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Saturday, December 7, 2013

Tonight in Music: Basia Bulat, Oregon Symphony, Drunken Prayer & More

Posted by Ned Lannamann on Sat, Dec 7, 2013 at 9:50 AM


BASIA BULAT, ALAMEDA
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) Making sentimental music must be pretty easy—there's an awful lot of it out there, and most of it is like listening to an uncomfortably needy stranger breathe hotly down your neck while yelling melismas in your ear. Which makes Basia Bulat's careful, hopeful music all the more miraculous. Her plain but gorgeous voice and no-nonsense melodies—often strummed on autoharp and charango—act like a balm spread over cracked lips, a roasty fire to warm chilly fingers and toes. The Canadian songwriter's latest, Tall Tall Shadow, continues her string of absolutely lovely recordings; it's perhaps her fanciest effort to date, with larger arrangements and production by Arcade Fire conspirators Tim Kingsbury and Mark Lawson. But Bulat's bittersweetly humane outlook shines through even the busiest tracks on the winning Tall Tall Shadow, and it's even more vibrant when you seen her in person, which is a highly recommended experience. NED LANNAMANN


OREGON SYMPHONY, ELINA VÄHÄLÄ
(Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 SW Broadway) For all you ignorant fucktards who wrongly assume orchestras just play old music: Tonight our Oregon Symphony busts out a violin concerto written in 2006 by Finnish composer Magnus Lindberg. With its drastically stripped-down orchestration focused on high-strung pensiveness, Lindberg's 27-minute work is nothing less than a sonic wonder for the ears and an ethereal playground for the soul. Plus, I'm pleased as proverbial punch to report the evening's guest fiddler is none other than Elina Vähälä—sliding, scratching, and plucking her way to stratospheric heights on a 335-year-old Stradivarius. If Vähälä's last few appearances at the Schnitz are any indication, this Nordic gypsy's powerful technique and astounding grace will certainly produce spellbinding results. But hang on to your goddamn Poler hats—there's more! P-town's biggest band opens up this show with the sly, dry wit of Prokofiev's The Love for Three Oranges' surreal orchestral suite and closes it down with Tchaikovsky's flamingly over-the-top Symphony No. 4. What's that? Tonight you'll be texting while listening to some pasty lad in pearl-snap buttons whine through masturbatory lyrics? Lucky for you, the program repeats Sunday and Monday, so you've got exactly zero excuses for missing out on the orchestra's last classical concert of 2013. ANGRY SYMPHONY GUY


DRUNKEN PRAYER, ROOT JACK, DENIM WEDDING
(Dante's, 350 W Burnside) For the third Drunken Prayer album, mastermind Morgan Geer stripped things down. Fittingly, the result is titled House of Morgan, and it finds Geer performing most of the parts himself, recording in his bedroom with a Tascam cassette recorder, a Radio Shack mic, and a copy of GarageBand. The album is a personal collection of wildly dissimilar tracks (some of which are re-recorded songs from previous releases), from gutbucket blues-rock to warped back-porch folk, with a choral piece ("Lay Down") and a kitchen-sink bedroom pop song ("I Saw It with My Own Two Eyes Again") thrown in for good measure. Taken as a whole, House of Morgan begins to make a kind of sense on its own White Album-esque terms, and tonight Drunken Prayer performs a record release show for the album, released by local label Fluff and Gravy. NL


THE LONG WINTERS, SEAN NELSON
(Star Theater, 13 NW 6th) 2003 was a banner year for indie rock: the New Pornographers, Broken Social Scene, and the Shins were at the height of their powers. Ben Gibbard released two classic albums with Death Cab for Cutie and the Postal Service. The Decemberists and Sufjan Stevens were literately introducing themselves to the world. Jose Gonzalez, Damien Jurado, and Sun Kil Moon put out quiet masterpieces. Holding their own in this crowd were the Long Winters, a little-known Seattle band led by razor-sharp frontman John Roderick, whose baroque pop-rock blossomed on When I Pretend to Fall, a near-perfect album of tight harmonies, technicolor hooks, and clever turns of phrase. Pretend established Roderick as one of our smartest songwriters, a reputation he cemented on 2006's excellent Putting the Days to Bed. And then? We're still waiting. In the meantime, the Long Winters stop in town to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Pretend by playing the whole thing. BEN SALMON


FITZ AND THE TANTRUMS, THE FEATURES
(Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside) Fitz and the Tantrums is probably the only band to have opened for Maroon 5 that doesn't typically play for girls in their early stages of puberty. Based out of Los Angeles, the Tantrums are five dudes and a soul singer making radio friendly indie pop with a Motown/soul twist. In much the same vein as Mayer Hawthorne, the Tantrums include pop riffs and crooning, post-modern Elvis-style vocals. Their most recent album, More Than Just a Dream, contains the hit "Out of My League," a simplistic yet catchy love song that's best played while riding a bike in a skirt at summer's dusk. ROSE FINN


THE LOVESORES, NO TOMORROW BOYS, THE SUICIDE NOTES, THE PYNNACLES, DJ HWY 7
(Tonic Lounge, 3100 NE Sandy) For a look at the current state of Portland's garage-rock scene, you can do no better than to slap on a copy of Stumptown Rock City, the new 10-inch compilation record from Spanish label Ghost Highway Recordings. On it, four Portland bands—the Lovesores, No Tomorrow Boys, the Suicide Notes, and the Pynnacles—each offer up a new tune, then cover a classic Portland band (the Wipers, Paul Revere and the Raiders, Dead Moon, and the Miracle Workers, respectively). It's a rowdy, slam-bang party of a record, rife with distorted guitars, breakneck drums, and vocals with no shortage of attitude. Tonight, all four bands celebrate the record's release—of which a limited number will be available—and it's gonna be a fun enough show to severely curtail any Sunday morning activities. If this is the state of the union of Portland rock 'n' roll, then the state of the union is strong. NL

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