There may have been some sort of overarching “Portland sound” at one point or another—who knows? It’s a pointless debate, and besides, the cross-pollination of genres—not just in Portland but all over the world—has broken those arguments wide open. Paradise Hotel, a compilation of songs by various artists from Portland’s fertile underbelly, proves this ethos handily.
Out on July 26 through local imprint Tender Loving Empire, Paradise Hotel is produced by the newly formed New Move Studios—a music- and video-centric collaborative space/studio helmed by guitarist/vocalist Jesse Bettis of pop quintet New Move, and Night Heron leader Cameron Spies. The 13-track compilation zeroes in on consistent production and displays a communal effort by an array of music scenes—all existing in a city that longs for the kitschiness of its past, even while setting its sights to a presumably glossy future.
It begins demurely with Dan Dan’s synth-heavy pulsations, which get some extra headroom thanks to a fully bloomed backbeat and Misty Mary’s sultry vocals. The song sets the rhythmic precedent well, with “Good Heart and Full Support,” a gem from the Domestics’ Michael Finn that coils sneakily around another fuzzy, funky drum beat.
“Ya Yea Yeah,” a mid-LP track by powerhouse soul/hip-hop crew Tribe Mars, is a heavy-lidded slapper with heady flows just behind the beat and a menagerie of instrumental bells and whistles. Later, punky garage marauders Melt depart from the larger scope of deep, experimental pop, but still manage to sound weird and wonderful with the production of Bettis and Spies.
There are no low points here, which sounds like a goddamn lie, but I challenge anyone to listen to New Move’s David Byrne-inspired dance-punk track “The Situation” (featuring Night Heron), or the Night Heron banger “Astronaut Lover” (featuring New Move), and not come to the conclusion that, despite its inability to coalesce into one bite-sized genre nugget, Portland is a city teeming with insanely talented and fantastically chameleonic artists.