Mercury Staffers are Sent on the Worst Assignments of their Lives... by YOU
• It's Pickathon time! We really like Pickathon. Here's our preview of this year's installment of the indie-roots music festival, which is going to be a lot of fun. A lot. It includes our picks for the fest, and an interview with John Doe from X.
• You know that guy at the Guitar Center who's just shredding? He's probably a fan of Scale the Summit.
• Plus! This week's All-Ages Action guide to shows for those who were born after today's date 1993.
• And! The standard rigamarole of this week's Up & Coming shows. (Warning: contains Michael McDonald/Toto content.)
• Mötley Crüe are hanging up their mousse and hep C for good. Didn't this, like, already happen?
• Wisconsin's Sugar Stems are making some of the best power-pop you've ever heard, and they're doing it on Portland's Dirtnap Records.
• ARCO-PDX is murdering the classics. Not the way Spike Jones did, mind you—the Portland ensemble is reframing the way traditional classical and chamber music is performed, by updating it for the 21st century. About time.
• And a swim into the depths of Hundred Waters. Does their high-concept vapor warrant dipping more than a toe in?
• Plus! Andrew Jackson Jihad and the great Portland band Hemingway in this week's All-Ages Action!
• And in case you need coolin', we gotta whole lotta Up & Coming previews for the week.
• Denver had its share of hard luck in preparation for album number two (divorce, disease, drinking). Luckily, those woes are the things that great country songs are made of.
LISTEN: Denver - "Carry On"
• Birds & Batteries' Mike Sempert moved to LA and went solo—inasmuch as you can go solo from the band you're basically in charge of—and his debut solo album, Mid Dream, is a breathtakingly good singer/songwriter effort in the finest tradition.
LISTEN: Mike Sempert - "Oceans of Rock and Roll"
• Speaking of tradition, the careful, gorgeous songs of Tiny Ruins' Hollie Fullbrook carry the British Isles folk flag high (it is a flag made of thistles and linen). Oh, except that Fullbrook's from New Zealand.
LISTEN: Tiny Ruins - "The Ballad Of The Hanging Parcel"
• Again, tradition: Seun Kuti took over the role of bandleader from his father Fela Kuti at age 14. He's not just doing his father's legacy a solid, he's bringing it into the future. Listen to this song, an angry polemic that moves—and you'll dig discovering what "IMF" actually stands for.
LISTEN: Seun Kuti and Egypt 80 featuring M1 - "IMF"
• This week's All-Ages Action! column has the best picks for this weekend's PDX Pop Now! festival.
• And all the other Up & Coming shows you really should try to see this week.
• Does anyone care about guitar-driven pop songs anymore? Blue Skies for Black Hearts do, and when you hear the Portland power-pop band's new record, you will, too.
LISTEN: Blue Skies for Black Hearts - "It's Gone on Too Long"
• Robert Ham wrote this very good profile on Dustin Hamman of Run On Sentence, but perhaps he can be best conveyed if I describe what Hamman's carrying in his press photo. In one hand, a tiny black dog. In the other, a pineapple.
LISTEN: Run On Sentence - "Run to You"
• Have Cascadian black metal torchbearers Wolves in the Throne Room forsaken metal with their new, surprisingly ambient, synth-based album Celestite? Don't count on it.
LISTEN: Wolves in the Throne Room - "Celestite Mirror"
• No ID? No problem! Our All-Ages Action! column tells you where to go if you're underage.
• And enough Up & Coming show previews to fill any wazoo.
• The members of Phox originally come from Baraboo, Wisconsin, and construct elegantly beautiful musical contraptions.
LISTEN: Phox - "1936"
• Sharon Van Etten can make grown men cry like it's her job. Actually, it is her job.
LISTEN: Sharon Van Etten - "Taking Chances"
• Sometimes great rock 'n' roll speaks for itself. That's certainly the case with Reigning Sound's magnificent new record, Shattered.
LISTEN: Reigning Sound - "Never Coming Home"
• Clipping have one foot in hiphop, another foot in noise music, and quite possibly a third foot hidden somewhere that we can't see. They are great at winning three-legged races.
LISTEN: Clipping - "Body & Blood"
• PLUS! Our continuing saga of this week's best all-ages shows!
• And our stirring collection of the week's Up & Coming previews. Read them aloud with someone you love.
• Chad VanGaalen is a visionary artist who makes terrific and unusual records all by his lonesome. He's coming to town, which doesn't happen very often—so we put together a list of some of the best ways to dip into his broad, eclectic body of work.
LISTEN: Chad VanGaalen - "Monster"
• Songwriter Doug Paisley is steadily gaining acclaim, but he's still a little uncomfortable to see people carrying a record with his face emblazoned on the cover.
LISTEN: Doug Paisley - "Song My Love Can Sing"
• You could say that Brooklyn metal band Tombs is preoccupied with mortality.
LISTEN: Tombs - "Edge of Darkness"
• Our picks for this week's best all-ages shows.
• And a delicious honeypot filled to the sticky brim with Up & Coming shows for the week.
• Guided by Voices have released approximately 3,450,731 songs in their lengthy lifetime, including two new albums this year alone. What keeps them going?
LISTEN: Guided by Voices - "Authoritarian Zoo"
• Dragging an Ox Through Water's Brian Mumford says, "Sometimes my live sets are really pretty mellow. And then a lot of times they get pretty fuckin' hairy, too." His excellent new album, Panic Sentry, embraces the best of both tendencies.
LISTEN: Dragging an Ox Through Water - "Sparrow Command"
• Chelsea Wolfe is a shape shifter, a chameleon, a one-of-a-kind performer. On her current tour, she's doing an acoustic, string-oriented thing. Later down the line she may very well do dark metal. You won't want to miss a single step.
LISTEN: Chelsea Wolfe - "Feral Sound"
• Hey, it's All-Ages Action!, our expert selection of this week's can't-miss all-ages shows!
• And your guide for living the next seven days of your life with only the best possible music available, in our Up & Coming section.
• The excellent Portland band Dolorean is hanging up their spurs after a five-album career of heartfelt folk, country, and rock 'n' roll.
• Following a bike accident, Throwing Muses' Kristin Hersh was possessed by songs. Now, thankfully, she just writes 'em.
• Not gonna lie. I'm pretty stoked on the clever headline I came up with for this week's article on stoner rock duo Tweak Bird.
• We have now reached the era in which musicians cite the Spice Girls as a primary influence. For proof, here's Exhibit O with a little line thingy through it: Danish popstress Mø.
• Plus: The best all-ages shows in this week's All-Ages Action! column.
• And! A dynamite stash of this week's Up & Coming shows (James Taylor fans, proceed with caution).
• Pink Mountaintops are often referred to as a side project for Black Mountain's Stephen McBean. Well, with the new, intriguing Get Back album, there are officially more Pink Mountaintops albums than Black Mountain albums. Also, the first Pink Mountaintops album came out before a Black Mountain album ever did. Suck on that, semantics!
LISTEN: Pink Mountaintops - "The Second Summer of Love"
• Jex Thoth likens playing music to locking eyes with a wild animal. Luckily, her band's spiritual, metal-tinged music won't tear you limb from limb—or so you think.
LISTEN: Jex Thoth - "The Four of Us Are Dying"
• It took an extra helping of beautiful sadness to make Elbow's latest batch of beautifully sad music.
LISTEN: Elbow - "New York Morning"
• Horror Show's Domenic Palermo had a stream of shitty luck. After some needed downtime, he came back with Nothing. (No, that's the name of the band.)
LISTEN: Nothing - "Endlessly"
• Parquet Courts have done something very rare: follow up a lauded breakthrough album with something that's just as good.
LISTEN: Parquet Courts - "Sunbathing Animal"
• Our handy thumbnail guide to the Sasquatch! music festival, which you'll be able to read in under a minute, we promise.
LISTEN: White Sea - "Prague"
• The triumphant return of our weekly All-Ages Action! column.
LISTEN: Waxahatchee - "Be Good"
• Plus a heavier haul than usual of this week's Up & Coming shows (there are lots!).
LISTEN: Mimicking Birds - "Bloodlines"
• Agalloch! It's just fun to say. The Portland-area elemental metal band have a new album, and if you thought it would be a slapdash affair with tossed-off two- and three-minute tunes—then you don't know Agalloch.
• Florida's Floor broke up, once, but they're back, and with new material to boot. The melodic sludgers' fanbase has grown in the interim, too.
• Our Q&A with RiFF RAFF contains the following phrase: "Having your own line of sandals is disrespectful to haters." The context? Well, that's not really important, is it?
• Plus! Our rundown of this week's best all-ages shows in All-Ages Action!
• And a hearty dollop of this week's Up & Coming show previews.
Stumpfest embarks on its third and heaviest year to date, with music from Red Fang, Yob, Trans Am, and many more. Fest organizer Rynne Stump talks about how she put together her dream bill.
LISTEN: Trans Am - "Anthropocene"
Portland band Souvenir Driver's great new album boasts an impressively diverse collection of styles that reflect the band members' divergent tastes—making it all the more impressive how well the album hangs together.
LISTEN: Souvenir Driver - "Kiss You Close"
Some guy named John Williams is gonna wave a stick in front of a bunch of local musicians. You probably know some of his tunes.
LISTEN: John Williams - "Theme from Superman"
Franz Ferdinand still want to dance with you. Let them.
LISTEN: Franz Ferdinand - "Fresh Strawberries"
Goat come from the tiny Swedish village of Korpilombolo, where they say voodoo has been practiced for a thousand years. Since this is geographically and historically impossible, let's just enjoy the hippies in masks making danceable Afrobeat and leave it at that.
LISTEN: Goat - "Dreambuilding"
Slick Rick is one of hiphop's all-time greats. So what has he been up to since 1999's The Art of Storytelling?
LISTEN: Slick Rick - "Sittin' in My Car"
Bill Rieflin has enlisted Robert Fripp, Peter Buck, and other illustrious musicians to help him make Slow Music.
LISTEN: Slow Music - Portland, May 5, 2006: "Improv VII" [sample]
• Eric Crespo's Ghost to Falco project has taken different shapes over the years, creeping around the outskirts of Portland's avant-garde and pop music communities. The new album, Soft Shield, is a record of startling invention and geologic beauty.
• Identical twin sisters Katelyn and Laurie Shook came from Sandpoint, Idaho, to make eclectic folk—fittingly, under the name Shook Twins.
• Northern Spanish band Berri Txarrak is bringing Basque punk stateside. You think your punk band is edgy? Try writing songs in a language that was banned for almost 40 years under a military dictatorship.
• English electronic-art band Factory Floor makes the most discordant kind of disco.
• PLUS! This week's hottest, coolest all-ages shows in another fine installment of All-Ages Action!
• And more hot and cold flashes in our Up & Coming show previews.
Future Islands got a lot of attention when they went on Letterman, but the Baltimore romancers have been working their way up the ladder for some time.
Speaking of romancers, Bryan Ferry needs no introduction. Robert Ham speaks to the man himself.
Lydia Loveless' fiery, confessional new record is getting lots of attention.
Plus the return of our new All-Ages Action! column, featuring the best all-ages show of the week—no ID required.
College radio station KPSU has just launched an ambitious campaign to get itself back on the FM airwaves—where it belongs.
And previews of this week's hottest Up & Coming shows: Golden Retriever! Bad Sports! Cyne! And more!
• For a guy who just released the best album of 2014, the War on Drugs' Adam Granduciel is awfully down to earth.
LISTEN: The War on Drugs - "Red Eyes"
• Anne was a shoegaze band. Now it's a darkwave-y dance-music solo project.
LISTEN: Anne - "Terms"
• British extreme metal pioneers Carcass are meddling with their legacy—in a good way.
LISTEN: Carcass - "Captive Bold Pistol"
• Local collective Sonic Debris Multimedia has already embraced the digital revolution. The next challenge? A live monthly showcase—in other words, as analog as it gets.
• Plus! The premiere of our brand-new all-ages column, All Ages Action! It's where to go to find the week's best all-ages shows. No ID? No problem!
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