Monday, December 30, 2013


I have something to tell you, something I didn't remember until just now. Here it is: I have never written about music before. It's hard to write about things you don't know, and while I might know about music as a thing that exists, I don't really know how it's made or how it works. But, y'know, whatever, y'know?

(pic.) BLOUSE, thinking about stuff

Hey, have you heard Imperium, the sophomore album from BLOUSE? You should check it out, man. Especially if you need to buckle down and get something done.

Charlie Hilton's voice floats around in the back of your head for the whole album. She and the rest of the band are trying to hypnotize you with the title track, a steady, dreamy little number punctuated with grindey acousticish guitar noises and a regular ol' drum kit. Drum machines are present in some other songs, but only for dramatic effect. Additionally, the latter half of the album has cellos in it, which is fucking awesome.

The people pictured above just got finished with a tour through Europe and are gearing up for another one through North America, this time opening for Dum Dum Girls. They'll be at the Doug Fir Lounge on August 6th of next year; will you be ready??


(Tour Dates and More Info)

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Who's That Stranger in my Blog?

Listeners and Readers! Hello! My name is Patrick, and I'm going to be dwelling in your blog from now on. I hope that's okay with you, because it's a very nice blog and I don't intend on leaving now that I'm all unpacked. Even if I'm just the Joey Gladstone to your Full House, I'm thrilled to be a part of the KZME family of volunteers.

Whew, okay. Introductions.

What can be said about me? Not much, I'm afraid. I have no writing credits, I don't play any instruments that don't involve hitting things with sticks, and I spend a lot of my free time trying to be funny on raised platforms in dive bars. I'm going to do my best in not trying to be funny in my future blog posts. We'll see how that goes.

As of now, I have a new album to put into my ears. You folks will get to read my take on it very soon. Exciting? Yes, very. As of now now, I am running out of computer time at the library, which means I'll be washing my hands and flitting off into the night. Good meeting you!

107.1FM KZME Musicwhereyoulive,


Sunday, December 1, 2013

DJ Klyph presents... The Movement

Peace world! The Neighborhood continues to grow with new residents every week and the Portland hip hop scene is getting more recognition from around the country.

Since we last spoke, Portland based DJ Zimmie passed through the station for his first visit to the Neighborhood and he brought DJ Excel and DJ Impulse along. Excel and Impulse form the production due Alfa Paare and played an exclusive track "Sylvia" from their upcoming project on the show. We also heard some great stories of the life of a traveling DJ and some of the history of the NE DJ scene.

DJ Zimmie and DJ Impulse
DJ Excel and DJ Zimmie
You can catch DJ Zimmie spinning in your favorite spot right here in Portland. Check out for a schedule of upcoming events and some pretty cool mixes available for free download.

Local journalist Emily Berkey made an appearance in the Neighborhood and flipped the script interviewing me. It was truly and honor to have her as Emily has interviewed some big names in hip hop including Big K.R.I.T., 9th Wonder and Too Short to name a few.
Emily is truly a professional when it comes to making folk feel comfortable sharing their story. She hosted Sunday Night Hip Hop Slow Jams for KZBR FM and you can catch more of her interviews via YouTube: Emily Interviews.

Big ups to Ibeth Hernandez aka Strictly Bizz for continuing to introduce me to good musicians and great people. Soar Losers made an appearance in the Neighborhood and man what a good time. The crew consists of Neighborhood resident Stewart Villain and first time visitors Myke Bogan, Manny Monday and Tre Redeau. 

The crew was thick that night and even though it was the first visit for a number of these guys, it felt like family for real. We played exclusive material from Manny, took the greatest number of callers in WTTN history from people showing love to Myke [and the crew] and continued the tradition of of artists doing live verses on the air. Peep the clips:

Myke Bogan made a major announcement while on the show, he's re-releasing Pretty Hesh and this time including two new tracks including a Stewart Villain remix of Kushberry Pancakes!

Remember you can always catch any episodes on WTTN that you may have missed or just want to re-experience via the podcast an

Coming up on WTTN Neighborhood residents TxE will spend a couple of hours playing beats and talking about their latest project TxE vs. PRTLND which features G_Force flipping samples of some of Portland's favorites indie rock bands and MCs Tope* and EPP effortlessly spilling rhymes. Tune in this coming Tuesday December 3rd - a good time is promised.

Also this month, visits from OnlyOne and 9DM as they are promoting their latest release, Abadawn as he prepares for his west coast tour, Commenter-E passes through just before the Christmas holiday. You may remember he hung out last year and debuted his single "Happy Hollerdays" on the show.

We'll also have Seattle MC and member of Oldominion Xperience calling in from the road as he's on tour promoting his latest release "Revelations" and an in studio visit from Glenn Waco of The resistance. Sending 2013 off kinda nice!

Continue to tune in every Tuesday night from 8-10pm and spread the word.

Until next time!


Tuesday, November 19, 2013


Mark Pickerel, Miracle Falls, Sunset Valley - Kelly's Olympian, November 9, 2013

And here I thought I left late. Nope. Thanks to the benevolent fates it was all green lights and an immediate parking space (quick slide no across Washington sideways into a spot a block away, applause) and I'm camped at Kelly's Olympian spot on nine o'clock, waiting for the festivities to begin but this is a rock show, meaning it may well start at whenever o'clock, which is fine with me so long as it starts at whenever o'clock on the dot.

Anyway, what's brought me downtown on a crisp Saturday night in November is a band I actually wasn't sure was still together. Sunset Valley emerged in the mid 90's back when we still bought CDs, Kurt Cobain was only gone a year and Portland, though cool and attention-worthy, hadn't yet landed the cache to have the suffix "-ia" attached to it. Comprised of Herman Jolly, Jonathan Drews and Eric Furlong, Jeff Saltzman and Heatmiser man Tony Lash have since been added. Sunset Valley issued a handful of albums and singles/EPS that compared favorably with a wave of hook-crafted songsmith-fronted bands that swelled around that time (Sunny Day Real Estate, Matthew Sweet, that whole Elephant 6 collective). By the mid-aughts I don't recall hearing much of them and to be honest I was too consumed by the constant 'everything else' always going on in music to notice. Nonetheless they'd gained enough of a footing in my jukebox brain that when our station manager sent out an offer to see them I pounced. Not to jump back into nostalgia but because Sunset Valley always struck me as a band that brought a constant tide of promise to the table so I'm looking forward to it. First though Mark Pickerel minus his Praying Hands and then Miracle Falls who, coincidentally, played last time I was at Kelly's, opening for Australia's laurels back in May. A good night out coming I do believe

Voice in that Handsome Family range, chesty baritone that sounds as if it could build a cabin in the woods all by itself (it's no surprise that the former drummer in Screaming Trees would sound like that, I suppose, and indeed there's a certain Lanegan flavor to it). Plays acoustic as if he's maybe been classically trained. Songs sway from gothic Americana ballad to country rocker (with floor tambourine bashed at by his left foot in true one-man band fashion) to bar band troubadour sans band. "Let Me Down" easy is an early set masterpiece, starting off as a kind of lover,s lament that switches gears half way to go galloping into an emphatic hollerin' rocker. Haven't ever seen him with his band (don't even know if such a thing still exists) so don't know how this solo turn compares but as it stands now the guy can write a song, not to mention bring it and I mean bring it on a live stage. "I Study Horses" is an impassioned tour de force while in the song following, "Graffiti Girl," Pickerel's voice passes by Matt Berninger without waving, racing ahead like he's afraid of being on fire, his voice roaring with a sorrow-tinged conviction. It's not easy standing on a stage with just an acoustic and your voice but Pickerel's all command and no quaver. Not every song transports, the tail end of the set sags some but I'll still get some place early to catch him if he's on the bill - suggest you do the same - and ending his set with a rousing version of "House of the Rising Sun" only doubles down on that intention.

Well, in truth not much to add to the last post about Miracle Falls except they're all that much stronger now and I'm ready to declare them Portland's best kept secret. I'm also ready to just let the notebook go and enjoy them. There's a 90's indie vibe crashing into the trance beat of psych with shoe gazing tendencies to boot (ha!) which is just too much tangled excitement for me to handle so see you at the far end of their set... 

...and here I am. Let me just say this: finishing off their evening with a mesmerizing, enchantingly jarring rendition of "Venus In Furs" with a Warhol clip of the very recently passed Lou Reed in dark shades drinking a Coca Cola on the screen behind them is a highlight that will be hard to match. It's as moving as it is reverent as it is just scorchingly good. An enormous bravo! is due them and they indeed get it. Go see this band if you get a chance (and here's their website to help you out).

Word was Kelly's was going to be sold out tonight and it would seem it's close. We're not sardined but there's not a lot of space between the leaning waiting bodies as Sunset Valley run through their soundcheck. And then, with a creeping melodic build, we're off and it's Beatles circa the White Album notched up with pure Portland energy, Jolly immediately in control, the audience in his pocket. The Tommy James & The Shondells-meet-The Pixies of "Blanketville" has the majority of the crowd in a collective state of wow and bounce, its refrain of "you make me disbelieve in time" a most appropriate theme to the entire scene of seeing SV in an Portland institution like Kelly's here in 2013. And boy, people certainly remember them, erupting in little knots of joy when this or that song begins, and/or simply thrilled to be in the presence of such an assured, in sync rock band.

Refreshingly, they're not that shy or precious about their sound, allowing themselves to indulge in the tropes of their heyday - clear pop structures, merry melodies, college party harmonies - what could, at the time, have been described as a Pacific Northwest version of Britpop and no one would have objected. Whatever you call it, it's a triumph, we're here to celebrate and we do, from the lip of the stage to the vibrating windows facing Washington. In a way, Portland was a more hopeful place back in the mid-to-late 90's in that the cultural success it's since achieved, where the New York Times can't seem to keep their journalistic hands off us, was but a nascent dream. In that sense it was a more earnest time and Sunset Valley reflect that. They'll bludgeon you with a kind of sonic hope and you'll bloody well enjoy whether you want to or not (how could you not?) Joyous, rockin' like hell, stretching for the high notes, SV are here to represent and represent they do, repping that odd sense of eternal youth that existed then (it was just for a moment, like it always is), an energy matched by their abiding tunefulness, an asset they always carried effortlessly. The band is buoyant, ebullient even, Lash bashing like the zen master he is, Jolly Drews and Furlong grooved together like the three-headed rock monster they are, "Statue Robot"'s in-the-basement boogie like an underwater Cheap Trick (where do I come up with these things? Dunno. Go with me here) is a particular highlight. But here's the deal: if you've ever wondered where someone like the Shins sprang out of, take a ride out to Sunset Valley. You'll find seeds of that stuff growing everywhere out there.

- Dave Cantrell 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

DJ Klyph presents... The Movement

It would be easy to just point you to my Twitter, Facebook, website, Instagram...

It's amazing really all of the avenues available to get to "connect" with artist nowadays. But on the real, there is nothing like building community person-to-person. This is what we do, peep the visuals:

It's really become a special part of how we work, artists coming through and doing what they do LIVE!

Matty representing in the Neighborhood at KZME.


An artist who really needs no introduction to fans of WTTN - Luck-One

Just two of the artists representing the northwest hip hop scene that you should be up on for sure. Tune in every Tuesday great music and great conversation and you can always join the conversation by calling in or connecting on social media.

Upcoming guests include Emily Berkey, TxE, Mike Bogan, Stewart Villain...the list continues to grow along with the community.

Until next time,

Be blessed,


pets without legs: THE CABIN PROJECT

On October 4, I had the pleasure to meet the three lovely individuals that make up The Cabin Project:  Katie, Adam and Zanny. The band came out to 1071 FM KZME to chat with James Dineen, host of Friday's The Lunch Box, about their new CD, Heliotrope. The project was funded by a call for support put out by the band. You can hear the KZME interview and in studio performance here.

I was immediately struck by how nice all there of them are.  I mean, all the folks who come out to visit with us are nice, but these three were so nice I wanted to ask them if I could join the band and be their new best friend.

I attended the CD release show at Mississippi Studios later that night and what a party it was!  It was clear that I was not the only one who felt all warm and fuzzy to share in the band's celebration of releasing their second album.  Fans, like myself, fed off the great energy coming off the stage as the band performed songs off of their new album and no one wanted them to stop playing.  Don't you just love it when that happens at a show?

Click here for photos.

Here is a video of one of my favorite songs on the new album, called The Lining:

Heliotrope is a never-ending magical journey lead by what feels like a village of people who just know where we are headed.  You can clearly feel the majesty and the down home connection between the words, the music and the music makers. Purchase the CD and listen to it during a blustery Pacific Northwest winter day or during a summer drive to the beach.  You will feel better.  Promise.


Band Website
Band Facebook Page

Sunday, September 8, 2013

CLUBLAND! MFNW edition # 5

Oh hell, I'm doing the best I can. Once again arriving at Pioneer Courthouse Square well into a band's set, in this case Thao and the Get Down Stay Down, I'm there just in time for all of one and one-half songs, but their enough to charm me, those harmonies, Thao's obvious charisma, I'm pretty sure I've missed out on a perfect sunset set from the Portland/Seattle quintet so add them to my list of the gotta-see's, a recurring theme for this year's fest, though I trust it is for just about anyone dashing to and fro, trying to catch as much as possible on almost the least possible sleep. As crazy as it is, I have to admit it's part of what I like best about this festival, the frantic scheduling, the adjustments to that frantic scheduling, the running around. Makes ya feel alive, I tell ya. 

After a quick bite and a glass of spilled water at Ringlers, I'm back at the Crystal waiting on Shuggie Otis, legend, visionary, scion of another legend Johnny Otis. Oddy, in my view, he's on the bill before Charles Bradley. Nothing against Mr Bradley and his many fans, he's a fine musician deserving of his following (one of which, when I was leaving after the set to catch another band elsewhere, was incredulous. "You're not staying for Charles? But he represents!"), but compared to Shuggie Otis? His stature wanes. 

But in the meantime, we're treated to the soft groove soul of Morning Ritual, an ensemble I'm wholly unaware of, an organ-let five piece, two of whom are background singers a la classic Tamla/Motown. The mood is mellow, the bass exquisite. They'll be at the Mississippi Sept. 19th if you want to check them out and by the strength and sway of tonight's performance, you do. 

Oh, and by the way, the Crystal is unusually sweaty tonight, even by their standards, close to unbearable but then again maybe it was that Captain Neon burger? The bite of jalapeno? Nahhhh!

But here's the deal. I take the opportunity to inch up close to the stage to take the above shot of Morning Ritual - not too crowded yet, mysteriously - and, recognizing it for the chance it is - seeing an historic performance of Shuggie Otis from this close - decide, despite the pressing heat, to stay put. This..should be good.

Trumpet, sax, bass, keys, drum and Shuggie on guitar, is that classic enough for you? They haven't even begun yet and I'm already blown away.

Trim and decked out in a black broadcoat with bright white frills spilling out at the neck and the sleeves, knee-high black riding boots and the coolest dark glasses you've ever seen (well, they're not that unusual but given who's wearing them..), Shug's the definition of star power, smiling, a man content with his legacy being finally allowed to flower.

Occasionally funk-tinged blues soul of the very best order. It's no surprise the band on are crack form, but man are they on crack form, in the groove pocket, the horn charts popping, organ providing that smoooove floor (when it's not taking the silky lead), the bass player, as usual, the coolest guy on the stage, the drummer steady-crazy good.

The (purportedly) first-time-ever-played "Special" skips along on a jouncing disco groove (sorry I keep using that word but there ain't no other) that just don't stop, it's eternal in its funkaliciousness.

With "Me And My Woman" we return to the sleek West Coast blues the man made his name in, Shuggie's blue Epiphone cryin' out in a type of pain that can't fail to bring the greatest joy to those down front here.

Naturally there are echoes of Sly, intimations of Arthur Lee & Love, but come the title track from the great 'lost' album Wings Of Love (unreleased for 30+ years, now issued with as a double with Inspiration Information, which I'd hoped to purchase at the merch table but no Shuggie to be had there, sadly), we are talking pure Shuggie Otis, a deliberate, yearning, soul stirrer of a song featuring some of his most eloquent soloing of the night, full of grace and fire and clearly the push-off point for that notorious little guy from Minneapolis that's also prone to the occasional frilly shirt, and there's little wonder Prince took what this guy had started and flew with it on, indeed, wings of love.

Superb, and I'm going to shut up now and just...groove.

I finally have to wait in a line for admission, at Roseland for Godspeed You! Black Emperor, the monumental post-rock titans from Montreal. Nothing serious, ten minutes or so, and once in it's all forgotten. What an astonishingly beautiful racket. Besides being here just to hear such breathtaking noise (and it will take your breath away), I'm also trying to redeem myself for having missed them at the Aladdin back in 2000. There was little excuse for not going that time aside from a sorry lack of initiative, a state of affairs I do my best to avoid these days.

So OK, I'll just lay it out straightaway: this is psychedelic music for the over-stimulated digital age, complet with droning visuals projected on the screen behind them  (makes sense if you were there, all B&W media smears and flashing bits of lost text). Symphonic, hypnotic, relentless, heavy, portentous, restless - sound like I'm describing 2013 yet? Those visuals emphasize media saturation, the sonics ambient overload. Why it's all so beautiful is another story.

Very little compares to this band - Sunn O))) maybe, Mogwai almost (not really). Apocalyptically orchestral with a taste for aching doom and the poignant hope for salvation through persistence, GY!BE are a floating soundtrack to everything that's wrong and everything that's right with the world.

They are wordless but more profound than most any other band by several miles. You don't really need to see this band (which is good, as I'm shoe-horned in at the back), there's nothing all that much to see, no presentation per se and certainly no histrionics. What you need to do is hear this band, stand there and be assailed by a building majesty, a sometimes sorrowful, sometimes hopeful, oftentimes mysterious majesty. All of this is manifested by a guitar, keyboards, a bass player, violin, the occasional cello and a double drummer drama that punctuates the soundscapes like Thor if he'd been obsessed with Wagner.

And then this word comes to mind: elegaic. Something cries in you hearing this band live, even as you rejoice. Sounds pompous but once you hear/experience them, crescendos building, resolving, then being instantly rebuilt, understanding will flow, trust me.

Sadly, by 11:00, my barely rested legs betray me, they can take it no more (absolutely no place to sit at Roseland at the moment; hardly any place to stand). Trooper that the rest of me is being, the rest of me that wants to stay, my legs declare Go home or we're falling off. Not to be argued with, surely. Yet the heavenly noise coming off the stage, riveting, seductive, it's such a marvel to witness as it's being created live and I'm almost persuaded to perservere. Almost. However, in the spirit of 'the spirit is strong but the knees are weak,' I gotta go.

Tomorrow night the finale: Neko Case.

- Dave Cantrell

Saturday, September 7, 2013

CLUBLAND! MFNW edition # 4

After last night's tempest, tonight we're treated to a beautiful summer's night pall hanging over Pioneer Courthouse Square.I'd tell you all about my plans for night four of Music Fest Northwest but I just got to get straight to it. Arriving at the Square over half hour into Dan Deacon's set I find a stuffed patio of folk joyously, unhingedly sproinging around to what's obviously Dan Deacon but there is no one on stage. 

There are strobes and lights a-plenty but no Dan Deacon. Turns out, enquiring of a stranger, that our Dan is down on the bricks with us, jammed against the stage, unloosing some of the slammiest indie techno dance noise ever heard on planet Earth. Frenetic but melodic but pounding and clearly utterly infectious. I don't know that I've ever just stepped into a scene like this, this sea of kids bodies hangs mid-air on Deacon's every beat. Ain't long I'm pulled slightly in then of a sudden, it ends. I'd hoped to catch thirty minutes but instead have to settle with fifteen, fifteen very catchy minutes. Alright by me, I'm now officially primed. Next up Animal Collective. Been meaning to see them for yars and yars. I do make a note to myself though: next time Dan Deacon is in town, get there on time. And with a lot of saved up energy.

Puffy plastic indecipherables on either side of - and behind - the stage. At the appointed hour distorted, f'd-up vocal samples meet up with dim flashing graphics and then the Animal Collective boys come ambling on stage, donning guitars and head lamps. Tripping time!

Somewhat low-key since 2011's album-of-the-year Merriweather Post Pavilion, it will be curious to hear where their power lies. Theirs is a difficult pop, always has been. Woozily angular, swamped at times in synthesizer washes, there's also something so centrally human to their sound, there's the excitement and doubt and jittery wonder and the uncertainty of where your next beat is coming from.

And a beats here are both murky and huge and occasionally crisp just to mix things up. Mostly what their sound is, though, is busy. Not a lot of space in Animal Collective songs. Once they get going they go in several angles all at once, somehow converging into a splendid whole. How they do it is the crux of their success. Repeated motifs dominate, vocals sometimes secondary, backgrounded as if they're meant to reflect our ultimate voicelessness in the face of all the noise going on around us all the time. 

But - and this is paramount - AC are never 'theoretical,' they don't get lost in being analytical, though, okay, 'cerebral' can be attached to them, no point disputing that. At one point I'm reminded of Lemon Jelly, at others (gasp) Vampire Weekend, meaning there's an undercurrent of playfulness in the air here and it can be hypnotic even as that cerebreality arches over our heads in neon splendor. 

Predominant though is the trippyness, music lysergic enough to withstand the fog machines. It's not a stretch to be reminded of Pink Floyd's early years at The UFO Club, though we're more structured here, there's no improv excursions driving into the dawn and here I guess we get to the nubbin: Animal Collective practice the ancient craft of expensive head music within a prescribed framework, each song a psychedelic snapshot, at least sonically.

All of which, come to think, speaks to this time we're living in pretty succinctly. Wanna trip out but not all night, we're too busy, got things to do in the morning.

But boy do they hit complexity's sweet spot and do it often. Not often remarked upon, in fact, is exactly that, the sweetness inherent in Animal Collective's sound. Almost always challenging in some way, seldom do they lose sight of such a central niceties as hook and melody, even if it does frequently sound like those hooks and melodies are coming from four or five different songs all at once. They are in a rarefied league with Dirty Projectors, and as stated in last year's blog post of that show, I've got some prog rock fans that are missing out. There may not be the same emphasis on virtuosity - though these lands can surely play - but that sublimely controlled sense of soon-to-drift-off-the=rails would pull in any Soft Machine fan if only they'd let themselves be pulled in. 

As always I do my best to spread the word and after tonight's performance I'll be even more of an Animal Collective evangelist.

I arrive back it Branx (see MFNW blog post # 3)  discover two things: an unholy face-melting (but in a good way) racket and, I forgot my ear plugs at home. Oh well, I've lasted this long.
Wooden Indian Burial Ground are a kind of three headed blues-based boogie psychedelic animal, a Portland power trio that has no truck with any notion of pulling punches. Whatever the guitarist (it's either Justin, Dan, or Paul; an internet search was fruitless in determining who's who) is singing is surely immaterial, this is raw paint-peeling noise (good thing it's exposed brick walls in here) but truly? They're great, a throwback to the Monsters of Rock of yore and naturally stuff like this is always refreshing at least for a while. I've been here 15 minutes so far and I'm still giddily on board. I'll keep you apprised. 

One thing's clear: I'll walk out after their set thinking 'That was a blast' and too right I'll be. All that said, though, it's not as if WIBG isn't without sufficient tuneage as they decidedly are. Barrage rock as they may be, the Nuggets-ready (better make that Pebbles-ready) hook quotient is fully present.

Another band I've been waiting to see, its nice to check them off the list and they end with a stormer, much indebted to Alvin Lee & Ten Years After, on the one hand rougher and more garage, on the other, the guitarist, midway, abandons actual guitar and twiddles a suitcase of knobs wherein samples of his guitar runs. Pretty damn cool and in the end I don't care where they come from, that boy can play and he's got the jet fuel rhythm section necessary to help propel you right out of the water. Go see them next time you have a chance, just remember your ear plugs.

I'm back in a very crowded Branx in time for Unknown Mortal Orchestra's set but I have to come clean. For one, the pen I had been using since the original faded on me back at Pioneer Courthouse Square, the spare I pulled from my bag, well, I left it back in the car when I was dictating the above paragraphs. So, no notes. And for two: the wall was finally hit (too bad it was an exposed brick one, eh?), the last hiss of steam fizzled out of me and I was done. I sat for a time in the entryway to Branx, soaking up what wondrous last strains of UMO that I could before being forced to drift in a near coma back to my car and head home. Knew it was going to be a test to hit the first three nights of MFNW while getting up to go to work at 5:40 every morning and I'm pleased I made it this far and didn't see the wall coming until I hit it. So, sorry about that, sorry to UMO, but that just means I'll have to make a special effort to see them the next time they play the Mississippi or wherever. But the good news is, I'm all rested up now, just about to head out the door for Saturday night's go-round. Hoping for Thao & the Get Down Stay Down, Shuggie Otis, Godspeed! You Black Emperor. Depends on the lines, depends on the whims of the moment. See you tomorrow. 

Friday, September 6, 2013

CLUBLAND! MFNW edition # 3

Life's got complications, eh? Tonight, night three of MFNW, it's the much-anticipated thunderstorms rolling into town from the south. Originally I had planned on catching Youth Lagoon at Pioneer Square but other obligations came up during the day and I had to scuttle those plans. Ha! Once again, lucky me. I'm sure by festival's end it will be one of the stories of this years happening but frankly? I'm happy not being part of that lore.Happy and dry.

Aside from all that, the choices just keep being rather painful.Using "I like 'em but I've never seen 'em" as my guide, I'm at Roseland to catch Lost Lander, or anyway at least for half their set, then it's across the street for my synth-wave post-punk friends Vice Device. Figure splitting wealth is better than betting it all on one show. Pros and cons to that view but there's no time for that, a dedicated knot of fans are gathered at the stage and Lost Lander are plying them with their unique Portland brand of rocked-up sophisti-pop. What's always attracted me is their gift for effortlessness. Their songs are crafted, no doubt, but they pour forth, Sarah Fennell at the electric piano bringing a classic pop depth, engaging modern Tin Pan Alley fills while putative head Lander Matt Sheehy sings the ache out of each song, at the same time having his way with a miked acoustic. Can't recall anyone getting such a deep bodied sound out of an acoustic before. Whatever the case, it's not a little magical which nea,tly encapsulates the whole pop package these four summon up, a summon, if you will, that's greater than its parts.

When word comes before another new song is premiered that they've been hard at work in the studio, a kind of gasping Yay goes up from the floor. The two new songs do point a warm way forward, a much welcomed proposition on a cool rainy late summer's night. 

Now too quickly scurry across the street. where it turns out, much to my chagrin, that Vice Device have just ended their set. Thankfully, I've seen them recently (at The Know and they were amazing) but regardless I'm sorry to have missed them on the wonderful stage of the Star Theater. Next year, I promise.

At first I decide to stay at the Star Theater and check out Diana because I've never heard of her them and thought in might be one of those delightful surprises this festival is known for. When it becomes evident pretty much within a minute that that's not going to be the case I hightail it back to my car and shuttle myself across the river to Branx. Royal Canoe is playing, opening up for Chk Chk Chk (AKA "!!!," of course, whom I secretly suspected I'd end up seeing) and I've heard good things about them, even posted video of them on Facebook earlier in the day trying to get a grip on where I was going to go tonight. This, as it turns out, was a momentous decision.

With their lowdown solid white funk vibe, the Winnipeg-based Royal Canoe easily remind me of Minneapolis Prince/Justin Vernon-affiliated outfit Gayngs. Slinky, slow prog-funk sex jams, grooved melting falsetto, all of it. In case we ain't getting it, the two-drummer-and-pronounced-bass setup make sure there sublimely gutter level message gets through. Now I wish I just run over here straight away.

Royal Canoe's infectious, swimming and swooning groove is, ahem, having an obvious amorous influence on the couples in attendance. There is, after a quick swivel of the head, a fair amount of grinding going on.

And yeah there's a reliance on effects, on treated drums etc, but the result couldn't sound, and feel, more organic. This sound goes Funkadelic deep at times, a slow dirty funk with a deft touch and elegance, almost, and boy are they sick tight. Royal Canoe. You're going to want to remember that name. 

OK now I'm in place for !!!, and I'm in need of a blitzing shot of post-punk funk, stir the corpuscles, resurrect the dying legs, the recalcitrant knees. And indeed, this is medicine to me. 

Singer Nic Offer has on a pair of Some Girls-patterned shorts which makes nothing short of total sense given his megalomaniacal frontman stage presence, strutting, primping, arms flailing in crazed robot geometrics. In a word, this is MAD! An absolute punk-funk extravaganza! You'll have to excuse me while I just lose my sh*t for a while, phew! (as an added note, it makes complete sense that the picture below is blurry. The guys really are that kinetic)

I've probably told you all you need to know about the band. Oh, the audience? Branx is packed, and the repeat formula here of two drummers, one wild-thumbed bassist and an absolutely stunning guitarist, all wound up in the right places, has the area up near the stage surging and jumping in a gyrating mess of a mass. By the third song with a chorus that is almost certainly "California Here I Come" all is lost, the guitar just suh-LAYS and the handclap funk that follows is almost unbearable. 

There's not a person here that's not amazed and let that be the end of it. !!!? I say add another couple of exclamation marks. I also say it's doubtful I'll be more plain bloody thrilled by a band for the remainder of MusicFest as I have been by this lot. I repeat: Phew!

- Dave Cantrell

Thursday, September 5, 2013

CLUBLAND! MFNW edition # 2

Oh crap, now the decisions of where to go and who to see, who to begrudgingly decide you won't see, begin to potentially bite. Because of circumstances beyond my control, I don't make it out of the house until near 9 o'clock and on the fly have chosen Richmond Fontaine at the Doug Fir. On the conservative side, maybe, choice-wise, but I've never actually seen them before and now's as good a time as any. Have seen Willie read, and until their last album (High Country) have kept pretty steady with them (the drop off on account of just being so busy, haven't heard it yet and it's been two years). It's not just Vlautin's writing, though that is going to be a large part of it no matter what, but the band as a whole are Americana writ sharp and intuitive, they live not inside but with their songs like intimate trailer mates. 'course, I'm likely gonna have to bounce early to get over to the Crystal and, with luck, get in to see Deerhunter, the plum in the night's cap and I mix my metaphors with glee but anyway Richmond Fontaine are about to begin here so let's check it out.

Lined up like the truckers and Monday night bowlers they look like, with no one out front and therefore everyone out front - well, except the drummer - this is communal musical democracy on the brink.and here we go. Being a literary storytelling songwriter, the fact is that regardless of how good the band behind him is, and they're very good, the focus has to be on Vlautin. If you've lived any kind of life at all, if you've ever been young and broke and determined to not care, you've met these people. Windblown, broken but fronting, pride and empty pockets and often lots of drinking and an often fatal fatalism.

The playing is immaculate though. During third song "The Boyfriends," a kind of easy but dark-as-usual country shuffle, the pieces fit together so dovetailingly well it's almost like an illusion. They all seem so relaxed and comfortable up there, Paul Brainard hittin' the light mariachi trumpet like it's Tijuana NW, Dave Harding's bass all soothing and poignant, Dan Eccles' guitar accents like paint strokes and drummer Sean Oldham holding back with an exact grace. You understand why the British have fussed over them so much (considerably more popular there than here). And that's not even getting two Brainard's normal mainstay job as a BJ Cole-worthy pedal steel player, tones sliding and crying up and back like chills up my spine. Great way to start a Wednesday night straight up.

Jetting out a few minutes before the end of the set (voice in back of head "Deerhunter, Deerhunter, Deerhunter), there's a passel of some smart car variety done up all crazy outside, one with Legos hanging all over it, another with Super Mario being played on the inside of the windshield and next to them all a small banner "I heart PDX" and right now, the way that MFNW is unspooling, at least for me but I'd bet for everyone out on the bricks tonight, we're all flying that flag.

The gamble pays off, though there is a scare coming to the Crystal: I pass the side of Roseland and the line stretches around the block. For the second time tonight the phrase 'Oh crap' echoes through my head. If there are that many folks waiting for Chvrches what must the line for Deerhunter be like? But by whatever quirk of fate, as I swing around Washington and onto 14th, there line! I quickly find a place to park and 4 minutes later I'm in the historic bouncy house that is the Crystal and boy is it hot and humid (it ain't the heat it's the humanity). The crowd is healthy but not yet jammed to the hilt. There is, however, a certain palpability afoot. Most here, I'm guessing have likely scene Bradford Cox's lot before, I have not.
There's not a record of theirs that hasn't in some way twigged me sideways (that's a good thing) so I'm thrilled to finally be in their presence. As for the crowd and atmosphere? Winterland 1975, is all I can say.

Lucky me I score a side bench upon which I now stand. The crowd is now substantial and it's even stuffier in here. But screw that, Mr Cox is instantly riveting, a cross, in both stature and charisma, between Julian Cope, Iggy Pop, and Bobby Gillespie. Having not seen them before I'm surprised there are no keyboards, just drum, bass, two guitars and voice. Whoop, the Thin White Rail just strapped one on, make it 3 guitars.

Considering how unpredictable they can come across on record - excitingly so - it's also something of a surprise how much of a bloody terrific, out and out rock band they are here tonight. Dense, with detours into a stroppy weirdness here and there but overall they're, of all things, a poppy proposition, at least within the confines of fringe indie. 

Deerhunter thrive in the Venn territory where primal, sometimes even feral, overlaps with the cerebral, amounting to an emotional/aesthetic covering of all bases. The time signatures aren't particularly challenging but the pure honest intensity is.

Jamming with an extended near-drone groove ain't uncommon, either, a kind of college-aged Neu! before reverting back to a quirky, slightly murky geek sex pop with one of the hookiest bridges this festival is going to witness.

And so OK now I've gotta fold up this little notebook. The colored spots are swiveling music is swivelingly incandescent and I gotta just take it in. I'll say goodnight and, indeed, it's been a good night but let me add this: the beauty and magic of live music - during Nothing Ever Happened, an uptempo, wigged-out, shoulda-been radio hit, my 57-year-old fatigue melts away, just lifts off me. And that's before it takes off into another motorik groove, before it becomes virtually transcendent. And that sort of thing is happening all over town right now, cares and worries and anxieties and even actual years being swept magically away by the lure of great music, which is my unsubtle way of saying "Go see live music, and hey, here's a perfect opportunity that comes around but once a year."

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

CLUBLAND! - MFNW 2013 edition

The first night of a festival has a first date feel to it. Tentative, quietly anxious, bit of a jitter. There's so much expected but it's far too early to give that hopeful anticipation form. And so it is on a Tuesday night at Dante's in early September as a milling smatter of punters trickle in for MFNW's first rock'n'roll show (there's a hip hop showcase up the street at Roseland headlined by Joey Bada$$). We await Portland band Summer Cannibals, who from what I've heard, define the word 'promising,' we await Black Bananas, the latest vehicle for raggedly invincible crusher doll Jennifer Herrema, ex-Royal Trux. And, we await Redd Kross, the band that refused to die, an initial stint spanning 17 years (1980-97) before reforming in 2004 and continuing to refuse to give up, or, for that matter, even grow up. In essence the same pop-punk rocker kids they were when they first emerged, we're here tonight to see how that's holding up. But first the Summer Cannibals.

(oh and by the way we all know its been a monkey summer lately and Dante's is already beginning to earn its name)

Summer Cannibals are immediately, well, rather dangerously good, a Dum Dum Breeders indie melodic drive, singer-guitarist Jessica Boudreaux and guitarist-singer mark Swart trading guitar power runs and sharing some whoa oh oh vocals. Mostly though, this is Boudreaux's show, she's got a tear-it-up, hard/soft rock chick persona it's hard not to focus on.

As a decade, the 90's seemed to leave us with a lot unsaid. Summer Cannibals aren't the first I've seen/heard lately that's intent on redressing that balance, just one of the best. Fifth song in they even hit a chunky blues grunge sweet spot (rough spot?) that would do Jon Spencer proud. Fred Armisen as well, I should imagine, the 90's alive and well in, well, Portland.

Okay, confession: I was never much of a Royal Trux fan. Heroin chic turned on its head? Cool, I suppose, but the shambolic, falling-down-the-stairs nature of it put me off. Jennifer Herrema seems a Nico for our ages, less classically trained, more self-indulgent mess. But, I'm more than willing to let bygones be bygones and give the disheveled queen of chaos a chance.

Well, with the help of a head-bowed, lank haired wizard of a guitarist and a keyboard laptop magician, she manages to sound pretty good inside that context. Her singing, however, is virtually buried and certainly unintelligible, as is her between song patter. Sadly, what she reminds me of is Patti Smith if she'd found heroin instead of Rimbaud. Her bandmates, however, are ace, crack accompanists that bravely hold up each side of the stage while Ms. Herrema gamely caterwauls in between them. At one point a dirty funk is reached for (as are earplugs) and it may very well be reached but if so, so far as the singer is concerned, it's a lucky grab. But hey, again, the two-man band?  Superb.

Well, yeah, we're packed in here now, as well we should be. I've bounced into friends we're all hyped up and ready to bang shoulders together

So we start with a squall,.a playful, kinda quiet one but a squall. But within seconds we're in pop-punk city and it doesn't have to go very far before this formulation of occurs: Slade doing Buzzcocks. It's an equation that won't leave me the rest of the night. Weird thing? They're not, of course, British, but hail from sunny, cementy Hawthorne, California and wear the hippie tresses to prove it. With that in mind, come to think of it, power pop skate punk may also well suffice.

Without a doubt a heritage band, of sorts, but the thing is there's just too much of a sharp (though non-threatening) edge to them to ever end up at Spirit Mountain. They especially escape falling into such a fate since they're, y'know, still putting out new material though in truth it doesn't very wildly from what made their reputation in the first place over 30 years ago. The slightly cartoonish image their music portends, that initially made me shy away all those years ago, is actually they're most enduring charm. You don't come to a Red Cross show looking for enlightenment, you come for a rockin punkish good time and you most certainly get it, in spades, in surges, from the rafters to the soles of your feet. In the end, respect.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

CLUBLAND! MusicFestNorthWest edition

Heads up, everyone!! I'm soon off into the night for the first night of MusicFestNorthWest (henceforth always shortened to MFNW). Easing into it tonight with a show at Dante's (hoping it's not too packed by the time I get there) but more than anything else, just wanted to alert everyone that KZME is ON THE JOB, BOB!! Stay tuned, my friends, and wish me luck. It's six nights of music on the fly, I'll do my utmost to bring you on-the-scene reporting (though, to be fair, posts will appear the morning after) that's rich in detail and puts you as THERE as there can be. Until tomorrow then...

Friday, August 23, 2013

DJ Klyph presents... The Movement

Yo! What's good people!? Lot's going on in the NW Hip Hop community right now. The 3rd Annual NW Hip Hop Festival is coming up and this year's event which is once again sponsored by KZME should be pretty special.

Saturday August 31st at the Blue Monk is the kickoff event featuring performances by NW MC's Serge Severe and OnlyOne of Sandpeople and hosted by DJ crew Skratchpad PDX.

The festival begins the following weekend and this year features three nights of music at two venues! Over 50 acts with showcases from Welcome to the Neighborhood, We Out Here Magazine, Camobear Records, Runaway Productions with performances by Oldominion, Cool Nutz, Grand Royal Beastie Boys Tribute, Seattle's own Th3rdz just to name a few. Hit the link below to find out where to be for the best live Hip Hop in the NW.

On Friday, August 30th the NW Hip Hop community is coming together in support of one of there own. It's a benefit show for MC Libretto and this event should be massive. Featuring performances from Vursatyl of Lifesavas, Cool Nutz and DJ Fatboy, Tony Ozier of the Doo Doo Funk Allstars a set from The Rundown featuring Destro Destructo, Easy McCoy and Th3ory Hazit. This is truly an event to support a community of artists doing positive things.

Be sure to tune in every Tuesday night to 107.1FM KZME from 8-10pm for Welcome to the Neighborhood to stay connected to the movement.

Until next time,



Sunday, July 21, 2013


After a promising first evening, I arrive - again in a timely manner, early birds, worms, all that - flush with anticipation. Last night was stacked with talent leaning toward the electronic side of things (and was bloody excellent, in case you missed it; see post here), tonight has more of a rock 'n' roll, bravura feel to it, with local phenom Matthew Heller, a couple of terrific bookings from our sister up north (that'd be Seattle, natch, and we're talking The Maldives and Rose Windows), Cambodian Space Project from, umm, yeah, that's right, and a not insignificant plum of a headliner, ex-Posie Ken Stringfellow. So, after short chats with organizer Sean Hocking, CSP's Julien, and Dawn and Christian from Das Fluff (one of Friday night's standout highlights), I'm all clubbed up, prepared to have my head spun round how ever many times the assembled performers find necessary and spot on eight o'clock the lights go dim, the stage fills up and off we go, seat belts optional.

Y'know that classic white soul-ish garage band you wanted to form in high school, the one that would write and sing with freakin gusto the kind of songs that should be on the radio, with actual middle eight guitar solos and a Winwood-esque piano? Well, Matthew Heller went right ahead and did it. Heller trades off between piano and guitar - another echo of the Traffic man - and like the era in which that band arose Matthew Heller and the Clever do indeed play the type of unfussed-over, blues-based, four on the floor rock 'n' roll  that one might have stumbled upon in a smoky, beery converted ice arena, say, in 1973, which before you ask is indeed a compliment. Depending on the song, we're thrown back to Detroit, boogeying in Memphis or tearing up the upholstery midway between New York City and Austin. In fact, Heller and his mates make a habit of tearing it up generally tonight, pulling out the stops and going to town. They rock the hell out just like you want them to and there's nothing ironic about it. They. Just. Rock. Very happy I got to see them live at last and I suggest you do yourselves a similar favor: Go see 'em.

Suitably, Seattle contenders for rookies of the year Rose Windows lead us further down the amber path with their psych folk Jeff Airplane take on the same period, though a bit more bruised up maybe. A tight fit on stage, two female singers, one moonlighting on flute, two guitarists, drummer bass and keys, we're treated again to the beauty of unadorned vintage-era rock and roll brilliantly played, suffused with the inspiration of its creation. Yes, there are echoes the raindrop organ of the Doors, there's that great society voice, there are those harmonies harkening back to the days when harmonies mattered and everyone used them - Laurel Canyon harmonies in other words - but until someone can convince me there's anything wrong with echoes like that, when synthesized into such a gorgeous modern whole as Rose Windows bring, I'm going to go ahead and enjoy it if you don't mind. Y'know how certain bands, people will say 'They've really got it'? Rose Windows really do have it. When lead singer Rabia Shaheen Qazi announces "This is our last song" it's far too early for anyone in the audience - which is fairly thick by this point - at least we're treated to the lengthy "Native Dreams" (off new album The Sun Dogs) Qazi belting it out, face-wrapping hair curtaining around, guitarist Chris Cheveyo unpeeling the most ringing, Quiksilver guitar break I've heard in, well, decades. Superb, a highlight, end of story.

Keeping with the Seattle connect and keeping with the timelessness theme plus sticking to the 7-up line-up, in this case three guitarists, bass, organ, drums, and the seated bewhiskered banjo player, Emerald City stalwarts - nay,institution - the Maldives arrive full of bar band fervor, kicking the holy shite out of the joint, injecting punk energy into every gesture and lick of what is essentially an Americana tip. "I'm not used to playing that fast" says lead singer/acoustic guitar slinger Jason Dodson, "it's a really short set so we're trying to pack them in real tight" and he couldn't be any righter. After  umpteen years together this lot is almost dangerously tight, not to mention joyous and unimpeachably rockworthy. Clearly a fan favorite as evidenced by audience-band banter, there's something invincibly comforting about the Maldives, which is perhaps down to the easy authority of their sound, the honest working man's work ethic sense of it met head-on by a fully up-to-date wariness. Too upfront to be cynical, the Maldives deliver instead a deeply effecting treasure of seriously good-time music and are another band I've been hearing all these good things about and finally get to see. What a great live band.

By guitarist Julien's description, singer Srey Thy was so entirely freaked out when she first heard herself singing through headphones in the studio, she fled the scene. There's a little sign of that tonight. Ms Thy has a presence, her arms flowering out beside her and though she's not yet, by appearances, 100% stage comfortable, she is without doubt confident in the power of her voice, a chill-raising instrument that fills the Mississippi like Cambodian crystal in a fish bowl. Glass clear, ranging from percussive to as lyrical as a waving reed, often in the same song, it's what carries Cambodian Space Project whether there's nine of them on stage or just two of them as there is tonight. Singing entirely in Khmer (though introducing songs in a practicing English accent), during a haunting version of  the Sonny Bono-composed "Bang Bang (I'm Afraid Of Love)" - though in truth any song Srey's voice touches has a biting hauntingness to it - the language barrier disappears, and if one wasn't entranced at that moment then one is simply not entranceable.

At some point I have to just hang up the notebook, let loose and enjoy so goodbye to the word for a bit. After the rousing la la la's of, um, "LaLaLa," Srey has become at one with her stage persona, commanding the mic while Julian and the stage-invited Ken Stringfellow and Maldives drummer extraordinaire Faustine Hudson bang an improvised shuffle groove around her that is quintessentially, well, Western while sounding frankly, fully trans-Pacific in scope and spirit. From here on out they rip out a good ol' rockin' racket that Dr Feelgood would be proud of.

Last song "Whiskey Cambodia" is a tough mauling drag tempo blues improv of sorts ("of sorts" because nothing Thy sings is going to sound like the blues blues) that scrapes the gutter while raising the rafters and I am in fact left feeling a little hungover, actually, but, y'know, in the very best way.

Which leads us to ken Stringfellow. Other than the Kingsmen and Nirvana, is there a more legendary Northwest band then the Posies? Great enough to be called upon when Alex Chilton needed a couple of musicians to fill in for those members of Big Star no longer available, it was the Posies he called upon. And it is instantly clear why. Stringfellow sits behind a Kurzweil and stunningly emotes the way only a musician of his stature can, possessing the stage, the audience, the room. But hell, he doubles down by inviting the Maldives back on stage as his backing band and we all collectively melt. This inevitably is a very winning proposition and, if I may be so bold, echoes the very invitation Mr Chilton made back in 1993. 

Lemme say this: there is a lot of joy on stage right now. Due to the pickup band nature of the arrangement, there's the spontaneity of improvisation colliding with the solidity of the at-least-marginally rehearsed, a very fine cross-hair in which to find ourselves. "All Night Long" is an utter monster of collaborative dynamism, Stringfellow more or less howling by the end, the band locked in to his every bandleader gesture. It's a thing of beauty.

As with the Posies, Stringfellow has an unerring ear for the seductive, unforced pop hook, and they leak out everywhere tonight. What an ideal way to put this year's Sometimes A Great Notion festival to bed. It's like you just know you're going to have a great dream, one soundtracked by the ad hoc collective on stage right now. I'll head out tonight a happy guy, but for now I gotta close this notebook and just..luxuriate in the pure pop now, and once again thank Sean Hocking for a sublime summer weekend. Til next year, then, if you have the chance, cheers, mate.

Saturday, July 20, 2013


A year ago a savior came to town. OK, maybe that's wording it a bit strongly but in July 2012 Sean Hocking, ex-Brit, once of Australia and now resident of Hong Kong, staged a sprawling, multi-media mini-extravaganza on the grounds of Disjecta in North Portland that not only brought legendary Saints founder Ed Kuepper to Portland for the first time, he also carted along the Felice Brothers, Peaking Lights, Dennis Coffey and a mad host of others while also engaging a slew of local musicians - Mattress, Zac Pennington, White Fang, Holcombe Waller, Nick Jaina, Strangled Darlings to name but a few. Added to this were flashing video rooms, an art exhibit, a haute naturel fashion show (if you were there you know what that means), even a record sale. To say it was a highlight of my summer last year would be so blindingly obvious I won't even say it. Very nice and sorry if you missed it but...he's back!

Though a slightly more stripped back outing this time around (2 days/nights instead of 2 days/3 nights) and shifted to the Mississippi Studios, the initial evening last night shows our Sean hasn't lost his flair for booking a crazy-talented, varied, and, really, quite sublime night's entertainment. With Pulse Emitter, Pinks Quieter, Das Fluff, White Fang, and Pink Skull on the docket, there was no excuse for being late so your devoted correspondent indeed finds his way Albina-ward by the appointed hour. Sean is outside chatting with Charlie Salas-Humara, who, I'd only recently discovered, is the driving force behind Pinks Quieter ('Can't know everything' I often tell myself but regardless am abashed at not having known about this lot sooner; more in a moment). A committed impresario driven primarily by the passionate need to get the music he loves not only on his label (Metal Postcard) but as well just out there so everyone else can see/hear how great this band or that artist is, Sean, like yours truly, is a bit old guard, grounded in the fundamentals of the  DIY/underground/John Peel school (Hocking is a DJ on the Peel-inspired Dandelion radio), where a sort of music evangelism mixes it up as best it can with market capitalism. Whereas the prospects in this approach of becoming a record magnate are rather slim, it is the only path that allows the type of fierce devotion Sean not only displays in conversation but as well in his commitment to the artists on his label. It also makes for a savvy sense of what works on stage and tonight's a fine example of that. Attendance on the first night was sparse given the surge of talent on offer so I say to you right here right now: DON'T MISS TONIGHT!! OK, let's see what we've got here.

Daryl Groetsch, the one-man band/composer that is Pulse Emitter, has been described as the "undisputed king of planetary scale hypnosis," and I'm not going to do much better at describing the gist of what we're hearing than that. Yes of course it's music, but to be more accurate I'll say it's pulsing washes of soundscape or the emanative breath of the Spheres - it's either and both of those things and no doubt a multitude beyond - ooh, there! That's also what it is, music of the beyond - and it's also a remarkably magnetic way to kick off the second annual SAGN Fest. Groetsch, the Oz in plain view responsible, is the Harold Budd of the future and that future is now. With a persistent subtlety of rhythm, looped beat structures embroidered inside the textural whole like an insinuated pulse and sheets of chthonic melody cascading, tripping, and tripping again, evolving and fading out then rearising as if to prove reincarnation via a slightly multi-phased, programmed synth, it pulls me in time and again. 'Mesmerizing' would be the word were it not so addictively engaging. The early handful of us standing around in a loose tribal trance are the lucky ones, already transported and its not even half past eight yet.

Say, how does experimental funky tropical sound? Well, let me tell you how it sounds: bloody amazing! Pinks Quieter is two drummers (one with a couple of congas appended), a basement heavy bass, a flangeing high life-like guitar, a guy standing behind a little Realistic synth and Moog stack, filling in the sonic cracks, bringing the melody, whatever's needed. Add it all up and you've got a high and righteous racket of the first order. This is punk rock Sun Ra, this is go-go music (the Washington DC-bred Cubanized funk pioneered by Chuck Brown), Portland style, and when the band all kicks in, when Charlie Salas-Humara hits his manic guitar stride, its a noisily transcendent wonder and don't even think I'm exaggerating. Even when a song comes creeping into being, as tonight's second offering does, incipient in it's slowly fraying fabric is a coming fever, a tightly controlled maelstrom of jumping, sometimes skittering, always grooved joy and kick, with a smooth manic improv feel. Out of nowhere Pinks Quieter have become one of my favorite Portland bands, there's nothing like them by a DC city mile.

Portland semi-legends, White Fang is White Fang, an unreconstructed (read: fun) shambles of a rowdy no-holds- barred drunk punk band that is this year's only returning act from last year's lineup, where they just about destroyed themselves putting on a raging show. Taking hedonism to a purer unapologetic level (read: 90's), they couldn't be more of a contrast from the two bands preceding but in frontman Erik Gage they've got a spokesman for a non-generation, he's anti-charisma charismatic if you would and whatever jarringness in the transition gets rolled right over. Plus, oh yeah, their 1-2-3-4-take-no-prisoners recklessness, inside all its crunch and snotty apathy, is an unquenchable pop sensibility, melody keeps tumbling out despite itself. Nothing so well describes what the Fang are all about than Gage's sartorial choice for the evening, self-made denim cut-offs topped by a ripped-to-shit "Yabba Dabba Doo" T-shirt. There may be a cartoon element to their punk but they certainly know what they're doing and know how to shred an audience. Only drawback tonight is a malfunctioning guitar shortens their set, but, y'know, what the heck, they'll almost certainly be back next year for SAGN 3.

'Immediate' is the word that immediately come to mind once Das Fluff hit the stage. Tall yet somehow elfin Teutonic-looking siren Dawn Lintern, resplendent in black faux-feathered headdress, leopard print tights, sequins and lace, captivates from the off. Think Lene Lovich graduating from the Bromley contingent while Christian rocks the hell out of a...laptop? Why, yes, and it doesn't matter one jot, it works, and works rousingly well. "Jolly" (as described by Dawn) song 'Rage' has the singer screeching like angels throwing a tantrum, it's entrancing and un-turn-awayable like that, full of, yes, rage, full of A-side ready hooks, it finishes with Dawn staring icicles before breaking down into a disarming smile. It's clear Dawn gives all of herself on stage here, its her that brings the commanding theatricality, a post-punk intensity with an irresistible soupcon of Weimar decadence. Most surprisingly, most winningly, I can hear notes of (of all people) the Raincoats in her London accent. When Dawn comes down amongst us during 'Lucky Lady,' people actually hide behind their brave companions (even if jokingly) and well why not, the woman is fierce. But as often as not Lintern's voice, when not being dramatic, forceful, full of portent, hits these celestial interludes. Not sweet exactly - bit too spooked for that - but lilting. hypnotizing. Her presence truly is alluring, dangerous, charming, whatever coquettishness edged with menace. Star of the night, there can be no doubt about that, while Christian strikes a stance of Zen poise despite the black Sex Pistols t shirt. Next task for me is to buttonhole Sean tonight and inquire about a CD, an LP, something. Want Das Fluff for Songs From Under The Floorboard post-haste.

Pink Skull are two lone wizards flashing dizzying wrecked mandala graphics, complex programmed synth interplay and a damaged disco slash house rhythm. Ibiza is a Tokyo nightmare, basically, which at first feels a bit calculatedly off-putting but lo and effin behold it soon becomes a seductive miasma of deep grooving, umm, grooviness. Yeah, it's all microchips and well-placed computer effects, it's man commanding machine, but it's nonetheless immutably human, not dissimilar, I should think, to that startling moment when we find out that, yup, robots actually have human hearts. The possibilities of dance in these moments are almost infinite, it's Kraftwerk had they been just that much funkier. It's also an irresistible lure to the kids from the bar, as a trail of them find their way to the living room-like dance floor in front of the stage, Pink Skull topping their night off in style. 

So Sean's done it again, brought a head-spinning array of not-to-be-missed talent to a single stage for Portland's exclusive entertainment. And I'm sorry if you missed it - it truly was a terrific night on the tiles, or, rather, carpet - but the cool thing is, you can make up for it!! Tonight it's Seattle institution The Maldives (woo-hoo! I've never seen them), The Cambodian Space Project (who I've been so very keen to see since Sean turned me on to them last year - you do NOT want to miss them) and..wait for it...Ken Stringfellow from THE POSIES!! See you there, then, yeah?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Local Artist Speaks: WILD ONES

I finally met Jason.

Well, it all started when Jason Quigley’s name came up in an interview with band, Fault Lines, earlier in the day and then I actually met him at the Wild Ones listening party.

That is so Portland, isn’t it?

Last night, I attended the Wild Ones listening party in the Bar Bar apartment (above Mississippi Studios) – that is also so Portland and thank goodness.  What a great band!

Not to be confused with the hip hop band with the same name, the band was named as one of Willamette Week’s Best New Band in 2011 and I was happy to see them in person for the first time last night. I can’t believe it took me that long.

I chatted with the very friendly lead singer, Danielle Sullivan, upon arriving at the ‘invitation only’ event and helped myself to some of the free beer and snacks provided at the party. I was hungry and thirsty!  I also had a moment to chat with the keyboardist, who was quite nice as well. 

The party consisted of those free goodies, including a copy of the new album.  We were also treated to a “live” performance in the apartment’s living room.  The band played six songs, as I recall, from the new album, Keep it Safe.

At the time of this writing, I am about halfway through listening to the entire CD and really like the tracks, Golden Twin, It’s Real, and Row. I can’t wait to hear the rest of the CD. One of my ‘tests’ is if I feel motivated to roll down the car windows and play the music really loud.  To me, that means I am really enjoying it and want to share it with the world. So is the case with Keep it Safe. I’ve already noted that this is one of my faves for 2013.

You can hear the band play music from the new album on July 5 at Mississippi Studios.  It is their release party – My Body and Genders are also on the bill. 

Click here for show info.

Of course, you can hear this album on 1071 FM KZME radio because we are all about playing the music made here and played here, you know.

-- Dennise M. Kowalczyk


Friday, June 7, 2013

DJ Klyph presents... The Movement

What's up party people!

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

Until next time,


Thursday, May 23, 2013


MIRACLE FALLS / THE LAURELS - Kelly's Olympian, May 9, 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)