Talking About Horrible Things with Portland's Foremost Tonya Harding Expert
I spoke with Brown about Phantom Ships, and how he managed to assemble such a group of local all-stars. "I was drinking one night with Steve Turner, and I said, 'Hey man, I got some songs that I think it would be really cool if we played 12-string guitars and harmonized together,'" he says. "And he said that sounds really fun. So then I had to do the dreadful thing of like sitting down in front of him with an acoustic guitar and being like, here’s my song." Around the same time, Brown was jamming with Railton, and the band formed quickly from there, adding Adair on bass.
Phantom Ships' first show materialized when Matt Drenik of Battleme asked them to play the album release show for his new record, Future Runs Magnetic (read more about Battleme in our story here). As Brown says, Drenik told him, "'You need a date in your future that makes your band get your songs together. So why don’t you open for us?' Matt gave us the excuse to book a show and make it happen."
Originally both Turner and Brown were playing 12-string guitars. "That was the original idea," says Brown. "And then once we got in a room with drones and we started playing two 12-string electric guitars together, we realized why no one does that. That doesn’t need to happen. I brought it up again the other night for the first time in a while, and everyone in the room kind of shook their head. I think everyone’s decided that it’s a little too much."
So it's just Turner on 12-string for now—a noteworthy difference from his six-string work with Mudhoney. "In Mudhoney, one of his main guitars is this ’60s Guild hollowbody, and he got a friend that’s a guitar whiz to track down a 12-string version," says Brown. "That’s all he’s playing in the band. It’s so rad. He’s doing a lot of lead guitar on it." I ask if Turner's doing a chimes-y, Byrds-y kind of sound. "Would you think the guitar player from Mudhoney would play a chimes-y, Byrds-y kind of sound? Nope, it ain’t. I think maybe that was the idea, originally, but I describe it now as 'garage-y Laurel Canyon.' So if you took Laurel Canyon and gave it an overdrive pedal and simpler songs, but kept that songwriter spirit. God, I just said a mouthful of douchiness. 'Garage from Laurel Canyon,' how’s that? Steve’s playing the 12-string a little haphazardly perhaps than Roger McGuinn or Gene Clark did. There’s a distortion pedal involved."
Phantom Ships debuts tomorrow night opening for Battleme at Club 21—that's a free show. They're hoping to record 10 songs or so in the next couple months, although nothing's set in stone. "Momentum, right? Momentum is the key to any relationship," says Brown. "The tough part is that I have to be the guy in the band who creates the momentum—never a fun guy to be." Phantom Ships will also perform at Bunk Bar on Tuesday, March 11.
The von Trapps and Pink Martini have several US tour dates scheduled in March, but no confirmation if the von Trapps will appear at Pink Martini's three hometown shows with the Oregon Symphony at Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, to take place on April 11-13.
The best new band in Portland, however, is sadly absent from this year's schedule.
I know that's inherently a myopic generalization. There are a ton of great new bands in Portland, most of which I'm likely not aware of (yet), and some of which are playing this year's festival. But Soft Skills' brand new record, A Future To Remember, (which is probably also the title to the best Steven Seagal movie from 1993 that doesn't actually exist) has done something remarkable to me: it has made me legitimately excited about local music again. It has stirred my cynical, static spirit. It has inspired me and made me feel, which are the elusive criteria that motivated me to start listening to records in the first place.
The entire record sounds as if guitarist/songwriter Kyle Parisi (who along with drummer Phil Cleary, plays in the similarly excellent but generally mathier, less accessible Duck. Little Brother, Duck!) attempted to create that one obscure, nonexistent Jade Tree release he wishes he would have stumbled across in his formative years. Adulation of classic emo—likely as an extension of this general wave of '90s nostalgia— has totally infected Tumblr culture, and this record occupies the absolute apex of that resurgence. Seldom is emo executed with this much purity and precision in the year 2013. And in many respects, Soft Skills are even better than their '90s antecedents.
So while I'm staggering home from this week's festivities exhausted and only partially cognizant, I'll probably be listening to A Future To Remember at a painful volume, and I wholeheartedly recommend you do the same. There's a good chance it will move me to tears. It's been awhile, after all. [A Future to Remember is streaming on Bandcamp.]
In 2011, for a story on Group Doueh, I ended ended up interviewing Sublime Frequencies co-founder and part-time Portland resident Hisham Mayet. Enamored as I was with Doueh, I came away even more interested in Mayet.
He's got one of the coolest jobs ever: Approximately six months each year, Mayet travels the globe particularly Africa, on the hunt for great bands to share with the rest of the world. Since the early '00s Mayet has been integral to the international success of many, including Omar Souleyman, Bombino, and Group Inerane. In musical terms, when it comes to opening ears, Mayet is one of the most influential Portlanders ever.
But Mayet is more than a guy running a label. He's a modern-day Alan Lomax, trekking to far-out locales, focused on field recordings moreso than pushing artists into studios. A lot of that archival work includes video as well. Indeed, Mayet's been shooting since the beginning.
Which brings us to the this weekend's offering: a screening of Mayet's latest film, Vodoun Gods on the Slave Coast. A brief overview:
Hisham Mayet’s exploration of West African possession ceremonies continues in Benin. Benin is the cradle and birthplace of Voodoo. Formally known as the Slave Coast as, most of the slave industry was exported from its shores. Voodoo worship is integral to the every day lives of the people of Benin. This film, shot in 2010 during the country’s rich Vodoun celebrations, is an impressionistic lens on the myriad ceremonies that this rich and diverse culture has to offer. Showcasing intimate observations of a variety of Voodoo ceremonies: The cult of Sakpata (god of Pestilence and healing), Egoun dramas shrouded in magisterial costumes and the Secret Police of the Zangbeto night watchmen, among other highlights.
After Vodoun, Mayet will screen The Divine River, which boasts a "new and final cut." Also, he'll take questions. All together, the program is expected to run about two hours.
Anne-Marie Sanderson w/Denim Wedding at the Waypost, 3120 N Williams, Sat April 13, 8 pm, free, 21 & over
I Left You, Still in Love is a free download on Bandcamp right now, and is a great introduction to a worthwhile new songwriter in town. Bacior says that she left New York and sold all her furniture in order to make this EP happen, which seems like a raw deal for her, but a great deal for us. At any rate, Portland is her home now, which is terrific news. Bacior is currently wrapping up a West Coast tour, but she returns to home this Sunday, February 24 to perform at the Waypost (3120 N Williams) on a bill with LEO and Donovan Edwards. That show is at 8 pm, and will be eons better than watchng Seth MacFarlane host the Oscars.
Here's the new video from Johnny Marr, who some people know as the legendary UK guitarist from the Smiths. You, however, know Marr as a local face around town—he's been a Portland resident since 2005—and as sometime guitarist for Modest Mouse and the Cribs. "Upstarts" is the first single from his solo debut album, The Messenger, which comes out on February 26. He recorded it in his original hometown of Manchester and also in Berlin, and if this track is any indication, it'll exhibit big, brash pop songwriting with Marr's stylish and influential guitar work.
There's a new band in town, and they're not afraid to use leg warmers. Let me introduce you to Minden, a band that recently relocated here from Kansas City in June, and they've brought with them a fine new record. Exotic Cakes comes out next month, and it's a mellow-gold dance pop record, centered around strong songwriting and a wry sense of humor—evidenced in the spandex dream of their video, for "Gold Standard," above. If you like bearded men in body stockings, acoustic ceiling tile, or just plain sexy, this video is for you.
You can hear another track from Minden over on Bandcamp, as well as nab a glance at their album cover (it includes bush); Minden is already making great sounds, and we're happy to have them here. Get to know Minden in person at Exotic Cakes' release show at the Doug Fir on Thursday, September 13.
Summertime might be half over, but that just means it's the the part of the summer to go fucking big or go home. Don't be a dumbass: throw a party.
Now, DJs are expensive and can be a bit temperamental. But fret no longer, 'cause we have a solution to your bass dillema. Enter: the Lean Team, AKA local producers Stewie Villain and DJ Fatboy (not to be confused with the Mercury own Fatboy Roberts—little known fact: this Fatboy is Kreayshawn's touring DJ). These beat junkies have put together a compilation of inventive heavy-bass mashups featuring names all over the rap game.
Your guests will probably be:
2) Saying "Did they really just do that to that song?"
3) Bobbing back and forth
If parties aren't your thing, it sounds decent in a pair of headphones as well. Either way, get it started.
You can see Stewart Villain tonight at Crown Room and at Rotture on Saturday, August 18. You can maybe see DJ Fat Boy on Jimmy Kimmel next month?
For episode one, Marina invited Austin songwriter Bob Schneider into her
house top-of-the-line, state-of-the-art recording studio here in Portland for an hour of conversation about life, love, music, sex, and why Schneider likes to draw dicks on everything. (Actually, I'm not sure if we get to the bottom of that one.) It sees Marina, who's now a full-time singer/songwriter, going back to her roots as a radio DJ and putting on her interview cap—check it out over on Anya's site, or listen to it below:
Cynic's New Year—which one is that again? Doesn't that one come between the Year of the Rat and the Year of the Bearded Toad?—is the Portland group's fourth full-length. It's a 12-song collection produced by Point Juncture, WA's Skyler Norwood, whose recent credits include Blind Pilot and Talkdemonic. The album sees Horse Feathers, based around the duo of songwriter Justin Ringle and violinist Nathan Crockett, augmented by 11 other musicians, giving their stark, haunting folk sound a lush backdrop, including French horn, bells, banjo, and
electric-chainsaw feedback other stringed instruments. You can hear a track off the album, "Fit Against the Country," by moseying on over to Horse Feathers' site and getting on their mailing list.
Full tracklist after the jump!
Perennial Portland rock trio Wow & Flutter know a thing or two about craft beer. Living in the land of small brews, the band took it upon themselves to get into the mix with a brand new EP/Imperial ale called "Double Deuce." It goes like this: Buy a 22 oz. bottle of the specially made beer from Alameda Brewing either at local stores or shows, and get a code for a download of the band's new five-song EP.
As far as ingenious ideas go, this one takes the keg. But, it does leave me with a few questions. Luckily, Wow & Flutter were happy to provide the answers. Read on to find out the inspiration for and benefits of a beer-centric release. And get your hands on the new EP at Wow & Flutter's upcoming release show January 28 at Kelly's Olympian.
Our city's most festive collective, Pancake Breakfast, has a new single for this young, new year, and hey! It's about the city where you live!
"PortlandtownUSA" (my spellcheck does not recognize "PortlandtownUSA" as a word—however, my spellcheck also does not recognize the word "spellcheck") is a one-off from Mike Midlo and the Pancakers. ("Pancakers" too? Jesus, spellcheck.) After a hymn-like intro, it turns into a rowdy boot-stomper with folk, country, and mariachi influences. True to the nature of its Portland subject, clouds and rain play starring roles.
The "PortlandtownUSA" single is up on Bandcamp right now and will be available via other digital retailers on January 17. In the meantime, Pancake Breakfast play a release show at downtown jazz club Jimmy Mak's (221 NW 10th) on Friday, January 13 and then embark on a national tour, where presumably Midlo will, nightly, be singing this song that's about wanting to come home.
David Letterman loves Portland.Actually, judging by his intro, I believe that he does! And he apparently loves Mount Hood, too.
Blitzen Trapper played on his pretty famous television program yesterday evening, and this is what it looked like. Fun fact: Blitzen Trapper did indeed play their first show on Mount Hood, although unlike Dave says, it's only a bit over 11,000 feet (not 14,000). The local lads kick out some good ol' fashioned rock jams here, in front of all of America. It's good stuff.
For our newest edition of RIYL (that's an acronym for "recommended if you like"), we're turning over control of End Hits to the sons and daughters of Grandparents, one of Portland's most promising up and coming acts. Their outstanding new record Sugar Beach is a banquet of experimental rock motifs, with representation from five musical food groups: shoegaze, krautrock, garage, tropicalia, and all things psychedelic. Because each member brings such a variety of ingredients to the table, End Hits asked them to share some favorites from their eclectic recipe books.
Check out Grandparents' new single "HeadCleaner" below. Then, after the jump, you can read about and listen to some of your Grandparents' favorite music, including Comus, Caetano Veloso, and Belong.
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