THURS MARCH 26
Of Montreal; Wonder Ballroom, 128 NE Russell
Unbeknownst to many of the band's more casual fans, Of Montreal were some of the world's best Kinks/Smile-era Beach Boys imitators before the Outback Steakhouse ads and the advent of creative architect Kevin Barnes' barely tolerable glam affectations. The group's debut, Cherry Peel, is one of the strongest records in the Elephant 6 canon—and certainly the least discussed—and their mastery of disheveled, hyper-literate symphonic pop probably peaked with 1999's The Gay Parade, a record that comes far closer to being an indie-pop Sgt. Pepper's than In the Aeroplane over the Sea ever did. Somewhere in the early '00s, Barnes discovered Prince, Ziggy Stardust, and proper recording studios, and the band has been an entirely different beast ever since (one that's made some pretty terrific records, I might add, particularly 2004's Satanic Panic in the Attic and 2008's Skeletal Lamping). The new one, Aureate Gloom—it wouldn't be an Of Montreal record without a pretentious title—exchanges the intimate, borderline-folky predilections of its predecessor, Lousy with Sylvianbriar, for a Beck-like blender of funk, stock-Barnes glam, Lou Reed worship, '80s pop, and straight-up yacht rock. It has its moments, even if they're few and far between ("Last Rites at the Jane Hotel," "Virgilian Lots").
FRI MARCH 27
All-Ages Action Presents: Oligopolist Records Showcase w/Bone Rock, Studenets, Italics; 328 NW Broadway, #114
Portland beat stronghold Oligopolist Records (say it three times fast) are a near-perfect embodiment of the "musical collective" ethos: In addition to being an incredibly prolific source of some of Portland and beyond's most interesting electronic music, the label's output extends to its members' creative lives, purveying their visual art and short prose, with eventual plans to publish a collective-curated zine. Like any cohesive artistic community, Oligopolist is insular without necessarily feeling exclusive, at once willfully representing a common artistic goal without being dull or homogenous. On top of that, it's one of Portland's few bastions of local, weirdo, DIY-minded electronic music. Tonight's show features performances by three of the collective's principal contributors: Italics, Studenets, and Bone Rock.