(Wonder Ballroom, 128 NE Russell) Remember that movie-musical Once, starring the Frames' frontman/sweetheart/baby cheeks/widdle ickle cutesybottom Glen Hansard? I wish I didn't: Once was too much. It introduced me to a world of saccharine Irish vanilla-rock that made me a little ashamed of my people for a minute. First I thought things couldn't get any worse than the sanctimony of latter-day Bono. Then there was Boyzone—that had to be the nadir, right? WRONG! Hansard might be a saint in person, but he sings like a sensitive beardo in some college dorm room trying to make the girls swoon with his Sarah McLachlan impression. "I don't know you, but I want you/All the more for that/Words fall through me and always fool me/And I can't react." Please. Spare us. BRENDAN KILEY
PAPER OR PLASTIC , BRAINCLOUD, AM EXCHANGE, ALL THE MONEY
(Backspace, 115 NW 5th) It used to be a staple, but the saxophone has all but disappeared from the modern rock band. That's not the case with Paper or Plastic, onetime Oregonians who graduated high school and are now trying their luck in New York City. Back home for a Thanksgiving gig, the band is separated from the pack by Ian Christensen's tooting sax, bringing back memories of the Champs, the Viscounts, Lee Allen—and, of course, Clarence Clemons. Otherwise, Paper or Plastic are driven by the electric piano and vocals of David Pollock, with a warm, slightly swanky '70s lounge rock vibe and watertight melodies. Their new EP, Ron Save the King, shows the band's newfound confidence, highlighted by the closer "Low Budget Film." NED LANNAMANN
ARTISTERY BENEFIT: WAMPIRE, BILLIONS AND BILLIONS, GHOST TO FALCO
(The Artistery, 4315 SE Division) In a year that saw Portland lose three more all-ages-friendly music venues (The Parlour, Berbati's, and most notably, Satyricon), it's more important than ever to lend a hand to the Artistery. A beacon for local (and on occasion, national) music tucked away underneath a house on SE Division, the Artistery has been hosting shows without age restrictions for over eight years now. The struggles of running an all-ages show space are not lost on Rocky Tinder, as Wampire's frontman used to hold the reigns for the Hush, yet another Portland venue that shuttered its door far too soon. Dig deep—the cover is only six dollars—and enjoy this triple bill of local talent, knowing your support will (hopefully) keep the Artistery above water for another year. EZRA ACE CARAEFF
Unsane, Jared Mees and the Grown Children, Anne, Teenage Murder School, Big Black Cloud, and Miracles Club, as well as a link to the complete show listings, after the jump!
UNSANE, MONGOLOID VILLAGE
(Dante's, 1 SW 3rd) I've never been so lucky as to see Unsane perform live. All I remember about them is that they were HARD-HARD-hard-EST-core noise-rock screamers of the early '90s, with a devoted-as-all-hell cult following. I also remember that they had a record cover with a picture of a decapitated guy lying on some train tracks in a pool of blood. I think I also remember reading that their original drummer died of a heroin overdose, and that the lead singer was stabbed a million or so times in the guts on a European tour. I shoulda seen 'em when they toured with Slayer. Back then, I was one of those nut jobs that just stood around chanting "Slay-YERR!" instead of paying attention to any opening band. I'm pretty sure I'm not hardcore enough to listen to any of Unsane's six albums at home anymore—not old stuff or the three brand-new tracks released this month via Coextinction Recordings. I am still hard enough, however, to go see them play live. Any self-respecting punk or metalhead should do the same. KELLY O
WORLD'S GREATEST GHOSTS, JARED MEES AND THE GROWN CHILDREN, BLACK WHALES
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) Straightforward pop rock songs aren't in vogue these days, but local musical hero—and co-owner of adored label Tender Loving Empire—Jared Mees is still a believer. His latest effort with the Grown Children, Caffeine, Alcohol, Sunshine, Money, goes down like a spoonful of sugar. Standout track "The Tallest Building in Hell" is immediately infectious; it's essentially just a chorus repeated for what might be the shortest five minutes of your life. Time races by when you're having fun. Mees' vocals ring similar to Conor Oberst's at certain points, but unlike the Bright Eyes frontman, Mees is a happy man, and you can practically hear him smiling as he sing lines like "I drink pots, and pots, and pots, and pots of strong black coffee." Caffeine, Alcohol is an old-fashioned pop record, and a pretty classic one at that, but there are enough musical peculiarities to make it an enjoyable listen for the in crowd, too. MORGAN TROPER
ANNE, ORCA TEAM, YOUTH
(Rip City Skate, 1532 NE 37th) Local four-piece Anne is releasing Mixtape One, a four-song EP that brims with skyscraping guitar and reedy synths, a fusion of late-'80s influences that now sounds more in vogue than ever. With the guitars bouncing between C86 jangle and Loveless thunder, and the synths sounding like thrift-store throwaways, Anne's mixture of forceful and fey is oddly compelling. It makes one curious to hear what the band has in store for next year, which reportedly includes a split 7-inch with American Gods from Memphis and a 7-inch EP of their own as well, to come out on Austin label Withdrawal Records. In the meantime, the EP release show takes place at Rip City Skate Shop, along with the gloriously retro sounds of the mannered Orca Team and the basement rock of Youth. NED LANNAMANN
TEENAGE MURDER SCHOOL, SKIP ROXY, PROBLEMS?, LEATHER TOM AND THE DIRTY DUDES
(East End, 203 SE Grand) The duo of Judge Bean and Ashley Mudra worked on the first Problems? record for the past two years, and the resultant You Have to Hold On is a stunning success. A rich, whirring collection that shifts before your ears, its five songs contain uncommon sounds, based on a bed of sparse guitar plucks and stargazing synths. Every now and then, like midway through the otherwise placid "Birds," everything goes haywire. It's consistently fascinating. The songs are lifted by their obvious emotional resonance, which—to this ear—sounds like they're dealing with loss and grief through both delicate sound-structuring and tribal thumping; for example, the winning "Death Machine" sounds both devastated and triumphant. The album can be downloaded from their Bandcamp page, but the band is asking that instead of paying them for the EP, you send your money to the medical fund of Deftones bassist Chi Cheng, who entered a coma following a car accident in November 2008. That's a pretty extraordinary gesture. NED LANNAMANN
BIG BLACK CLOUD, KREAMY 'LECTRIC SANTA, BLOOD BEACH
(The Saratoga, 6910 N Interstate) For Portland's Big Black Cloud, this has been a year to drop things as if they were hot. They dropped the first three words of their name (Here Comes a...) and some exclamation points as well. They dropped some members, shaking down to a three-piece that throttles with the terrific force of their face-melting synchrony. And they have dropped some records—including their excellent Dark Age—via their Stankhouse Records imprint, which is approaching its two-year anniversary. Proprietress and bass player Soo Koelbli said that from their experience as a band, they were well aware that putting out records was a money-losing adventure, but decided to take it to the next level and become a label anyway. For this, the rest of us are lucky, and thankful. MARANDA BISH
8 1/2 DJS ALL STAR NIGHT: DJ BEYONDA, DJ E*ROCK, MIRACLES CLUB, LINGER & QUIET, COPY, DJ LINOLEUM, DJ ZAC ENO, LINCOLNUP
(Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison) If you've ever wanted to experience every badass dance night at Holocene simultaneously, this is as close as you can get: 8 1/2 DJs: Holocene All-Star DJ Night features DJs Copy, Linger and Quiet, E*Rock, Beyondadoubt, and more! MARJORIE SKINNER
Complete show listings can be viewed here.
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