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Friday, March 2, 2012

Tonight in Music: Reed Masquerade Ball, W.C. Beck, The Shivas & More

Posted by Ned Lannamann on Fri, Mar 2, 2012 at 12:06 PM


REED ARTS WEEK MASQUERADE BALL: LUCKY DRAGONS, WHITE RAINBOW, ROB WALMART, BREAKFAST MOUNTAIN, NAOMI PUNK
(Reed College Student Union, 3203 SE Woodstock) There is no way to describe what Reed Arts Week's Masquerade Ball will be like tonight. LA experimental light-and-electronic-music duo Lucky Dragons are up for the event, performing with equally unpredictable avant-garde pal Rob Walmart, so the only option is: Expect the bizarre. And maybe wear a costume. SARAH MIRK


W.C. BECK, HUCK NOTARI, GARETT BRENNAN AND THE GREAT SALT LICKS
(Secret Society, 116 NE Russell) Hot on the heels of last year's Kansawyer, songwriter W.C. Beck already has a new album, and it's one he's been working on for three years. Sapling, which celebrates its release tonight, tones down the country twang of Kansawyer in favor of a more freewheeling, widescreen version of Americana. It's a subdued record but a stirring one, featuring a plethora of local talent including guitarist Nate Clark, pedal steel/bass player Jesse Bates, and Sean and Ryan Spellman of Quiet Life, among others. But the real star is Beck's casual but emotive songwriting, mining the emotional depths of balladry without a trace of schmaltz. It's the kind of record that's perfectly suited for the two seasons we get here: cold and cloudy damp, and daisy-fresh sunshine. Beck, a journeyman musician who's done time in countless local bands, obviously has his own strengths to display—further evidenced by his songwriting contribution to Jackstraw's most recent record—and Sapling is his clearest, most moving work to date. NED LANNAMANN


THE SHIVAS, ORCA TEAM, PLEASSURE
(Backspace, 115 NW 5th) It takes a lot of imagination to allow one's self a daydream to sunnier climes this time of year in Portland, but listening to the Shivas' third LP Whiteout definitely helps. Fetching doo-wop melodies splice through dreamy beach-pop on throwback cuts like "Baby I Need You," in which drummer Kristin Leonard lilts an ultra-catchy verse on top of far-away guitars and echoed drums. The lo-fi production speaks of a loyalty to seminal R&B recordings, but the Shivas' allegiance to writing great songs first and figuring the rest out later makes them a band to pay attention to. Though they explore zestier numbers—like the single "Gun in My Pocket"—leisurely tunes like the somber "All the Time" expose their hidden trove of pop songwriting excellence. Send the quartet off in style before they zigzag toward Austin to be absorbed into the folds of Cthulhu at SXSW like every other band in the entire world. RYAN J. PRADO


THE MODERN ART TOUR: MINIATURE TIGERS, GEOGRAPHER, THE CHAIN GANG OF 1974, PRETTY & NICE
(Branx, 320 SE 2nd) San Francisco trio Geographer deftly meld drums, cello, synthesizers, loops, and pensive vocals with lush and hyper-polished production that doesn't work to their detriment. Myth, the band's debut full-length, demonstrates both a cogent sense of songwriting and expertly executed musicianship, all of which indicates that next time around they'll be playing a bigger venue, as long as internet-based suggestions that they put on a stellar live show are accurate. Tonight, they perform as part of a touring package bill from Modern Art Records and the Consequence of Sound music blog. GRANT BRISSEY


REPTAR, QUIET HOOVES, ADVENTURE GALLEY
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) Were it not for the current synth craze, I have a feeling the members of Reptar would be traveling around Africa, making their way as cheery anthropologists of indigenous music. Instead, the quartet has harnessed their love for world music to the power of the electronic keyboard, creating a high-energy pastiche for the masses to dance to. This obviously makes them enormously happy, something they find impossible to disguise in their songs. And why should they? Graham Ulicny's reggae-style vocals weave among abundant layers of percussion, loops, backing vocals and, of course, keys. Their debut album, Body Faucet, is produced by Ben Allen, who's also responsible for producing records by Animal Collective and Gnarls Barkley. It isn't out till May 1, but that's okay—Reptar is meant to be heard live. Their raucous shows have become the stuff of legend in their hometown of Athens, Georgia. REBECCA WILSON

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