

Dolly Parton Hoot Night

Next Saturday, local non-profit Siren Nation presents the 16th Annual Dolly Parton Hoot Night, where a bevy of Oregon-based musicians will pay tribute to one of the most legendary songwriters of all time. Ticket sales benefit the organization's Siren Nation Festival: a November event highlighting original work from outstanding women in music, film, and art. A portion of each ticket sold will also be donated to Willamina Public Library, about 60 miles Southwest of Portland. If you can’t make it to the show in person, you can always snag a ticket to the event’s livestream for the exact same price, and watch from the comfort and safety of your home. Featured artists include Portland folk/rock singer-songwriter Alexa Wiley, Molalla-based outlaw country outfit Gerle Haggard Band, eclectic country/roots/rock/Americana artist Lindsie Feathers, and more. (Alberta Rose Theater, 3000 NE Alberta, Sat June 4, 8 pm, $20, minors admitted when accompanied by a parent or guardian, tickets here)

One great new release from a locally relevant artist.

“Holiday,” and “U Sick,” Wynne

Following up her very recent one-and-a-half-minute single “Nature Heals”—which by the way, just got a live treatment recorded at Multnomah Falls— Oregonian rap queen Wynne dropped a couple of fresh singles, “Holiday,” and “U Sick.” on Thursday. Produced by Saxon, “Holiday” is a short little ditty, clocking at just over a minute, that features a video game-like loop on the beat. There’s an accompanying no-frills music video for the track, which sees Wynne and her boys playing Nintendo and drinking Squirt. Meanwhile, “U Sick” is a thorough, catchy song that sees the emcee flexing about having these men sick out here, while melodically rapping wordplay that’s expertly delivered: “All my Ws in double digits/ On god, I got no misses/I’m riding to the game/I didn’t have to buy the tickets/ What’s good? It’s nice to meet ya/ We met but I forget him/ He striking out with me, and I’m gon’ stay behind the picket/ Check the time, hoe/ Check the— I’m off to work like ‘Hi, hoe”/ I can’t even let him hit, but he got high hopes/ and he sippin so he pick me up some Midol, without a title.”

Some upcoming music buzz to put on your radar.

The Minus 5 / The Delines

Novelist Willy Vlautin (Richmond Fontaine) and vocalist Amy Boone (The Damnations) will celebrate the vinyl release of The Sea Drift—their fourth album as country/soul band collab, the Delines—with a show at Mississippi Studios on June 30. That night, they’re sharing the stage with the Minus 5, a Portland indie rock institution fronted by Scott McCaughey (Young Fresh Fellows), Casey Neill, Jenny Conlee, Jimmy Talent, Paul Pulvirenti, and guitarist Peter Buck (R.E.M.). The Delines’ 11-track album dropped in February via the UK’s Decor Records and Portland-based label Jealous Butcher Records. A live performance video to highlight somber track “Surfers In Twilight” swiftly followed, recorded at album's recording location: Bocce Studios in Vancouver, WA. (Thurs, June 30, 9 pm, Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi, $15, tickets here)