Now Boarding: Hector and the Search for Happiness
(Star Theater, 13 NW 6th) Liars have never stayed in one place very long, but their arty adventurousness guarantees that, wherever they do end up, the journey is well worth taking. Their latest record, Mess, eschews the hard-won beauty of past triumphs in favor of harshly shambolic sine-wave dance music, but their live show remains a trip you don't want to miss. NED LANNAMANN
WAXAHATCHEE, PERFECT PUSSY, POTTY MOUTH (EARLY SHOW)
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) By combining Warped Tour lyrical tropes with a decidedly K Records-esque façade of naivety, Katie Crutchfield—who performs under the solo moniker Waxahatchee—has concocted the coolest folk-pop the blogosphere has ever heard. "Be Good," the faux-depressed Tumblr hit off Crutchfield's first record American Weekend, is bound to become something of a folk anthem for my generation, with all of its frighteningly identifiable allusions to the interminable boredom, pointlessly ambiguous relationships, and premature alcoholism that define the "millennial experience." The devastating "Bathtub," from the same album, is one of the most straightforward, emotionally authentic breakup songs I've ever heard. Waxahatchee's latest, Cerulean Salt, is more of a studio affair and features some full-band accompaniment courtesy of Swearin', the project of Crutchfield's twin sister, Allison.
Perfect Pussy is arty punk that sounds a little like a Flying Nun band and Life Without Buildings had a baby with hardcore inclinations. The group's full-length, Say Yes to Love, is an impetuous, caustic affair, and lead singer Meredith Graves is one of modern punk's most captivating figures. Go for the jams, stay for the temper tantrums. MORGAN TROPER
(Roseland, 8 NW 6th) For nearly two decades, Mogwai have been among the finest creators of sullen, slow-burning post-rock, widely lauded for their ability to transform gently chiming guitars into an unholy roar and make it look easy. On their 2014 album, Rave Tapes, the Scottish quintet's destination hasn't changed much, but the journey has. Don't fear: Mogwai's guitars aren't gathering dust here—the song "Hexon Bogon" has the band's familiar epic quality, for example—but they do take a backseat to synthesized sounds and electronic beats that feel warm and weathered, like a muted march through a field of vintage tartans. Aesthetically, Rave Tapes is sort of a lateral move. But mechanically morose charmers like "Remurdered" and "No Medicine for Regret" make Mogwai's eighth studio album a fantastic addition to one of the most dynamic catalogs in indie rock. BEN SALMON
ROBERT FRIPP AND THE ORCHESTRA OF CRAFTY GUITARISTS
(First Congregational Church, 1126 SW Park) You know that the master guitarist Robert Fripp runs a tight ship, so when he gathers an orchestra of guitarists, the results will surely be super-disciplined... and mind-boggling. What he does with his fellow Crafty Guitarists deviates from the florid, torrid prog rock he manifested with the legendary King Crimson. Rather, Fripp & Co. create massive minimalist compositions that flow and swarm with the manic intensity of certain Philip Glass and György Ligeti pieces, but realized with acoustic guitars. Fripp's Crafty Orchestra members have been known to wander around concert halls or assemble in circles while playing their intense, oscillating drones and stark, needling passages. As with anything Fripp touches, the results should be challenging and stimulating. DAVE SEGAL
TRASH AUDIO SYNTH MEET: RICHARD DEVINE, OLIVER DODD, & MORE
(Muffwiggler, 1414 SE Morrison) Gear heads and synth explorers alike will drool in delight over the offerings of Portland's newest boutique synth shop, Muffwiggler, where heavy focus is placed on modular synthesizers—think wall-to-wall space-music machines with lots of knobs and switches that you jack cables into, like an old-fashioned switchboard. They celebrate their grand opening in conjunction with Trash Audio's Synth Meet 14, which features musical performances by several experimental sound manglers, including Richard Devine, whose distinguished career might be the soundtrack to your science-fiction dreams. Many specialty synth manufacturers will be on hand to show off their impressive designs during the day, while these same types of instruments will be used in the evening's musical performances. CHRISTINA BROUSSARD
(Dante's, 350 W Burnside) When's the last time we heard from Brody Dalle? For me, it was when she joined hubby Josh Homme on Queens of the Stone Age's ...Like Clockwork album from last year. For others, it may have been Dalle's work as the frontwoman of the Distillers, where she proved that she was one of the best voices in punk rock. A short stint with Spinnerette showed she was still a force to be reckoned with. It's been five years since Dalle's put out any of her own music, and she's going it alone with her first solo record, Diploid Love (okay, so not completely alone—she enlisted Shirley Manson and Warpaint's Emily Kokal to contribute to the album). The new tunes range from punk-rock rage to more interesting and textured turns. Even when she's not in full rawk mode, Dalle's lyrics and delivery are just as potent. It's nice to have her back. MARK LORE
(Arlene Schnitzer Concert Halll, 1037 SW Broadway) Of all the long-lost, underappreciated musicians unearthed by modern retrophiles in recent years, none has gained as much traction as Sixto Rodriguez, the subject of the 2012 documentary Searching for Sugar Man, which followed two South Africans' efforts to track down the Detroit singer/songwriter who'd all but disappeared after significant success in their home country in the 1970s. It's a compelling story—Sugar Man won the Oscar for Best Documentary last year, although the weird news of director Malik Bendjelloul's suicide last week has cast a pall over that redemption story. Before heading up to Sasquatch!, Rodriguez will stop at the Schnitz, an ideal place to hear his likeable, singsong psych-folk, which sounds a little like a trippier, more gregarious Bob Dylan. BS
THE GHOST OF A SABER TOOTH TIGER, SYD ARTHUR
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) Sean Lennon's done a remarkable job not cowering in the shadow of his father John and mother Yoko's imposing artistic accomplishments. It would've been easy for him to retreat from music altogether, but he's plugged away for years doing his thing—a diaphanous, poised strain of psych pop that has surprising durability, if not the immortal sublimity and mass appeal of the Beatles' 1965-1968 run (what does?). The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger is Lennon's latest project with vocalist/girlfriend Charlotte Kemp Muhl, and what I've heard of their new album, Midnight Sun, suggests that their songs' hushed splendor—think in the vein of "Dear Prudence"—continues to take on charming new shapes. If Lennon and Muhl's relationship is as harmonious as their singing, they should be together for a long, long time. DS
OLD LIGHT, PANZER BEAT
(Habesha, 801 NE Broadway) Old Light's trajectory as a band has a direct correlation to frontman Garth Klippert's beard—the shaggier he gets, the shaggier the songs have become. Early on, the band kept it somewhat clean, unleashing CSN harmonies over autoharp with the occasional Sabbathian blast. These days, the music has become a little more unwieldy ("Transformation") and grimy ("Magic Bag"), but you can count on the fact that you can't really put a finger on what they're doing. And their live shows have become religious experiences—for audiences and perhaps more so for the band. There's only one thing I can say with a degree of certainty: Old Light is one of the best Portland has to offer. ML
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