FRANZ FERDINAND, CATE LE BON
(Roseland, 8 NW 6th) Welsh singer/songwriter Cate Le Bon is three albums into a wonderful and idiosyncratic career, tying together strands of Velvet Underground art rock, Super Furry Animals psychedelic whimsy, coldwater British Isles folk à la Sandy Denny-era Fairport Convention, and taut guitar precision in the vein of Television into a weird, loveable braid of sound. Her most recent album, Mug Museum, is a stellar collection of off-kilter pop-rock, helmed by Le Bon's versatile voice and unique, precise diction. Her 2012 album, Cyrk, is even better, one of the finest albums of the decade thus far. Le Bon has left Wales for Los Angeles, and while one hopes this allows her formidable skills to reach a broader stateside audience, one also hopes her uniquely Welsh charm won't get stifled in the process. NED LANNAMANN Also read our article on Franz Ferdinand.
BLEEDING RAINBOW, AWESOMER
(Sloan's Tavern, 36 N Russell) Look, bands, if you're going smash together buzzy guitars, occasional flurries of feedback, and killer melodies simultaneously delivered by both a guy and a gal, and play it all at the speed of not-quite-punk, I am very likely to dig what you do. Philadelphia's Bleeding Rainbow has been doing all of the above since 2008—yes, they used to be called Reading Rainbow—and their new album, Interrupt, is a 10-track blast of breakneck indie rock centered around the sweet 'n' sour vocals of band founders Sarah Everton and Rob Garcia, with nods to shoegaze and Sonic Youth sprinkled in here and there. Bleeding Rainbow may not change your life, but they'll at least get you back on your pogo for an evening. Or, heck, maybe they will change your life: "Awesome," said Dave Grohl, a guy who knows life-changing music, about Bleeding Rainbow, according to their publicist. "My new favorite band!" BEN SALMON
LAURA GIBSON, PHAME ACADEMY
(Mission Theater, 1624 NW Glisan) One of Portland's best arts organizations (PHAME, an arts school for adult artists and performers with developmental disabilities) teams up with one of Portland's best musicians (the terrific songwriter Laura Gibson) for a sure-to-be-inspiring program of Gibson's songs and favorite covers from the PHAME ensemble's playbook. ALISON HALLETT
STUMPFEST: YOB, BLACK COBRA, DIESTO, DRUNK DAD, HONDURAN
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) For those who like their music on the hard-as-fuck side, Stumpfest returns for year three with a weekend tailored to the strong of heart, featuring Trans Am, Federation X, Yob, and more (including a sold-out Red Fang—turn on the charm, perhaps?). Hit it hard and hit it often. MARJORIE SKINNER Read our article on Stumpfest.
THE GRRRL FRONT
(Tonic Lounge, 3100 NE Sandy) Comedy and music share the stage during the second year of Grrrl Front, a lady-forward festival boasting performances from Palo Verde and the Doubleclicks alongside comedy from the likes of (Mercury columnists!) Barbara Holm and Bri Pruett. A percentage of proceeds go to benefit the staunch defenders-of-feminism at Bitch Media. ALISON HALLETT Read our article on the Grrrl Front festival.
DISTANT WORLDS: MUSIC FROM FINAL FANTASY: OREGON SYMPHONY, PACIFIC YOUTH CHOIR
(Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 SW Broadway) Nobuo Uematsu's score for 1987's Final Fantasy revolutionized videogame music. The game was the first to boast gorgeous, thematic compositions—not simply brief jingles or amorphous blips and bleeps—which transcended the technical limitations of the time and could be enjoyed as a separate, musical experience. Expect to hear selections from every installment in the series (of which, Uematsu scored the majority) as they were meant to be experienced, in a live orchestra setting. MORGAN TROPER
GRANDHORSE, FOG FATHER, KAYLEE ROB
(Habesha, 801 NE Broadway) Last summer, local pop-rock four-piece Grandhorse released their fantastic debut album Portraiturefolio. I slept on it back then, but it has since become clear that its nine tracks of loud and layered melodic goodness go down a heck of a lot easier than that mouthful of a title. One could draw comparisons to a number of high-octane indie pop acts here, but Grandhorse manage to nest within a comfort zone of their very own. The hooks on the opening number, "Short Drive with a Kidnapper," have been rattling around in my head for days now, and when the band rises up and taps into some infectious and revolving guitar threads toward the end of "Dinowolf," I find myself fully transported, far off in a world where I'm grinning behind the wheel of a silent hybrid and humming along to that perfect sound forever. [Grandhorse also headlines a show Saturday night at Habesha.] CHIPP TERWILLIGER
HOWLER, THE SINGLES
(Bunk Bar, 1028 SE Water) You may have heard of Howler. You may remember their unfortunately titled, quasi-hit from 2012, "Beach Sluts." You may remember every cynical music writer in the world cheaply comparing them to the Strokes. But I'm no cynic, and I'm hardly a writer; America Give Up, the band's first record, was at the very least an extremely tasty flavor of the week, a sterling pop outing that intimated an above-average songwriting prowess and deserved to be evaluated on its own merits. The group's new LP, World of Joy, is as melodic and charmingly ramshackle as its predecessor, but the songwriting has matured noticeably—which is not to say that the group ever steps into pseudo-literate, sensitive guy, church-of-Gibbard territory. Songwriter Jordan Gatesmith's observations as a chronically bored, over-privileged white kid are simply more astute (with a line like "You don't have to get a job if you don't want to," he may even put Don Henley out of work soon). MORGAN TROPER
TOKYO POLICE CLUB, GEOGRAPHER, RARE MONK
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) Considering the promise of Tokyo Police Club's Elephant Shell, the Canadian quartet have operated at a relatively leisurely pace since their 2008 debut. As festival staples, the band brings a sweat-provoking peppiness to the stage, routinely cramming pogo-ready melodies and lots of jangly pop into three-minute songs. The band's latest LP, Forcefield, strays little from their sharp, melodic blueprint of synth-and-guitar volleys of hummables, save for the slightly irresistible opus "Argentina I, II, III," an eight-minute opening track that finds the band exploring its more epic tendencies. Those more ambitious aural avenues are indicative of a drop-off in edginess, however, and lots of Forcefield (save for the gritty "Gonna Be Ready") suffers from a bout of the sleepies. Live, however, Tokyo Police Club is a surefire stunner. RYAN J. PRADO
Get the best of the Mercury each week in your inbox!