It's an Important Question for the Last Two Dudes on Earth!
THEMES, HEARTS AND MINUTES, THE CASTE, GRAMMIES
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) Read our article on Themes.
TWO GALLANTS, FUTURE TWIN
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) San Francisco hard-folk duo Two Gallants never quite became the cultural tour de force they were touted as in the mid-'00s, just after the release of their excellent sophomore LP, What the Toll Tells. That's not to say that the band hasn't established a firm catalog of great music. Vocalist/guitarist Adam Stephens' old-soul songwriting and punk-rock panache have made for a glut of songs that are cerebral, literary, and downright rockin'. Their 2012 release The Bloom and the Blight saw an embrace of distorted guitars and sweeping choruses, most fluently on the album's brilliant opener "Halcyon Days." The stripped-down coupling of guitar and drums—played as if employed in a thrash-metal band by percussionist Tyson Vogel—lends an authenticity and loyalty to craft that's as refreshing to see live as it is to hear on wax. RYAN J. PRADO Also see My, What a Busy Week!
QUICKSAND, TITLE FIGHT
(Wonder Ballroom, 128 NE Russell) It's only January, and I'm more excited about this double feature than I was about most of last year's high-profile shows, partly because this is an unimaginably weird bill. First up is Title Fight, a once-hardcore but now full-fledged indie-rock (À la Superchunk, not Arcade Fire) band whose record Floral Green squeezed into my top five of 2012. Headlining is borderline bro-metal/seminal post-hardcore band Quicksand, who surprisingly don't have a new record and are reuniting solely on the popularity of their old material. This is the sort of reunion pretty much everyone dreams of; because creativity is by and large finite, reunion albums and their resultant tours are generally awful. A new album isn't part of this equation, though, so consequently not a lot could go wrong (aside from the band lacking their once-youthful zest, although footage from recent reunion gigs suggests this isn't anything to worry about, either). MORGAN TROPER
(Keller Auditorium, 222 SW Clay) It's understandable to be indignant that soft rocker Jackson Browne's been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. (He's in; Mott the Hoople isn't. I know!) But let me list the achievements of Mr. Browne, apart from the fact that his hair has not appeared to change a single strand since the cover of his 1972 debut album. 1) He dated Nico when he was 18 years old. That's right, 18 years old. She was 10 years older than him. 2) The terrific guitar solo—performed by Jesse Edwin Davis—on "Doctor, My Eyes." 3) Um... hmm. Oh! That one song on Running on Empty... no, not that one; that one's awful. I mean the one called "Shaky Town." That one's pretty all right. 4) Okay. That's all I got. Honestly, the Nico thing is probably 95 percent of why he's in the Hall of Fame. He also wrote "These Days" for her, which is not a bad song at all—Don Henley just did a recording of it with Portland's own Blind Pilot, weirdly. Oh, one more! 5) "Somebody's Baby" from the Fast Times soundtrack. That song is a totally legit jam, no foolin'. NED LANNAMANN
OTHER SON, POWER OF COUNTY, MERIDIAN, GHOST TO FALCO
(Kenton Club, 2025 N Kilpatrick) For a band that's been around for more than 10 years, Ghost to Falco is still ridiculously tricky to classify. The music pushes the boundaries of comfort and rewards the audience with unique and intentional songs. One thing is consistent: The man behind the curtain, Eric Crespo, has unfailingly experimented on each of his albums, sometimes as a solo act, and sometimes collaborating on record with more than 30 other musicians, as on 2010's excellent Exotic Believers. Crespo makes cerebral music that ranges from minimal noise tracks that don't have a recognizable structure, to Neil Young-esque, electric-guitar rock 'n' roll songs, to delicate folk tunes punctuated with harmonica. Exotic Believers, is an excellent example of Crespo's talent, which has bounced from Portland to North Carolina but has lately been back in our corner, making music that is insightful, diverse, and surprising. RACHEL MILBAUER
SYNTHESIS: J. ALVAREZ, CENTRIKAL, AUDIOELECTRONIC, ACID FARM
(The Rose, 111 SW Ash) Not to be confused with the reggaeton singer of the same name, J. Alvarez—also known as 214—is the moniker of electronic music composer extraordinaire Chris Roman. A Seattleite by way of Miami, this Puerto Rico native and veteran DJ has been at it long enough to know how to stack some serious beats. Following the progression of his music for the last five years, I have seen it morph from genre-specific electro, able to find a home among even the most scrupulous of curators, to an unclassifiable form—Alvarez is a chameleon paying homage to an amalgam of influences, at once distinctly danceable and yet entirely innovative. Exotic rhythms and alien atmospheres are par for the course in this extravagant celebration of sound, and they are not to be missed. CHRISTINA BROUSSARD
OLD TIME MUSIC GATHERING
(Scottish Rite Center, 709 SW 15th) Now entering year 14, the Portland Old-Time Music Gathering is a multi-day, multi-venue affair with plenty of old-time music, workshops, square dancing, kids' stuff and more for stringband and bluegrass lovers. NED LANNAMANN