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The Check Is in the Mail

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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Tonight in Music Wild Ones, Megafaun, Rubblebucket and more

Posted by Lex Chase on Sat, Mar 31, 2012 at 2:58 PM


(Backspace, 115 NW 5th) If you love your pop synthy and groovy, give the Wild Ones a listen. Adorably bubbly beats, sweet vocals, and bouncing synths make this up-and-coming Portland band a must on your "cheer-up" iTunes playlist. (You've got one of those, right?) WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY


(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) Now that Megafaun are safely out of the shadow of their more famous former bandmate and fellow Wisconsinite, they have finally stopped carrying a sonic chip on their shoulder. Last year's self-titled album, their fourth release in as many years, is all but free of the studied whimsy that characterized so many of the tracks on previous albums (the exception is the instrumental "Isadora," which sounds like the soundtrack for a movie set at a backwoods carnival). Brad Cook (bass, guitar), Phil Cook (keyboards), and Joe Westerlund (percussion) have made a laidback, tasteful album whose loveliness keeps on giving. This is surprising only because Megafaun is the most immediately accessible of their albums. Rather than relying solely on quirky instrumentation and spine-tingling harmonies, they have come to see the value in tightly crafted songs and unexpected melodies. Liberated from wackiness, Megafaun's sleepy, country atmospherics are comforting and generous. REBECCA WILSON


(Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison) The days of massive bands are—for the most part—long dead. Long live the economical two-piece! Don't tell that to Rubblebucket, an indie funk band from Massachusetts that's eight members deep. A cursory listen might conjure up Phish-groomed kids in patchouli-scented frocks. There is an element of that, but Rubblebucket blends their mishmash of styles well. Horn stabs and ambient grooves are met with hooks and big choruses. Frontwoman Kalmia Traver fronts this motley crew, delivering otherworldly vocals over occasionally extended jams. World music for the American college set may sound miserable on paper, but I'm sure David Byrne has been called that once or twice. MARK LORE


(Kenton Club, 2025 N Kilpatrick) Many bands these days employ the trappings of surf music to evoke a trendy, lackadaisical aesthetic, but Don and the Quixotes are one of the rare gems that actually walk the walk. Every song on the Portland group's debut album is soaked in vintage twang, from straightforward throwback instrumentals ("Orbiter") to numbers that curl at the edges with derisive rock and roll ("The Cactus"), and even one clever take on a classical song ("Surfer Elise"—get it?). The album sails on an undercurrent of literary references—especially that windmill wrangler of Spanish lore—on tongue-in-cheek opener "My Name Is Don!" and scintillating closer "Lore 'n' Legend." With a live show that promises polyester suits and a stellar lineup of likeminded local acts, Don and the Quixotes mean to get you drenched. MARANDA BISH


(Laughing Horse Books, 12 NE 10th) Late '90s pop-punk is without a doubt one of my generation's exhumed guilty pleasures, which in part explains anachronistic California band Joyce Manor's immense popularity. But it's ultimately their impeccable songwriting and hardcore succinctness (their self-titled LP is just under 20 minutes long) that draw the kiddies in and earn the band their distinction as awesome. Hooks and piquant teenage poetry abound in relatable summertime-all-the-time anthems "Famous Friend" and "Leather Jacket," and world-weary closing track "Constant Headache" is destined for classic status (practically every stanza is fodder for a self-flagellating Tumblr post/fanboy tattoo—what more could you want out of music like this?). The genre may have lost its steam and credibility sometime in the mid-'00s, no thanks to a bunch of commercialistic, ready-to-wear outfits who still play that thing called the Warped Tour, but mark my words: The real thing's back, with chutzpah. MORGAN TROPER


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