VALENTINE'S restaurant down on 232 SW Ankeny has been putting on some of Portland's best shows lately, and shit's just getting better. This Thursday (June 1), local music-makers Tom Greenwood and Pete Swanson unveil Clouds, a staunchly underground record store based in the restaurant's upstairs loft. But when I say underground I don't mean your favorite indierock band of the moment or rare punk singles. More like tapes, CD-R-only releases, rare vinyl, all from bands who care fuckall about big label deals, college radio, or racking up MySpace friends. This is the true underground, the journey-to-the-center-of-the-earth underground where it's so deep and dark no flashlight in the world is gonna help you out. In a word—or three—damn good music.

Mercury: How did the idea for this come about?

Swanson: Tom and I are both musicians that are involved in this totally underground CD-R and tape label culture. Tom tends to fall more toward the psyche/folk side of things and I tend to fall more toward the academic and noise end of things, but we share a LOT of similar interests musically. We both run small labels that release CD-Rs, tapes, limited LPs, and occasionally CDs, and we've been stocking the store mostly by trading our releases for other groups' or labels' releases. So, very little money is involved.

Why'd you decide to go with Valentine's?

Well, Tom helped with building the space and the people running the restaurant had offered to let him use the loft, which has mainly been used for DJs and office space.

What will the store offer that other record stores don't?

Our primary goal is to keep a solid stock of really temporal releases. Most things we're carrying aren't available in stores at all. They're mostly only available through mail order or at shows. So most of what we offer isn't available at other stores in town. I'm not so sure how many people will be interested in this music here, but our overhead is low, so...

When you say the stuff you're selling will be "obscure," how obscure do you mean?

I think the LEAST obscure stuff is the Jackie-O Motherfucker stock and the Yellow Swans stuff. We've also got stuff from Charalambides, Aaron Dilloway, Burning Star Core, and Sunroof, that I think Tom and I consider to be LESS obscure than the other stuff. I recently got a shipment of stuff from a Finnish label that I really enjoy called Lal Lal Lal. It's some of my favorite stuff we've got. But who's heard of Master Qsh and Fricara Pacchu? Even though their tapes are some of my favorite things we stock.

You bringing anybody out for store-related shows?

As for the live events, we're hoping to have a lot of folks come through this summer, groups like Family Underground, Starving Weirdos, and maybe some other folks—and hopefully some locals like Pulse Emitter, Ilyas Ahmed, Grouper, Ghosting, and other oddballs will want to show up too.

See Up and Coming, for Thursday's opening night lineup.