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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Tonight in Music: Black Prairie, Justin Townes Earle/Jason Isbell, Erasure, and The Lonely Forest

Posted by Ned Lannamann on Wed, Oct 5, 2011 at 12:01 PM


BLACK PRAIRIE, RITCHIE YOUNG

(LaurelThirst Public House, 2958 NE Glisan) For the month of October, genre-bending string band Black Prairie (featuring members of the Decemberists, Jackstraw, and more) plays a weekly happy hour at the LaurelThirst, showcasing new material and hosting plenty of guests. This week, Ritchie Young from Loch Lomond stops by, as well as comedian Aaron Ross. NED LANNAMANN


JUSTIN TOWNES EARLE, JASON ISBELL AND THE 400 UNIT, CAITLIN ROSE

(Aladdin Theater, 3017 SE Milwaukie) It's a bill made in outlaw-twang heaven: Justin Townes Earle (offspring of Steve Earle and a fine singer/songwriter in his own right) and Jason Isbell (former ace songwriter/guitarist for Drive-By Truckers and now frontman of his own crackerjack band, the 400 Unit). Earle has had the more tumultuous personal life of the two, having been kicked out of his dad's band and entering rehab after an arrest a year ago, but his music is smoother and sweeter than Isbell's, who's found a ragged place where Southern rock and whiskey-soaked country share their grievances. Isbell's latest, Here We Rest, is a flawless coalescence of the expert songwriting chops he's been wielding for years. To top it all off, relative newcomer Caitlin Rose opens up the show with her vital update of Nashville country. If you've ever had a twang in your heart, this is the only place you need to be tonight. NL


ERASURE, FRANKMUSIK

(Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside) I completely lost track of Erasure since—whoa, since 1994's I Say I Say I Say and the "Always" single, a song that always threw me for a loop since its hook contained that weird extra beat at the end. That's actually a big no-no in the rulebook of club hits, which states that everything must be 4/4 or die. Listening back to their older hits and glancing over the eight (huh, really?) albums since I Say I Say I Say, it's clear how inventive Erasure has been in the rigidly prescribed format of dance music. Listen to the joyful "A Little Respect" again and imagine it hitting dance floors for the first time today—it would blow people's bass-addled, dubstep-dumbed-down brains. And that's why Vince Clarke and Andy Bell have been around as long as they have: Erasure always manage to find room for songwriting smarts within a format that's historically favored rigor over invention. NL


THE LONELY FOREST, THEMES, THE HAGUE

(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) It makes sense that Chris Walla produced the Lonely Forest's latest album, Arrows, and released it on his Trans imprint: the Anacortes, Washington, quartet shares many qualities with Walla's day-job band, Death Cab for Cutie—the most obvious of which is a sunny disposition that peeks, sometimes inadvertently, through the furrowed-brow angst of their rumpled guitar pop. There's also a heap of John Roderick's Long Winterisms in the voice of Lonely Forest frontman John Van Deusen, which leaves one hard-pressed to determine exactly what it is that the Lonely Forest is doing differently from their fellow Pacific Northwestern rock brethren. The real answer is: not very much, although the group has fully hit their stride with Arrows (part of which was recorded here in Portland), an unsurprising but fully satisfying record that fills the empty pastures the Band of Horses left behind. NL

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