FIONA APPLE, BLAKE MILLS
(Newmark Theatre, 1111 SW Broadway) I may have waited a decade to see her, but last year's Fiona Apple concert is in my top 10 live music moments of all time. Amazingly, she's back, and with her old tourmate, serial collaborator, and producer Blake Mills, to boot. Let's relive 2012, shall we? MARJORIE SKINNER
NURSES, PWRHAUS, JOHN GENTNER
(Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison) Aaron Chapman, frontman of Nurses, has a voice that's always drawing outside the lines of tonal perfection. It lends an air of winsome carelessness to the Portland psych-pop duo's otherwise meticulous sound, and it's a blast to hear live. But this is your last shot for the year. The group's working on a new album, and has sworn off shows through December. DIRK VANDERHART
J. RODDY WALSTON AND THE BUSINESS, GRINGO STAR, TANGO ALPHA TANGO
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) J. Roddy Walston, frontman of Baltimore band the Business, once said he'd never play a gig with a synthesizer or keyboard, opting instead to schlep around his 150-pound traveling Yamaha piano from gig to gig. He'll likely do more damage to his spine than all those other Nord converts on the road, and perhaps this reason alone is enough for you to sink your teeth heartily into Essential Tremors, the new J. Roddy Walston and the Business record and their first for ATO Records. It's a grimy, raspy, thickly buttered bit of Southern rock, full of glam-spangled boogie without any of the often-attendant white-guy funk, and approachable enough for you to palm off to your friend who won't stop listening to the goddamn Black Keys. Parts of it earn Zeppelin comparisons, while the shrieking harmonies on "Take It as It Comes" are pure pop perfection. Even if Walston doesn't keep his word about lugging around that damn piano, he plays plenty of guitar on Tremors, too, so either way, this is gonna be one hell of a rock 'n' roll show. NED LANNAMANN
ROBERT EARL KEEN, THE STUBBORN LOVERS
(Aladdin Theater, 3017 SE Milwaukie) Robert Earl Keen used to tell a story about talking to a buddy who'd told him about happening upon 20 guys hanging out in a backyard in San Marcos, Texas. It was a hot day, and there was an extension cord running from the house to a window air conditioning unit sitting on the picnic table, running. They were drinking Schlitz beer. "And I thought, man, I haven't had a Schlitz beer since elementary school," Keen said. And maybe you too used to drink Schlitz beer in elementary school and you're thinking you aren't that different from Keen. But Keen wrote "The Road Goes On Forever," and the rest of us didn't. He might be the only guy who can get away with—is required to?—play his Christmas song ("Merry Christmas to the Family") all year round. And he does this with the easy, slightly lurid charm that the best Texas singer/songwriters wear so well. RYAN WHITE
PEACH KELLI POP, THE MEAN JEANS, YOUTHBITCH, BRAIN ATTACK
(East End, 203 SE Grand) Nearly two weeks after Burger Records' big Caravan of Stars Tour rolled through Portland, one of the powerhouse garage/punk/pop label's most promising melody brokers—Peach Kelli Pop, AKA White Wires drummer Allie Hanlon—will visit East End tonight. Hanlon's lo-fi sound leans more toward the bedroom than the garage; her 2012 self-titled album is a smile-making mix of bouncy bubblegum, tinny new wave, and '60s girl-group pop filtered through the dustiest boombox at the thrift store. Those melodies, though... they're sticky like syrup, and never get lost in the fuzz. Joining Peach Kelli Pop are Austin, Texas, shout-punkers Brain Attack, plus local rowdies Youthbitch and the Mean Jeans. This'll be the Mean Jeans' last local show before a US tour, so head down there and say farewell in style. BEN SALMON
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