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Friday, June 6, 2014

Tonight in Music: Grave Babies, the Minus 5, Pacific Mean Time & More

Posted by Ned Lannamann on Fri, Jun 6, 2014 at 10:10 AM


GRAVE BABIES, VICE DEVICE, DEATHCHARGE
(East End, 203 SE Grand) Grave Babies are a bright spot—really, that's a compliment—in the neo-goth/post punk movement that finds so many bands watering things down to lighter shades of boring. The Seattle three-piece casts an ominous shadow while making sunny melodies, recalling some of Echo and the Bunnymen's best work. They say they love Nirvana, and are obsessed with death (song titles from their last album, Crusher, include "Skulls," "Blood on the Face," and "Slaughter"), which may give an indication to what they're about—as if the band name doesn't already. The good news is that Grave Babies own it, which is 90 percent of the battle. MARK LORE


THE MINUS 5, ROY LONEY AND THE LONG SHOTS, THE TRIPWIRES
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) What began 21 years ago as a fun side project has become a well-established institution of country-tinged power pop. Led by Young Fresh Fellows frontman Scott McCaughey, with R.E.M.'s Peter Buck, the Minus 5's ever-changing lineup has included collaborations with Wilco, John Wesley Harding, Ken Stringfellow and Jon Auer of the Posies, and members of the Decemberists. While the band wears its experience, with tight structures and solid musicianship, their songs are never overly polished. McCaughey and Buck are rough around the edges in all the right ways, and somehow maintain more energy and enthusiasm than most artists half their age can muster. On Record Store Day, the Minus 5 released, in a limited edition of 750, a five-album set of new material called Scott the Hoople in the Dungeon of Terror. Tonight they're joined by legendary Flamin' Groovies singer Roy Loney. JOSHUA JAMES AMBERSON


PACIFIC MEAN TIME, THE MY OH MYS, YOUNG VIENNA
(Alhambra Theatre, 4811 SE Hawthorne) Portland band Little Beirut traded in their gloss-pop chips to become Pacific Mean Time, a new outfit-in-name whose self-titled debut album is equally as shiny and radio-friendly as the three Little Beirut albums that preceded it. Perhaps, though, Pacific Mean Time are opting for something a little more brooding this time around, as the album's 10 tracks ruminate over their melancholy melodies rather than crack them out of the park. What does come through, in Pacific Mean Time's deliberate, careful production and vocalist Hamilton Sims' bedroom-mellow vocals, are sound songwriting instincts, perhaps in spite of all the careful sonic polish that surrounds them. To be sure, this is lush, expensive-sounding soft rock for fans of the Postal Service and Coldplay, but Pacific Mean Time's careful attention to craft pays off on tracks like "How to Cheat Death" and "Bo Derek." NED LANNAMANN


IMPROVISATION SUMMIT OF PORTLAND: SCOTT CUTSHALL, TIM BERNE, RICH HALLEY, PINKISH
(Sandbox Studio, 420 NE 9th) The Creative Music Guild have been the most stalwart supporters of experimental sound in Portland for over two decades, and for the past three years, they've focused their annual calendar of events around this three-day blending of artistic disciplines. Key to the success of these Improvisation Summits has been their ability to bring artists from outside the city to collaborate and improvise with local musicians. This year, that guest is saxophonist Tim Berne, a mainstay of the New York avant-jazz scene whose playing continues to breathe life into the post-bop body politic. He plays Friday, both on his own and with an ensemble of local players. The rest of the weekend features a wealth of Portland players in solo performances or random combos, including Golden Retriever keyboardist Matt Carlson, vocalist Amenta Abioto, and free-jazz quintet Pinkish. ROBERT HAM


CHRIS NEWMAN, THE PROTONS, TOY
(Tonic Lounge, 3100 NE Sandy) Napalm Beach's Chris Newman is a local rock 'n' roll icon, but unlike most icons, he's still cutting a relentless path forward like a shark. Fittingly, his new solo record is called Beachcomber, and rather than bringing to mind beach-blanket bingo, its gnarly punk rock evokes black-eyed leviathans chomping down on tanned surfer dudes and their surfboards. Newman and drummer Doug Naish recorded the album with Jack Endino earlier this year, and they've covered an impressive breadth of beachfront property: Beachcomber contains "Planet Caravan"-style sand-dollar psychedelia ("White Sands"), twanging reverb surf-guitar workouts ("Stingray"), and romantic R&B ("Woman and Man"). It'll make for a fine soundtrack to any beachside bonfires you light this summer. NED LANNAMANN

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