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Friday, February 28, 2014

Introducing: Phantom Ships

Posted by Ned Lannamann on Fri, Feb 28, 2014 at 1:09 PM

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Tomorrow night (Saturday, March 1) marks the first-ever show from Phantom Ships, a new four-piece whose members include Steve Turner (Mudhoney) on 12-string guitar and vocals, Evan Railton (Swords, Blue Giant) on drums, James Adair (Dolorean) on bass, and Matt Brown playing six-string guitar and singing lead. Brown, of course, is one of the dudes behind the Bunk Sandwiches empire as well as Bladen County Records. He also for many years played in North Carolina band Ashley Stove, who released some albums on Merge Records.

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.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The von Trapps Have Recorded an Album with Pink Martini

Posted by Ned Lannamann on Tue, Jan 14, 2014 at 10:27 AM

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Look. We here at the Mercury love the von Trapps—unabashedly, unashamedly, unreservedly. The von Trapps are, of course, the great-grandchildren of Captain and Maria von Trapp, whose story you know from The Sound of Music. It turns out the four siblings (Sofia, Melanie, Amanda, and August, all ages 19-25) currently all live together in a house here in Portland—that would be the best reality show ever—and have performed frequently onstage with Pink Martini. Now the von Trapps have teamed with Pink Martini for their first major international album. It's called Dream a Little Dream, and it was recorded here in Portland at Kung Fu Bakery Studios with producer/engineer David Friedlander; it comes out March 4 on Heinz Records, Pink Martini's label.

...I love you, Charmian Carr.
  • ...I love you, Charmian Carr.
There are some notable guests on Dream a Little Dream, including Wayne Newton, Jack Hanna, and the Chieftains, yeah yeah blah blah, but most notable-est of all is an appearance by Charmian Carr. YES, the Charmian Carr, who played Liesl in the The Sound of Music movie. Carr sings on a song from The Sound of Music, of course ("Edelweiss"), and "Lonely Goatherd" is also on the album, because how could it not be. Other tracks include three songs written by August von Trapp, and tunes from Rwanda, China, Sweden, Bavaria, and Japan. I'll post the album cover and track list after the jump.

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.

Continue reading »

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Introducing Soft Skills, Your New Favorite Band

Posted by Morgan Troper on Wed, Sep 4, 2013 at 10:13 AM

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As I sit here writing this, I'm gearing up for what will inevitably be a pretty overwhelming MusicFestNW. PDX Pop Now is at least contained; MFNW is, by comparison, inescapable. It's a Pandora's box of national and local talent. After it's all over, you'll never have to go to another show again.

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.]

Friday, June 7, 2013

Hisham Mayet's Latest Film Screening Sunday at Hollywood Theatre

Posted by Andrew R Tonry on Fri, Jun 7, 2013 at 11:44 AM


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.

It all takes place as part of the XRAY Fest on Sunday, June 9, at the Hollywood Theatre (4122 NE Sandy) at 7 pm. Tickets are $8 and you can get them here.

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Friday, April 12, 2013

Anne-Marie Sanderson: New EP and Release Show

Posted by Ned Lannamann on Fri, Apr 12, 2013 at 1:35 PM


Anne-Marie Sanderson is a singer/songwriter who comes from far-off lands—Britain, originally, with time in France and the Swiss Alps. She's in Portland now, which is not nearly as exotic, although Oregon cheese can be quite good. Perhaps even more important than cheese, Anne-Marie is releasing her new EP Eloquence at a show tomorrow, Saturday April 13, at the Waypost (3120 N Williams). Sanderson hand-printed and assembled 300 copies of the EP and did the hand-carved linocut that appears on the cover as well. Take a listen to the EP's fine first track, "Follow You," which exemplifies her songwriting ability and her appealing, self-taught finger-picking guitar style.

Anne-Marie Sanderson w/Denim Wedding at the Waypost, 3120 N Williams, Sat April 13, 8 pm, free, 21 & over

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Robin Bacior: A New Voice in Town That's Worth Knowing

Posted by Ned Lannamann on Thu, Feb 21, 2013 at 1:46 PM


Robin Bacior moved to Portland not long ago. The California native arrived here after living in New York, and she has a new EP of material that came out earlier this month. I Left You, Still in Love is a dazzingly good collection from the songwriter, with Bacior trading off on guitar and piano with subtle backing from Dan Bindschedler on cello and Josh Besserman on drums. Her folk songs seem like they inhabit a variety of rooms, from warm, close quarters to airier passages with crisp, sometimes harsh light. All five tunes are striking, although the most immediately grabby moments are the strumming shuffle of EP opener "Box-a-Bed" and the stacked, rising melody and gorgeous interchange between Bacior's piano and Bindschedler's cello on "Shapes on Seasons."

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.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Johnny Marr's New Album, Song, and Video

Posted by Ned Lannamann on Mon, Jan 14, 2013 at 10:28 AM

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.

Friday, August 10, 2012

New Band in Town: Minden

Posted by Ned Lannamann on Fri, Aug 10, 2012 at 1:04 PM

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.

Throw a Summer Party and Play the Lean Team's Mixtape

Posted by Lex Chase on Fri, Aug 10, 2012 at 11:57 AM

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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:
1) WOOOOing
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?

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Listen to the First Episode of PDXOXO with Anya Marina

Posted by Ned Lannamann on Tue, Jun 12, 2012 at 10:06 AM

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The inaugural episode of Anya Marina's new podcast, PDXOXO with Anya Marina, is up! It's the first in what Marina is planning as a series of in-depth interviews with musicians, comedians, artisty types, and other people of note, both from here in Portland and elsewhere. She hosted a live edition of the show at the Doug Fir back in May (and more of those live editions of PDXOXO are in the works), but now the first podcast is up and ready for listening ears.

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:

PDXOXO with Anya Marina, epi. 1 Bob Schneider (6.10.12) by AnyaMarina

Monday, February 6, 2012

Horse Feathers Announce the Details of Their Fourth Album

Posted by Ned Lannamann on Mon, Feb 6, 2012 at 12:13 PM

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That there is the cover of the new Horse Feathers album, which comes out on April 17 on Kill Rock Stars. As you can see, the record is called Cynic's New Year, and as you might not be able to see, it is "by Horse Feathers with help from some various other folks." (That's the small print on the cover.)

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!

Continue reading »

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Interview with Wow & Flutter

Posted by Charlie Swanson on Tue, Jan 24, 2012 at 6:30 AM

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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.

Continue reading »

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Pancake Breakfast Sing About the City Where You Live

Posted by Ned Lannamann on Wed, Jan 4, 2012 at 12:55 PM

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.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Here's Video of Blitzen Trapper on Letterman

Posted by Ned Lannamann on Fri, Dec 9, 2011 at 11:48 AM

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.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

RIYL: Grandparents

Posted by Chris Cantino on Thu, Dec 8, 2011 at 2:27 PM

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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.

Continue reading »

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