MIKE COYKENDALL, PONY VILLAGE
(Rontoms, 600 E Burnside) A good word to describe Portland's Pony Village is "dependable." While that may not sound very sexy, there is something to it—a band that over the past few years has delivered some terrific indie pop tunes that are cut from the same cloth as other notable Pacific Northwest bands. If you live here, you could say they feel like home. But not many bands can do that while still sounding fresh. Pony Village main man Ryan Barber has proven himself to be a gifted popsmith, and the band has yet another batch of solid tunes on their new, laidback 7-inch, "Wildwood Drive," which sees its release tonight. MARK LORE
BEN GIBBARD, DAMIEN JURADO
(Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside) Death Cab for Cutie's Ben Gibbard released his first solo album, Former Lives, and while it's not the juicy breakup album we were hoping for in the wake of his split from Zooey Deschanel, it's still a supremely tuneful and down-home affair. For true inner-eye soul-searching, look to opener Damien Jurado, who's one of the best singer/songwriters alive. NED LANNAMANN
WITCH MOUNTAIN, CASTLE, EIGHT BELLS
(Ash Street Saloon, 225 SW Ash) If patience really is a virtue, then Witch Mountain ought to be on a particularly sinister motivational poster espousing the same. In the first 12 years of their existence, they released only one album, ...Come the Mountain; but in the last two years, Portland has become at least 80 percent more ominous, thanks to their South of Salem LP and this year's follow-up, Cauldron of the Wild. The jaw-dropping catalyst of this dark resurrection is Uta Plotkin, whose voice just might be the most stunning ever to soar in front of a monolith of doom metal. The songs on Cauldron of the Wild tend to be a bit shorter, though none falls under five minutes long. This works so well because of the band's commitment to songwriting and musicianship, and the spiky, nearly psychedelic guitar riffs that create the deliciously menacing atmosphere. REBECCA WILSON
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