Friday, June 7, 2013
Just had give you a quick update on what's happening in this NW hip hop scene.
First up, check out the new ad from Samsung for their new Galaxy S4 cell phone featuring music from Portland's own Chicharones (Sleep of Oldominion and Josh Martinez). You can hear them live at the station on Welcome to the Neighborhood coming up June 18th!
Also doing things with the visuals, here's a feature from Neighborhood resident Th3ory Hazit on the art of digging.
Check out the new central location for upcoming guests on the radio show, podcast links, appearances and some new things happening in the hip hop community at www.djklyph.com
Until next time,
Thursday, May 23, 2013
Been a long while. Last time I was at Kelly's Olympian was New Year's Eve 1992 to see the Fastbacks and...oh, y'know what? Let's just not talk about that night. Less said the better, really, ahem. But that aside, it is indeed a happy circumstance that brings me back to this vintage downtown mainstay as I've been generously invited to enjoy some promising Australian psych, namely The Laurels. One of the things I love about the Portland club scene, you never know who's going to pop up on the gig radar and where. The opportunity to see a band the reputed caliber of The Laurels, at a relatively intimate venue like Kelly's, well that wasn't something I could live with missing.
First, though, there's the (not so) small matter of Miracle Falls. Not knowing the name previous to their appearing on the bill, I did a bit of digging to prepare for the show and whattaya know, this is the new project of now-Portland resident Paul Dillon, ex-member of Sparklehorse, Mercury Rev and Longwave (all outfits well represented in my stacks at home), sporting, according to their Twitter page, members of the Dandy Warhols, the Rev, Brian Jonestown Massacre and the Warlocks. Quite the parentage, and again I'm in thrall to what's possible on a lovely Thursday night in May in a small downtown Portland drinking establishment. Proves it's good to do some research prior to arriving, too, so you don't miss what you might regret missing. And you would have regretted missing Miracle Falls.
Immediately effecting, their lineage jumps out at us off the stage, the first song chock-a-block with the aching Americana emotions of, yes, Sparklehorse if Mark Linkous had a more resilient garage soul. Next song arrives with a bit more blast, a sound infectious enough to draw a dozen more punters in the door, harmonic, rich and plaintive. There's a level of quality (with a charmingly rough edge) that is unheard of this time of night on a somewhat modest bill like this. I'm not surprised, of course, due that spot of homework I've done, but I can only imagine the surprise for the unsuspecting. I almost envy them, as it's one of those dreams we all carry around, happening unbeknownst upon a band like this, in this case one that could be The Replacements playing shoegaze Byrds, with all the mesmerizingness that implies. The young woman guitarist (she's not a listed member of the recording band, so far as I can find out) keeps stringing out these melodic solos, Dillon's hollow-body takes up the rhythmic chime and churn while the rhythm section sits in a pocket deep enough to park your car in. (on record that would be bass player Collin Hegna of BJM and MercRev's drummer Grasshopper. Don't know that that's the case tonight)
Third song begins like a wigged-out raga before evolving into a mid-tempo bar rocker with an insistent, itinerant rhythm that nearly spins into one of those abandoned grooves Rocket From The Crypt were so well known for, before getting ahold of its own collar and settling to a close. The band's impressive but loosely-jointed pedigree shines throughout their set. It comes as no shock when Dillon steps out for a Blasters-worthy solo nor when the fifth song in the let launches off a looped guitar sample. The four of them have a wide range of experience behind them and use every tool they've accumulated. Hell, at one point I'm even reminded of Aztec Camera rocking a Memphis stage, which is a damned fine hybrid indeed.
So, I talk to Laurels guitarist Piers before the show (who wouldn't have looked out of place in the Undertones, btw), ask him how the hell they can afford a tour like this. Well, he tells me, they gigged furiously in Oz, saved up, and here they are, a treat for any and all psych-heads here in PDX. Plus? Once they return home they'll apply for a (wait for it..) government grant that supports Australian touring bands. 'Wow!,' you're saying, 'Wow! What an enlightened policy.' How right you are. Sigh.
Assuming you've recovered from that, we can move on to the performance itself. First off, there are two motherboards of pedals and buttons set up stage right and left, looking like Skylab dropped a couple panels before crashing into the Pacific. Second off, this is one of the most unassuming bands I've seen in a while, by which I mean to say there appear to be no rock star trappings, no egos, just a genuine drive to drive us mental with an unpretentious psych pop bliss.
Set up: Fender Jazzmaster, Fender bass, Rickenbacker, basic drums then BOOM! I instantly think 'Remember that time you did acid in the garage?' Well, not really, but if I had, this would have been the soundtrack. There's a heavy mash, they're loud and fuzzy in all the right ways, at just the right volume (loud; did I already say that?) and they flange with indomitable panache. Bass player, who looks a mix of Graham Nash and Levon Helm, plays with a kind of Jack Bruce-slash-punk authority.
Inevitably The Laurels come with a a well-worn intensity. It's easy to tell that they've been gigging heavily before passing through customs into the US. The third song (hey, I wasn't able to score setlists like I normally try to do) goes beyond pure heavy psych and lapses into Swervedriver territory, all linear trance and blended volume before Piers lets howl a feral vocal yowl - something about fire - and we're back on lysergic tribal land. Straight out of that it's into the Seedsian Nuggets patch, pushing just enough too hard to make the paint begin to peel, the floorboards warp. Somewhere in the stratosphere Sky Saxon is smiling big time while Roky Erickson is reminiscing 'I remember when I could do that.'
The whole set I'm thinking about how every year I'm envious of friends down Texas way that get to attend the Austin Psych Fest and how, for tonight anyway, they get to be jealous of me. The Laurels at Kelly's Olympian! HA! Beat that!! Especially during the last song played tonight, wherein a serious amount of thrash, abandon and histrionics makes for a classic - and memorable - outro. I walk out shimmering, thanking The Laurels, thanking the Australian government, and thanking whatever it is that's in the water down there.
(note: The Dandeylions were third up tonight but your humble scribe was unable to stay due to a conflicting commitment)
Posted by Dave Cantrell at 9:24 PM
Saturday, May 4, 2013
Recently my man Serge Severe passed through with producer 5th Sequence to talk about the release of his latest project Boom Bap and Bars Vol. 1
While Serge was visiting KZME, he dropped this verse, one of the dopest live performances on Welcome to the Neighborhood to date:
I also had a chance to host local MC Madgesdiq after seeing him perform during the Soul'd Out Music Fest. Had a great conversation during the show and he even hung out at the station to chop it up after the broadcast. He gave me a chance to play a number of tracks from his upcoming mix tape project "Introducin' Antoine Terrell", and we played tracks from his latest full length project Rastamerica. Be sure to stay up to date with him via the website www.madgesdiq.com
Festival time is kicking off with the nicer weather, and I'll have some announcements regarding upcoming events related to KZME and the local hip hop community, so stay tuned! Remember there are a number of ways to do that besides the blog including:
Until next time,
Friday, April 19, 2013
I'll say this about the Doug Fir, they're prompt. After a spot of confusion at the box office, I arrive on the floor at 9:08 and Minneapolis up-and-comers Night Moves are already a song into their set. The first couple of impressions are, naturally, visual: singer/guitarist John Pelant's space-age, gaffer-taped guitar cord and the dapperness of bass player Micky Alfano that brings to mind a young Rick Danko. The former is anomalous, the twisty silvery appurtenance that resembles nothing so much as a tube swinging off the side of the robot in Lost In Space could not be contextually further from the hit-ready countrified soul filling the friendly timbers of the Doug Fir. The latter, however, is much nearer the mark, as the Band is certainly a reference point here, if only glancingly, though on "Old Friends" the hit is more direct, replete as it is with a least a cousin to Robbie Robertson's plangent guitar tone coming off Mark Ritsema's hollow body Gibson.
Takes as a whole, Night Moves fall under the Americana heading which is fair if reductive, as their sound so innately expands beyond the boundaries of such that one should at the very least addend the word 'sumptuous' to that label. At first glance Pelant might be mistaken for a lost Gallagher brother but then he opens his mouth to sing and it's more likely he's a lost Buckley, especially on their album's title track "Colored Emotions," the delicate but decisive croon lapping at the shores of falsetto.
"Country Queen" is introduced as their prom song, there's some joking mention of a disco ball but if that's the case it's the last song of the prom, a tune that one could easily imagine becoming 'our song' for any number of young couples draped over one another at the Elks, its all yearning and love-declarative and has 'pop-soul classic' written all over it, albeit with the e'er present country-tinged lilt.
Genre-labeling aside, at the end of the day Night Moves are simply superior song stylists, there's an effortless sheen of classicism hanging over virtually every song like a golden radio haze. As an ensemble it's quite clear they've been playing together solidly for a few years (since 2009, to be encyclopedic about it) but also that they meld together in that seamless way as bands do that are meant to be.
As the set proceeds through "Horses" with its touch of Dark Side Of The Moon-era Pink Floyd creeping in towards the end, through "Classical Hearts" with more of those Band-soaked tough-angel vocals, I keep coming back to the sultry soul notes that flavor nearly every song regardless of other ostensible influences and think Too bad Al Green producer Willie Mitchell ain't around any more.'
A swinging light bulb projected on the back screen and the obligatory 'Hello Portland!' shout herald the arrival of Django Django. By this point the venue is well-sardined and your intrepid correspondent has retreated to the safety of the bar's far corner for the sake of scrivener's ease if nothing else, plus I'm afforded a nice, unimpeded letter-box view of the band as they waste no time in winning over the crowd with one of their best-known tracks. "Hail Bop," common sense would dictate, is a very nervy way indeed to begin their set. Lesser bands might save it for a mid-set highlight, perhaps the encore, but Django Django are clearly confident enough in their matrial that they can toss out the obvious crowd-pleaser right off without a worry.
"Hail Bop" and other tracks - "Storm" for instance - on their self-titled debut from last year have drawn many accurate comparisons to Brian Eno in his early solo, pre-ambient period (As if that's a bad thing, one can't help but say) and synth master Tommy Grace bears some resemblance to Mark Mothersbaugh, even hopping about like him, bringing the band's inevitable debt to (a more refined) Devo to the fore, but I say to heck with that, this will tell you everything about how they sound: if there was a band playing the bar on Skylab, it was Django Django. But anyway, regardless of what comparisons get thrown at them, what matters is melody and structure, inventiveness and tone. In short, songs, and Django-squared have them to spare.
When a song like "Firewater" can feature both a faint but insistent echo of cowbell and synthesized handclaps and still drop you dead with a kind of airy singalong funk, well, something magical's goin' on. And it never really lets up. Before "Skies Over Cairo," frontman Vincent Neff shows how inveterate a showman he is, persuading the boisterous crowd to put down their drinks and join in a full extended arm wave thang a la some Egyptian house party.
Make no mistake, these lads may have formed in London but cannot escape the Edinburgh roots from which the band arose. There are moments, especially during "Default" - another ringingly popular selection - that the ghosts of a bagpipe and pennywhistle are hidden in the jumpy jiggy rhythm, reels as interpreted by New Order.
The syncopated groove that prevails throughout their set might suggest an over-reliance on the pre-packaged ones-and-zeroes programmed into the machinery up there but in fact nothing feels rote or contrived. Somewhat coreographed, certainly, this is a performance, after all, but there's never a sense of what we're hearing/seeing as being anything but spontaneous, driving and true.
Thing about Django Django, they emit many slyly identifiable sounds - bit of surf guitar here, bit of Mexican Radio there, in addition to the Enoisms already cited - but it's all hybridized in such a way that the band's sonic profile is very recognizably their own. In a word (OK, two), bloody irresistible.
Posted by Dave Cantrell at 9:39 PM
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Boy do I love this place. Every time I walk into The Know on NE Alberta I pass through a time warp. It's The Mabuhey in San Francisco circa 1977 minus the smoke and grungy bathroom, it's a punk rock club the size of my living room and I'm infinitely grateful for its existence. (And, it being a neighbor-appeasing policy that all music must be over by 11pm, no exceptions, it fits perfectly my, ahem, slightly more elderly status, especially on a weeknight) On this night I'm here to see Portland's rising synth-pop/post-punk band Vice Device play hosts of sorts to three bands from Vancouver BC, which, I think you'll agree, is very gracious of them.
First up is Hole In My Head, a duo churning out raw drum and bass punk straight from every garage there's ever been, songs bursting into being with an often pop-punk drive to them and lasting all of two minutes or so (if they're epics, that is). They could use more seasoning, which no doubt this tour of the US West Coast will provide. Bringing off a full sound with just those two instruments is a challenge, no doubt, but then again it's their shambolic nature that gives them their kick, and in that kick is their charm. Twenty minutes later, by set's end, their sound has merged into a more solid BANG! and the small audience disperses for the bar or the sidewalk outside with a collective, adrenaline-edged smile.
LIE (with an accent over the 'E,' hence pronounced "lee-A") brings more of a post-punk drone to the party, even reminiscent of PiL during some of the vocal-less moments. Two vocalists, both female, one wrapped in reverb, introducing a shoe-gazey element to their sound, the other more grounded in straightforward melodic punk. That echoey aspect, along with (Brittany's, as it turns out) vigorous vox, chock full of conviction and boasting a kind of glassine pitch, actually amounted to what I jotted down as 'screaming shoegaze,' which, besides being a somewhat cagey description of some corners of post-punk anyway, also sounded a helluva lot better than that phrase may suggest. In short, I loved 'em, hope to get some material via Bandcamp or wherever, stay tuned.
Not unusually for the sometimes incestuous punk/post-punk scene in any city anywhere, Brittany from LIE also pulls bass and singing duty in Koban. Sam's the guitarist and the laptop is everything else but don't be fooled, it's a band effort and utterly engaging. This is classic post-punk territory, prominent bass melody, soaring slicing guitar lines, sonorous vocals, all in all nothing less than heavenly to the ears of your humble DJ/scribe. Sonically there's not a little Soft Moon to them, which, if you've been paying even the least attention to SFUTF, you know is high praise coming from me. Melody after bass-heavy melody comes spooling off the tiny riser of a stage, accompanied by those soaring guitar runs and if I haven't said it enough, let me say it again: really rather ecstatic. Yes, there's a fair amount of Mac-enhanced beats and background, but A) welcome to the new world touring-band economy, and B), there's hardly a jot of difference. Certainly it would be more dynamic to have a full band aboard but if the choice is either seeing Koban as a more portable proposition or not seeing them at all because they can't afford to travel with all that gear, well, I'm guessing you know which side I come down on. For better or worse, we're immersed in a digital landscape now, but for me, when the sound is this good, this dynamic, I'll more than gladly take it. Joy is joy, after all, so far as I can tell.
The reason I chose tonight's show over the Arctic Flowers/White Lung show last night (and no I can't do both; see above) is because I love Vice Device and haven't seen them since first encountering them opening for Holograms at Mississippi Studios last summer. Set-up's the same, bass courtesy Devin Welch, two synths (Bobby Kaliber and Andrea K), one of which is augmented by Andrea's alto sax, and a couple of synth drums, all of which may or may not imply a Teutonic edge but indeed it's present, Kraftwerk as post-punk rebels, the motorik infused with the bestial. When Andrea brings that sax into the mix, we're in a whole other contortion of the form, a bit Lora Logic, a bit Lisa Simpson. Whatever, it's a element beyond. You don't expect it, and for that reason it rules.
Besides also being drummerless, Vice Device, to a large extent, are synth-driven - and indeed there's something of the mad sonic scientist to Bobby at times, lost in delirious contact with the ghost in the machine - but with Devin's bass that descriptor becomes something far more primal, the cerebral character of the synthesizers pulled down into the messier, physical realm where the feet and the hips do what comes rhythmically natural to them. Plus, it's not fair to say there's no drummer. Both Andrea and Bobby wield sticks on those synth drum pads with precise abandon and the effect is no less thunderous than if they had Martyn Atkins sitting behind a kit.
If I may say, Vice Device are much more powerful than that first time I saw them. Clearly the eight month interim has been spent with an eye and an ear to broadening and refining and just plain ramping up the dynamic totality of their sound. It's a triumphant appearance and I have a very strong feeling that 2013 is gong to be a springboard year for this still-young band. Portland, I'm tellin' ya, you're lucky to have bands of this, um, caliber playing intimate little venues like this. Don't miss out, it truly does share the feel of what it was like back in the heyday of the late 70s. Check it out, it matters.
Posted by Dave Cantrell at 10:10 PM
Saturday, January 26, 2013
Sandpeople MCs Illmaculate and Only One stopped by the station with producer Lawz Spoken to talk their latest project CHRON Legacy and the album release party coming up in February.
Both Illmac and Only went in live the Neighborhood - check it!
The Portland chapter of Skratchpad is officially in effect. DJ Wicked passed through to spread the word about this new monthly event featuring open turntable, special guest DJs, and a chance to build on the element of hip hop within the community. Be sure to like the Facebook page for updates.
Be sure to keep tuned in to the show at it's new time, 8-10pm every Tuesday for upcoming guests including DJ Flip Flop, Mic Crenshaw, Stewart Villain, Sapient, Ozone and more. In the mean time, here are some more visuals of recent guests.
Friday, January 11, 2013
Low roots riff raff and Wainwright ... a few weekend picks
You have two more chances to see a really fine indie folk band from New Orleans, Hurray For The Riff Raff, in their week-long residency at Al's Den in the Crystal Hotel (Fri and Sat!). The band has loved the attentive reception that Portland audiences have been providing all week. Really ... catch this band. Very compelling take on American roots music from a young and accomplish group - I loved both their original tunes and their well-chosen covers ... here's an interview with lead singer Alynda Lee Segarra and a review of a NY show from last summer ... 7 pm, no cover..
Click here for the entire blog post!
Posted by DenniseK at 4:03 PM