SAM AMIDON, ALESSI'S ARK, BARNA HOWARD
(Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison) Folk-music polymath Sam Amidon has turned American musical traditions on their ear in a series of stunning albums, and his latest, Bright Sunny South, is no exception. His goose-pimple music is absolutely worth seeing live—he's no less captivating a performer than he is a songwriter and interpreter. NED LANNAMANN
THE PARSON RED HEADS, DESERT NOISES, SAID THE WHALE
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) With only a handful of freakish mutations surviving the fallout of the folk explosion, it's a relief that some bands persevered without the fanfare or sanctimony of their more monstrous peers. Between the wistful, romantic charm of the harmony-drenched Parson Red Heads and the buoyant, fresh-faced optimism of Desert Noises, there may just be hope for all of us yet. ALEX ROSS
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