This Week in the Mercury




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Friday, December 5, 2014

Tonight in Music: Portland Cello Project, My Brightest Diamond, Into It. Over It.

Posted by Ned Lannamann on Fri, Dec 5, 2014 at 10:04 AM

(Aladdin Theater, 3017 SE Milwaukie) See My, What a Busy Week!

(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) Read our article on My Brightest Diamond.

(Alhambra Theatre, 4811 SE Hawthorne) Earlier this year, Evan Weiss—whose emo-tinged solo-project Into It. Over It. plays tonight—penned an article encouraging DIY bands to jump in a van and learn from the touring experience. It's an inspirational read, especially after TV-commercial soundtrackers Pomplamoose's recently published look at the (somewhat extravagant) expenses that supposedly led to them finishing a recent national tour $11K in the hole. As a touring veteran who has lived out of his car for years at a time, it's heartening to see Weiss highlight the small battles of getting gears to grind in unfamiliar cities as the ultimate test in shaping bands. He's joined by the fellow road warriors of Buffalo punk trio Lemuria. Guided by the sugarcoated dueling vocals of guitarist Sheena Ozzella and drummer Alex Kerns, the band are the melodic pearl of the hardcore-leaning Bridge Nine Records roster, and a finely tuned force that must be witnessed live. CHIPP TERWILLIGER

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Tonight in Music: Tender Loving Empire, Jane Siberry, Futro Kit 3.0 Release & More

Posted by Ned Lannamann on Thu, Dec 4, 2014 at 2:15 PM

(Tender Loving Empire, 3541 SE Hawthorne) See All-Ages Action!

(The Secret Society, 116 NE Russell) Jane Siberry has found a way to work with the internet and not against it. The Toronto singer/songwriter crowdfunded the recording of her upcoming album via Kickstarter and uses her mailing list to book tours. That's particularly helpful here in the US, where her jazzy brand of art pop has achieved only cult success via her late '80s appearances on 120 Minutes and VH-1, as well as on the soundtracks to Until the End of the World and The Crow. With the help of her fans, Siberry's put together a run of Stateside dates—the "Holiday Hoes and Hosers" tour—that has her doing small residencies in five cities, bringing along a small ensemble and promising special guests. Which means for at least one of her four shows here, she'll be joined by the local celeb that recorded "Calling All Angels" with her in 1993. ROBERT HAM

(Upper Playground, 23 NW 5th) Futro is a burgeoning collective of artists based out of Portland with their feet planted in hiphop culture and their heads floating in electro space. Tonight celebrates their third multimedia compilation, Kit 3.0, with Futro Records artists on "Side A" and local connects and international affiliates on the other half. Futro crew members including Ripley Snell, Abyss Infinite, and Neill Von Tally set it off strong alongside project leader Neo G Yo. The eclectic finale finds local artists Maze Koroma, Rasheed Jamal, and E*Rock sharing sonic space with Egyptian electronic musicians and a New Orleans bounce track. The audio/visual project is being released on USB in an art gallery alongside a new T-shirt and zine, illuminating Futro's forward-thinking vision of how we consume music and art. RYAN FEIGH

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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Tonight in Music: White Lung, the War on Drugs, Hungry Cloud Darkening & More

Posted by Ned Lannamann on Wed, Dec 3, 2014 at 11:54 AM

(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) Mish Way is a genuine rock star. The White Lung frontwoman commands the mosh pit her band summons with a powerful urgency, like a punk-rock Buffy slaying demons of bullshit and patriarchy with her Hayley Williams meets Kat Bjelland howl, and also in her prolific music-writing career. On White Lung's most recent (and totally excellent) Domino release, Deep Fantasy, the band plays menacing, impressively tight and controlled punk songs with a grunge-y rage that feels like a stake through the heart, in a good way. This is what happens when DIY hardcore bands grow out of the basement and get polished: They totally shine. If there's any band that could stop an impending bro apocalypse, it's White Lung. ROBIN EDWARDS Also see My, What a Busy Week!

(Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside) As I write this, there is one month left in 2014. In the world of music, this means the trickle of lists of the year's best albums has turned into a torrent. Over the past few weeks, Lost in the Dream—the third album by Philly rock band the War on Drugs—has been named one of 2014's top three records by four English music magazines: Mojo, Q, Uncut, and New Music Express. What does this mean? No idea. The War on Drugs' significant success in 2014 is hard to parse, not because they're a bad band—they're quite good—but because of what they do: meat-and-potatoes rock 'n' roll with Dylan-esque vocals that deliver wistful tales through a shoegaze haze. This is not trendy music; it is steady yet stylish, and strangely comforting. Lost in the Dream is not perfect, but there are times when it feels that way. BEN SALMON

(Turn! Turn! Turn!, 8 NE Killingsworth) The Anacortes, Washington, trio Hungry Cloud Darkening makes hauntingly sparse dream pop. It's more sweet than sinister, but in their work there's an ever-present feeling of something looming—an unease, an implied heaviness. Imagine Low covering Julee Cruise, or Windy & Carl collaborating with Yo La Tengo. It's gorgeous, but chilling. Hungry Cloud Darkening's new album Glossy Recall, out this month on Seattle's Off Tempo label, is made up of 10 perfectly weighted pop songs that effortlessly ride the sweet/sinister, gorgeous/chilling line. They're perhaps best known as the backing band for Mount Eerie's Clear Moon and Ocean Roar albums, and Hungry Cloud Darkening's music will almost surely appeal to anyone who liked those albums, while at the same time offering something entirely different. JOSHUA JAMES AMBERSON

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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Tonight in Music: Thee Oh Sees/Jack Name, Deafheaven

Posted by Ned Lannamann on Tue, Dec 2, 2014 at 9:31 AM

(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) In addition to being the mastermind behind Thee Oh Sees, John Dwyer somehow finds time to operate Castle Face Records, a label that's been home to a number of inspired and unhinged rock records since its inception back in 2007. Earlier in the year, Dwyer expressed some jealousy in seeing Jack Name's debut album, Light Show, being put out on Ty Segall's Drag City imprint, God? Records. As one of many solo monikers of White Fence touring guitarist John Webster Johns, Jack Name is not afraid to stretch far beyond the comfort zone. Light Show sees the musician blending high-pitched, childlike vocals with swirling, spaced-out sound effects to create an intriguing, narrative-driven album that examines medication used on school children and its harmful ability to suppress imagination. It makes for a captivating listen, and the single, "Pure Terror," is one of the finest psychedelic pop songs to come along all year. Although he didn't get to put out the record, Dwyer's brought Jack Name along for the current Oh Sees tour, which hits Portland tonight for two shows, including an all-ages early set. CHIPP TERWILLIGER Also see My, What a Busy Week!

(Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison) In a short time, Deafheaven has become a rather divisive band in metal's periphery—old-school heshers don't think they're metal enough, while listeners with more adventurous palates appreciate their non-metallic properties. Like Mastodon and Red Fang, the San Francisco black metal five-piece has inadvertently dropped metal into the laps of hipsters—which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Deafheaven's moody, post-rock twist on metal is refreshing, though definitely not for everyone. (Add the fact that core members George Clarke and Kerry McCoy look like American Apparel models and things get extra dicey.) Of course, if you're banging your head, it's harder to overthink it. MARK LORE


Monday, December 1, 2014

Falling in Lovve with Alvvays

Posted by Ned Lannamann on Mon, Dec 1, 2014 at 1:28 PM

Alvvays' self-titled debut was given a proper US release on Polyvinyl all the way back in July, but it wasn't until recent weeks that the Canadian band's glorious, noisy pop greedily took hold of my eardrums/heart and didn't let go. Ben Salmon wrote about Alvvays in this week's paper, and I described 'em in Busy Week as sounding "like Teenage Fanclub and the Ronettes co-captaining a comet," but of course no amount of reading about a band comes close to actually hearing them.

Here, then, is Alvvays' "Archie, Marry Me," one of the small number perfect pop songs released this year. If you've never heard it before, I challenge you to listen to it a single time—no hitting repeat. If you're anything like me (alive human, functioning ears, beating heart), you won't be able to.

Alvvays play TONIGHT at the Doug Fir with the equally worthy (and equally Canadian) Absolutely Free. They've also got a tour with the Decemberists on deck for 2015, and there are eight other fine songs on Alvvays that you need check out.

Tonight in Music: Alvvays/Absolutely Free, Rap Class, Dustin Wong & Takako Minekawa

Posted by Ned Lannamann on Mon, Dec 1, 2014 at 9:11 AM

(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) On paper, the raw materials of Toronto's Absolutely Free are familiar: Their band name comes from a Frank Zappa album, their members from the disbanded DD/MM/YYYY, their sound from the 21st-century digital stew of every-sound-recorded-ever, where unfettered access to the world's discographies is a mouse click away. Their debut full-length, Absolutely Free, includes motorik rhythms, chiming guitars, lo-res but perky synths, and wobbly, Eno-influenced effects on the voices and instruments. It also contains an adventurous spirit and some really terrific songs, cresting with the pair of closing tracks, the relentless and soaring "Vision's" and the slow-building astral burble of "Spiral Jetty." They play tonight with fellow Torontonians Alvvays—whose pair of singles "Archie, Marry Me" and "Adult Diversion" are basically perfect—making this the most exciting show this week by quite a stretch. NED LANNAMANN See My, What a Busy Week!, and read our article on Alvvays.

(The Know, 2026 NE Alberta) Read our article on Rap Class.

(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) After Baltimore art-rock extraordinaires Ponytail called it a day in 2011, guitarist Dustin Wong began churning out solo material. Armed with a guitar, loop pedal, a handful of effects pedals, and the occasional drum machine, Wong mixes and matches brittle melodies and robotic-sounding skronk into dizzying loops. After relocating to Tokyo, he connected with singer/songwriter Takako Minekawa, who found international acclaim in the '90s with her skewed synthpop. The pair released a collaboration on Thrill Jockey in 2013 called Toropical Circle—Minekawa's first new album in 13 years. It only took a year to follow that one up, though, and the duo's latest, Savage Imagination, is a carefree romp that paints in bright colors and lets both musicians' personalities shine. MATTHEW W. SULLIVAN

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Tonight in Music: Ear Candy, Lord Dying, Nikki Lane & More

Posted by Ned Lannamann on Wed, Nov 26, 2014 at 1:11 PM

(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) See My, What a Busy Week!

(Ash Street Saloon, 225 SW Ash) See My, What a Busy Week!

(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) In the past few years, a wave of young women—Brandy Clark, Kacey Mugraves, plus Ashley Monroe and Miranda Lambert and their group, Pistol Annies—have crashed country music with a sound that owes more to the genre's traditions than the junk they're pushing aside on the charts and radio. Following hot in their footsteps is Nikki Lane, a Southerner with a soulful voice (think early rock 'n' roll queen Wanda Jackson), a punk spirit, and the power of producer (and Black Key) Dan Auerbach behind her 2014 album All or Nothin'. Combine all those things, and you end up, it turns out, with a punchy and pristine-sounding twang-pop-rock record slathered in outlaw signifiers and a convincing sneer. Lane met Auerbach when he showed up at her pop-up vintage clothing shop and wanted to buy the 1940s hunting jacket she was wearing. Because of course he did. BEN SALMON

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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Tonight in Music: Sturgill Simpson, OBN IIIs & More

Posted by Ned Lannamann on Tue, Nov 25, 2014 at 9:41 AM

(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) See My, What a Busy Week!, and read our article on Sturgill Simpson.

(Dante's, 350 W Burnside) There seems to be a lot of overthinking when it comes to rock music these days. Austin's OBN IIIs don't think, they just do, cranking out raunchy, in-the-pocket rock 'n' roll that owes a lot to great bands like AC/DC, Van Halen, and even the Runaways. Their latest record, Third Time to Harm, is dripping with primal American rockisms; you can practically see frontman Orville Bateman Neeley III doing David Lee Roth scissor jumps while singing songs like "The Rockin' Spins" and "Queen Glom." It's big, dumb fun, and OBN IIIs are worth an hour of reconnecting with your lizard brain. MARK LORE

(Bunk Bar, 1028 SE Water) It's no secret that Portland bands love to collaborate—and with such a wide sea of musicians to work with, why wouldn't new projects appear like blips on a map? Such is the case for NoLaLa, a new project featuring members of Minden. This will be a debut performance of sorts for the band, who have been under wraps recording. Máscaras, a surf-rock trio and one of a plethora of musical outfits that include drummer Papi Fimbres, will kick off the night. Last but not least, '80s synth slingers Fog Father will seduce with their slow, sultry pop tracks for a well-rounded evening of shimmery, danceable tunes. RACHEL MILBAUER

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Monday, November 24, 2014

Tonight in Music: Circa Survive/Title Fight/Tera Melos

Posted by Ned Lannamann on Mon, Nov 24, 2014 at 9:39 AM

(Wonder Ballroom, 128 NE Russell) See All-Ages Action!


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Tonight in Music: Mr. Gnome, Jeff Bridges, Cold Specks

Posted by Ned Lannamann on Sun, Nov 23, 2014 at 9:34 AM

(Dante's, 350 W Burnside) See My, What a Busy Week!

(Aladdin Theater, 3017 SE Milwaukie) See My, What a Busy Week!

(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) Cold Specks' debut full-length album, 2012's I Predict a Graceful Expulsion, was a sparse, orchestral collection combining elements of gospel, blues, and soul with the dark and brooding songwriting that is the calling card of Mute Records. This hybrid was branded "doom soul," and the album quickly earned glowing reviews and worldwide acclaim. The second Cold Specks release, Neuroplasticity, apparently intends to make us forget all about that first album. Cold Specks, the alias of Canadian-born Al Spx (itself an alias), has a complicated relationship with identity, and reinvention has remained a constant throughout her young career. Where her first album was minimalist, Neuroplasticity is immense, with an assault of drums, organs, guitars, horns, and virtually everything else that could fit on tape. Spx has of late been taken under the tutelage of Swans' Michael Gira, and Gira's influence (and voice, on "Exit Plan") can be heard throughout. The arrangements of Neuroplasticity may be more crowded and dense, but the songs are as dark as ever—if not darker—and Spx's chilling and commanding voice cuts through all the noise like a scalpel. SANTI ELIJAH HOLLEY

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Tonight in Music: Leading Ladies in Music, Avi Buffalo, Fleetwood Mac & More

Posted by Ned Lannamann on Sat, Nov 22, 2014 at 9:17 AM

(Wonder Ballroom, 128 NE Russell) See My, What a Busy Week!

(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) Avigdor Zahner-Isenberg took a disproportionately long time to craft the follow-up to his band's striking self-titled 2010 debut, Avi Buffalo. But if the recent At Best Cuckold has an inevitable tinge of disappointment built into it, it suits Zahner-Isenberg's weary, burned-out-youth songs. "So What" is a bright-morning wake-up call, as sleepy seeds and hangovers are rubbed away in favor of moving into the light; by the time track eight, "Think It's Gonna Happen Again," rolls around, the sun is dipping behind the horizon, and the familiar addictions come calling. There's a guitar-gnarled West Coast psychedelia-lite tinge to At Best Cuckold, but it doesn't feel like Avi Buffalo spent all their time on the tour bus looking in rock 'n' roll's rear-view mirror. Rather, the album's glossy-eyed bohemianism comes across as naturally cultivated and hard earned, as if Zahner-Isenberg and his band have been through all that same shit—the youthful exuberance, the drugs, the sex, the pleasure and disappointing pain—that previous generations went through, and reached the same sad, world-wise conclusions. NED LANNAMANN

(Moda Center, 1 Center Ct) In Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! The Story of Pop Music from Bill Haley to Beyoncé, Bob Stanley calls Fleetwood Mac's story "maybe the most extraordinary and unlikely in all pop." If you don't know why Stanley makes such an assertion—in other words, if your knowledge of the Mac's convoluted history begins at "Rhiannon"—it is time for you go forth to the vinyl bins. Fleetwood Mac started as a British blues band led by guitarist Peter Green; they evolved quickly, churning out some of the most gorgeous records ever created ("Albatross," "Man of the World," "Oh Well"). Green lost his mind, and second guitarist Jeremy Spencer joined a cult; a lot more happened before Californians Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham came aboard in '75. Tonight's edition is the long-running Buckingham/Nicks lineup, augmented by the returning Christine McVie, who was absent when Fleetwood Mac came through Portland last year, and who is responsible for the group's most saccharine mom-jeans moments. Track down the new reissue of 1969's Then Play On and discover why late-period Mac hits like "Everywhere" are fabric-softened fluff. NL

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Friday, November 21, 2014

Tonight in Music: Trentemøller, Zouaves, Ages and Ages

Posted by Ned Lannamann on Fri, Nov 21, 2014 at 8:42 AM

(Wonder Ballroom, 128 NE Russell) Read our article on Trentemøller.

(Kenton Club, 2025 N Kilpatrick) The songs on Hydracast, the second album from Zouaves, hang slightly askew, like a crooked picture frame. But the more you try to adjust them to hang square, and the more you dig into addictive tracks like "Trubaird" and "Wear It Thin," the more you realize the Portland band designed this off-kilter effect deliberately. These guitar-driven tunes are hatched from pop kernels—much the same as Night Mechanic, with whom Zouaves share a couple of members—but they're given expansive, arty leanings. Psychedelic rumblings, tempo shifts, and haunting melodies all find room on Hydracast, and the group, which finally plays a long-overdue release show for the eight-song album, cultivates a smoky atmosphere of strange, nectarous beauty. NED LANNAMANN

(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) Divisionary, the sophomore full-length from Portland pop crusaders Ages and Ages, emerged as an early contender for not just Portland album of the year, but album of the year anywhere, period. As the curtain begins to creep closed on 2014, the band's uplifting cadences and crazy-catchy indie-pop nuggets are still stuck in our heads, and the album's title track is becoming something of a timeless anthem. The band's spent the better part of the year on tour, which included memorable sets at Pickathon as well as a slot at the venerable Newport Folk Festival. Tonight's show—the first of Ages and Ages' two nights at Mississippi Studios—is a diverse slice of the Portland music soundscape, with avant-jazz crew 1939 Ensemble and decadent rock diorama of Hookers. RYAN J. PRADO

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Tonight in Music: Justin Timberlake, Deerhoof, J Mascis & More

Posted by Ned Lannamann on Thu, Nov 20, 2014 at 12:28 PM

(Moda Center, 1 Center Ct) See My, What a Busy Week!, and read our article on Justin Timberlake.

(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) On La Isla Bonita, the 12th album from long-running experimental rock quartet Deerhoof, the band waste no time in diving into their unique and edgy blend of off-kilter pop on the opening track, "Paradise Girls." The song sees the group paying tribute to some of their favorite women rockers. While the Madonna reference in the album title is evident, drummer Greg Saunier cites other heros like Joan Jett, Janet Jackson, Kim Gordon, and Kathleen Hanna as inspirations behind the song. It shouldn't be forgotten that Deerhoof's own bassist/vocalist Satomi Matsuzaki could easily be included in that list of legendary shredders and singers. Along with Saunier, Matsuzaki has pushed the limit on how many ways a band can reinvent itself in the modern era. Unsurprisingly, La Isla Bonita is excellent. It's also one of the group's most vibrant releases in their two-decade-long career. CHIPP TERWILLIGER

(Dante's, 350 W Burnside) I interviewed J Mascis a few years back, and if you've ever watched a video of the Dinosaur Jr. frontman getting questioned, then you have a pretty good idea how well it went. Often when you're interviewing someone, you can leave a few seconds of silence at the end of a question that the interviewee will end up filling, usually with a more interesting quote than the one he or she had just given you. Not so with Mascis. He's gonna sound like he just woke up, and he's not offering much more than two words per question. But here's what I did manage to pull out of him: He prefers playing drums, and he'd rather play with a band than solo. So it's probably a safe bet that putting out a second solo acoustic-guitar record wasn't his favorite thing. Unluckily for him, Tied to a Star is proof that he's pretty damn good at it. MATTHEW W. SULLIVAN

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Tonight in Music: Wampire, TTNG

Posted by Ned Lannamann on Wed, Nov 19, 2014 at 2:05 PM

(Hawthorne Theatre, 1507 SE César E. Chávez) See All-Ages Action!

(Star Theater, 13 NW 6th) LA's Sargent House record label is a reliable curator of good bands that generally live in the heavy/metal/prog/post-rock/post-punk wing of underground rock 'n' roll, and for the past month, three of those bands have been creeping across the country spreading the label's gospel. The headliner is TTNG, formerly This Town Needs Guns, an English band that expertly walks a line between math rock's technical showmanship and pop's soaring melodies on its 2013 album They sound like what would happen if Pinback and Don Caballero had a baby and fed it only emo's catchiest hits. Opening are Mylets, a young one-man band from Indiana whose jittery crunch-pop is full of feels, and Emma Ruth Rundle, whose penchant for swirling, slow-burning epics carries over from her loud post-rock bands Marriages and Red Sparowes into her more subdued solo work. BEN SALMON

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tonight in Music: Death from Above 1979/Biblical

Posted by Ned Lannamann on Tue, Nov 18, 2014 at 10:29 AM

(Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside) Biblical's debut Monsoon Season has snuck under too many radars this year. The Canadian four-piece—which includes Nick Sewell and Andrew Scott, both of whom performed on Death From Above 1979 frontman Sebastien Grainger's first solo record—are hard to pin down. They'll lull you and pummel you, often over the course of a single song. Heavy riffs are met with delicate guitar lines that bring together doom, prog, and psych in what sonically translates into science fiction through a '70s lens. Good luck trying to pigeonhole these space cadets—they're already light years ahead. ML Also see My, What a Busy Week!

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