FOALS, SURFER BLOOD, BLONDFIRE
(Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside) Holy Fire, Foals' third record, delves into ambitious, atmospheric waters while retaining the schizophrenic precision that has earned them near-universal acclaim in their native England. With a deserved reputation as an enthralling live act to boot, it's only a matter of time before they're headlining festivals on this side of the pond. AR
It's been over a year since domestic battery charges were leveled against Surfer Blood vocalist/songwriter John Paul Pitts (charges that have since been dropped, I suppose it is worth mentioning), and the band—although no doubt having experienced a permanent and potentially deserved blow to its reputation—appear to have trudged through the resultant backlash unaffected, musically. The group's forthcoming LP, Python (which contains more than a few, eerie lyrical allusions to the aforementioned situation) is sonically no less sunny than its predecessor, 2010's Astro Coast. Actually, it's even sunnier: Sickeningly melodic opener "Demon Dance" sounds approximately like a Jeff Lynne-produced Pixies track, with its indelible chorus and thick, slick, AM-gold sheen. Python might be the least cool record you hear this year. It could also end up being one of the best. MORGAN TROPER Also see My, What a Busy Week!
ANCIENT HEAT, FOREIGN ORANGE, PHONE CALL, 1980SPRINCE
(Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison) Disco, apparently, is no longer a four-letter word, so to speak. Or maybe it is and Ancient Heat just doesn't care. In either case, the great big Portland group is releasing the first in a series of covers EPs, intended to pay homage to the halcyon days of yesteryear's large-collared, bare-chested rug-cutting. Under the Covers opens with the Loose Joints' jam "Is It All Over My Face?" which is performed admirably and with an obvious nod to the once-reviled genre's groovy-sexy core. There's also a kooky nod to camp with a cover of "Theme from Zombi 2," as well as Shirley Brown's addictive "Where, When, and What Time?" The band has 100 limited-edition cassette copies of the new EP, which will be available at their release at Holocene tonight. RYAN J. PRADO
(The Lovecraft, 421 SE Grand) Is "Tolkien metal" a genre? It is now. From the foot of the fires of Mt. Hood, from the hallowed battlefield where men and goblins and half-elves fought the Great Fluoride War of '13—from Portland, Oregon, comes Zirakzigil, a doomy new three-piece whose song titles are cribbed straight out of John Ronald Reuel's darkest nightmares. The group's roaring, white-wizardly sounds are smelted into 15-minute epics of mithril-hard metal. Nod your head to the never-ending heights of "The Endless Stair"; flee in terror from the fire-whip crack of "Durin's Bane." (Don't pretend you don't know what I'm talking about.) And if that's not enough nerdery for you, Zirakzigil's debut cassette, Battle of the Peak—whose release on local label Anthem Records is celebrated at tonight's show—is designed to look exactly like a Super Nintendo game cartridge. NED LANNAMANN
MINDEN, SISTAFIST, IBQT
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) Kansas City may have the fastest internet in the world, but it's lucky for Portland that it wasn't enough to keep Minden there. Since they relocated to Portland, the art-pop outfit released their excellent debut, Exotic Cakes, last September. The video for "Gold Standard," with its surprisingly high production value and an aesthetic reminiscent of Physical-era Olivia Newton-John, is indicative of the band's uncanny balance between highly creative arrangements and uninhibited melodies. But as far as inhibitions go, nobody has fewer than SistaFist. The synth-and-rap trio of ladies have embraced hiphop's aggressively sexual tropes and turned them on their heads. Meanwhile, not even a year old, Portland-based IBQT is a boy band's boy band whose repertoire is centered mostly on make-up sex, marijuana, and themselves. But the music is so beautiful that it makes my heart thump every time I hear it. REBECCA WILSON
DIVERS, BIG EYES, YOUR RIVAL
(The Know, 2026 NE Alberta) Just in time for summer comes Big Eyes' new LP, Almost Famous, a hot slab of big, shiny power pop that puts good-time hooks above everything else. The record is unabashedly hi-fi and the playing is spotless, which might make this the coolest uncool punk-rock record of the year. The Seattle power trio ups the power in their power pop from 2011's equally catchy Hard Life. Former Cheeky member and native New Yorker Kate Eldridge channels Joan Jett and Cheap Trick for a rock 'n' roll experience with no pretensions—which, if memory serves, is what rock 'n' roll is all about. MARK LORE
WILLY MOON, MAGIC MOUTH
(Dante's, 350 W Burnside) Here's something original: Updating '50s rock 'n' roll to the modern age. Okay, maybe it's more novelty than anything else, but New Zealander Willy Moon has a little sumpin' for everyone. His reinterpretation of the past through hiphop beats and sleek, club-ready production might come off as a little arbitrary, but it works... some of the time. You can at least see the potential in this lanky Kiwi, who already has a song on an iTunes commercial and has appeared on The Tonight Show, for whatever that's worth. Tonight this pretty boy braves the dark environs of Dante's, which might be worth the price of admission alone. ML
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