Wednesday, February 26, 2014

z'Bumba Hosts HUGE Brazilian Carnaval - 3/1

z'Bumba Hosts HUGE Brazilian Carnaval Celebration - Two Floors, Two Stages
Analog Cafe & Theater - 720 SE Hawthorne Blvd
Sat March 1, 2014 - Doors 8pm / Show 8:30pm / 21+
$12 Advance / $15 Day Of

Posted by Matt 
Host of "Subterranea"
Tue 10-11pm / Thu 11pm-Midnight
facebook/SubterraneaPDX  |  @subterranea 


Portland has become awash in Mardi Gras celebrations.  And while you’re waiting for Fat Tuesday to come around next week, there’s still the Latin America side of pre-Lenten celebration to consider - and Portland’s premiere Brazilian music band, z’Bumba is hosting an event this Saturday that promises to overwhelm all the senses.  

The site will be the Analog Café & Theater where two stages on two floors will barely contain the revelry of Carnaval.  Expect unrelenting Brazilian rhythms from z'Bumba, Grupo Arrasta, scantily-clad samba dancers from the Axé Didé troupe (feathers & sequin bikinis!), the 17-piece marching band from space, Love Bomb Go-Go, a couple dance DJs (DJ Cuíca and DJ Malandro) and – in a polite nod to the States and those who crave a little second line – the New Orleans sounds of the 82nd Ave Brass Band.  

I can feel my Sunday hangover creeping in already….

Advance tix available here.

z'Bumba - "Sabiá lá na Gaiola"

z’Bumba shoots out relentless, synaptic-swift rhythms from a ringing triangle and then layers in swirling accordion lines like sweet guava jam (or, like Brazilian goiabada, to be precise…).  The rest is built on the bass-register and traditional percussion, including the large, shoulder-slung zabumba bass drum.  The Portuguese vocals sound like a smile, often culminating in a gleeful full-band chorus.  And sometimes there’s a haughty tone, maybe even a little defiant.  It’s all in the history of forró.  

Forró (pronounced fo-HOH) is the music of the Brazilian people - the working class - and is quite unlike the cocktail-smooth sounds of bossa nova or the feathered carnaval hysteria of samba.  Once considered only “music for maids and taxi drivers,” forró was marginalized and frowned at much like the blues in the U.S.  And like the blues, forró has since gained a footing in its homeland, become cool, even in samba-mad Rio.  True to its egalitarian roots, it’s believed the name “forró” comes from Brazilian workers reading English mining company posters which advertised company dances as “for all,” meaning not just management.  

Axé Didé (literally, 'Rising Vital Energy')  performs dynamic interpretations of sacred and secular dances from Cuba and Brazil, from  entrancing gods of fire, metal and water to the celebratory and sexy movements of Samba.

Axé Didé 

Love Bomb Go-Go describe themselves thusly: Clad in silver and white, LoveBomb Go-Go Marching Band of Portland, Oregon: Intergalactic freaks on a mission to mend, with music, the divisions of civilization; seeking universal equality and striving, even, to reestablish purposefulness for each and every life.

Love Bomb Go-Go - "Orphan Mother"

We Were Promised Jetpacks at Doug Fir 2/24 Review

Perhaps one of the greatest band names I can think of, We Were Promised Jetpacks garners humuoros attention as well as conjouring bitter remorse. The Scottish indie rock band's music holds onto the pent-up angst while adding layers of vulnerability across their sound. The same way someone strapped to a rocket might feel; full of excitable nerves, tense, but ready to take off.

WWPJ played the Doug Fir Monday evening, touring with female duo and fellow Scottish outfit Honeblood as openers. Portland marked both the second night of their North American tour as well as a 5-piece band, after adding friend and guitarist/keyboardist Stuart McGachan in early 2013.

Releasing their first album These Four Walls in 2009 WWPJ gained much poularity and success with the indie rock/emo alternative crowd. With tracks like Quiet Little Voices their energy and sound fell somewhere between Britain's Block Party catchiness and Taking Back Sunday's thrashy pop.

Their sophomore effort  In the Pit of the Stomach from 2011 continued their rumbling rock and dissonant rolling anthems without branching terribly far from their initial and successful formula. Various tracks of their albums found their way onto teen tv soundtracks(i.e.Vampire Diaries) proving their emotional rock resonated with many.

Now in the process of recording their 3rd album, due in the Fall of 2014, their current tour is giving them a chance to test new material live. The almost packed room proved that even on a Monday night WWPJ has a loyal fanbase interested to hear what's coming next. Of their few new tracks it appears WWPJ are attempting to build beyond adolescent agnst and into adult rock and menacing melancholy. Perhaps aiming for the success of UK indie rock darlings Foals, their music contains both heartbreak as well as glass breaking potential.

They seemed to have their most fun when trying out the new material rather than playing audience favorites, perhaps in hopes of breaking out of their own mold. With building intros, ominious interludes(Sore Thumb), and a strictly intsrumental encore WWPJ brought to mind the charging force and emotional punch that has given Austin's Explosions In the Sky a decade of success.

While compairsons can be made contiually in the alternative rock world, singer Adam Thompson's distinct and obvious Scottish accent sets the band apart in a least one major way.  I'm excited to see We Were Promised Jetpacks pushing forward and holding their weight among contemporay rock while striving to find and forge both a voice and sound wholly their own.

Listening Man hosts The Lunchbox Mondays at noon.

PREVIEW: Sam Cooper & Co. (& His Many Friends) Residency 3/2 - 3/8 @ Al's Den

Sam Cooper & Co. + Special Nightly Guests
Sun March 2, 2014 - Sat March 8
Weeklong Residency @ Al's Den (under the Crystal Ballroom)
Music Nightly 7-10pm / FREE/ 21+

Posted by Matt 
Host of "Subterranea"
Tue 10-11pm / Thu 11pm-Midnight
facebook/SubterraneaPDX  |  @subterranea 


The weeklong residencies at Al's Den downtown have become a multifaceted jewel in the vibrant Portland night scene.  

For seven nights, one musician "curates" a lineup that frequently pulls together some of the best talent in the city to perform in the intimate, historical - and at one time, notorious - little opium den of a room under the Crystal Ballroom. Shows are 7-10pm and it's always free.  The creativity and intimacy often make nights in Al's Den feel like you've snuck into basement jam session 

The (Mardi Gras) week of March 2 - 8 sees the always entertaining and frequently brilliant, multi-instrumentalist Sam Cooper on hosting duties.  The lineup promises to span continents, eras and psychic dimensions.  That last one may be an exaggeration, but you get my point.  It'll be really good.

Sam Cooper & Co. - "Flowers Owls Hours"

A talented multi-instrumentalist and songwriter, Sam has created a uniquely intimate live production that blends natural showmanship with stellar musicianship.  Whether he’s playing guitar, or piano, or mandolin, or any other instrument drawn from his arsenal of ability, the audience is inevitably pulled together with a shared experience of sing-a-longs, banter and even a “stump the singer” bit where an expected-to-be silly request like “Eye of the Tiger” might be transformed into one of the most heartbreaking and bittersweet ballads you’ve ever heard.  Or he might improvise an entirely believable, and often hilarious, facsimile of the request if he doesn’t actually know it.  

Sam released his first solo album, “Long Lost Love,” in late 2012.  It’s a record of audio alchemy, a multi-tracked mosaic in which Sam sings his poetic, metaphorically-dense songs in harmony with himself and backed by his own instruments - guitar, piano, violin, accordion, banjo, bass, glockenspiel, mandolin and even the charango (a kind of Andean lute)… everything but drums, because there’s some things that just need another brain, and setting time is one of them. 


Sun, March 2 - Chervona's leader Andrei Temkin breaks out a rare solo set in his "Chervona Bambino" guise.  (Though one might expect surprise drop-ins)  Chervona's energy and outrageous blend of gypsy-balkan-punk have spun thousands of Portlanders into sweaty dancing masses, and while Temkin may not be as loud as the Chervona powerhouse, he's sure to bring a range of traditional Russian and gypsy numbers along with his own irrepressible showmanship. 

Mon, March 3 - The Builders & Butchers have been spreading Northwest voodoo soul for years now, packing tambourine and shaker-mad fans into gigantic rooms like the Wonder Ballroom and Roseland.  Leader Ryan Sollee, who has launched a new band called Albatross ,will be sharing the stage with his multi-talented bandmate, Harvey Tumbleson for what could be a mystical moment.  

Tue, March 4 - MARDI GRAS - Break out every good-time emotion and disinhibition you can muster.  Jacob Miller & the Bridge City Crooners will be making the stage shudder with their stunningly authentic, high-energy jug band songs.  Relentless washboard rhythm, a shining National guitar and their dapperly anachronistic clean-cut look that could come right from an Okeh Records publicity still have propelled the Jacob Miller band into high Portland prominence that past two years.

Jacob Miller @ PSU

Wed, March 5 - Amenta Abioto evokes a wide history of the African diaspora through a kind of improvisational jazz-soul-traditional-storytelling multi-complexity of music.  Rhythmic loops, vocal impressiveness, ancient wisdoms and simple truths spill from her onstage.

Amenta Abioto - "Of Course Pretty"

Thu, March 6 - Jeremy Lee Faulkner (Ah Holly Family) brings his new band, the Final Dorm to spread their golden hued country rock that would fit perfectly into the 1967 Laurel Canyon scene (John Fogerty, the Byrds, Buffalo Springfield...)

Fri, March 7 - There is No Mountain is the name for married couple Kali Giaritta and Matt Harmon, who were formerly the core of the acclaimed group, the Ascetic Junkies.  The addictive melodies of their songs are only matched by the wise and often tender lyrics that explore the meaning of collective unconsciousness and humanness in the unfurling Singularity with more smiles and toe-tapping than Jung or Kurtzweill ever anticipated. 

There is No Mountain - "Owl Hymn"

Sat, March 8 - The Bottlecap Boys  bring the weeklong residency to a climax with their raucous energy, skillful picking, brilliant lyrics and 21st Century intelligence that have earned comparisons to groups like the Avett Brothers and the Mountain Goats.
Every foot in the house = dancing.   

The Bottle Cap Boys - Cover of the Lumineers "Hey Ho"

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Local Artist Speaks: MIKE COYKENDALL

Mike Coykendall is a legend as far as I'm concerned.  I suspect a few other folks in town will agree with me in that regards as he can be found working with so many other musicians on creating great music together. 

You can see him on February 27 at Mississippi Studios. Click here for show info!

He is the KZME Featured Artist for February!


How long have you lived in the Portland area?
since late '99.  Had to get out of SF before Y2K!!

Give us a brief history of your band/project:
Well, I was in my 1st band at age 15. I'm 50 now. Haven't really taken a break. I have been taking a break from doing the full band thing for a year or two now and I have been playing solo. All by my lonesome. It's a new challenge.

What’s the first song you ever learned to play?
Day Tripper by the Beatles but I wasn't doing it correctly for a while. I was putting an F# where the G should go. Oh well. I got there eventually.

What’s your favorite local venue to play? To see other bands?
The Doug Fir is really nice for a big rock sound. They do a good job there. I like the Aladdin for seeing a show / listening. All of them can be good if the night is right. I've had good times at many of them. I guess I like the small rooms the best.

Speaking of other bands, who do you like on the Portland music scene?
A few names come to mind. I know of so many. New and old. Not gonna pick. It's too hard! :0

Tell us about a recent “Only in Portland” moment you might have had.
I've gotten so used to Portland and its peculiar ways. I find it to still be a great place for a freak like myself. Anyhoo... "Only in Portland" ?? Not really.

Finish this sentence: “I cannot live without_____.”  Water.

Connect with Mike Coykendall here:
Facebook Fan Page

Mike Coykendall - Crazy in Kansas from Mr. Fly on Vimeo.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Pure Bathing Culture and Marissa Nadler

Pure Bathing Culture and Marissa Nadler at Mississippi Studios

Monday 2/17

Luckily my van made it to the show. I had never been to Mississippi Studios before but I realize now what a special and intimate place it is. 

Marissa Nadler, the Boston singer-songwriter, opened the show and warmed hearts. Her voice is dark and soothing. It was a beautiful sight to see audience members sitting down on the large rug in front of the stage. You felt comfortable with Nadler’s voice and in a trance with her backing cello and violin. Her sound reminded me a lot of Cat Power and Lana Del Ray.

Portland natives, Pure Bathing Culture, headlined the show and were pure 80’s adult contemporary, new wave, and synch pop revival, magic. They performed an appropriate and impressive cover of Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams. I felt I was in an 80’s romance movie the whole time. Every song could have fit perfectly into a Molly Ringwald film.

Sarah Versprille, the lead singer of Pure Bathing Culture, has a beautiful, dreamy voice and her melodies keep you hooked. She also has the hottest mullet ever. She’s the real deal. 

I went from being in a beautiful melodic trance to being in an 80’s romance montage and whenever that happens it’s a sign of a great show.

I started my adventure with no money and barely any gas and not knowing what to expect. I ended the night sleeping in my van with a huge smile on my face because, for at least a few hours on my Monday night, I had been swept away to romantic dreamland's that only exist on old VHS tapes and in the music of Marissa Nadler and Pure Bathing Culture.


Monday, February 17, 2014

PREVIEW: Eleni Mandell @ Mississippi Studios, Wed Feb 19, 2014

Wed, Feb 19, 2014 - Doors 8pm / Show 9pm / $12 / 21+
w/ Vikesh Kapoor 

Posted by Matt 
Host of "Subterranea"
Tue 10-11pm / Thu 11pm-Midnight
facebook/SubterraneaPDX  |  @subterranea    

Photo: Laura Heffington
For a long number of years, most articles about Eleni Mandell would inevitably refer to a New Yorker quote that called her “perhaps the best unsigned artist in the business.”  But in 2012 she signed with Yep Roc Records (Dave Alvin, Robyn Hitchcock, John Doe), so that can now be amended.

They might also mention how she was an answer in the New York Times crossword puzzle. (16 across - “singer-songwriter _____ Mandell”).

Or how Chuck E. Weiss, longtime friend of Tom Waits - and subject of Rickie Lee Jones’ “Chuck E’s in Love” – first mentored her in the LA music scene, introduced her to Waits and financially backed her first album.

They might miss how she recorded “It’s Raining,” the Allen Toussaint song made famous by Irma Thomas, the Soul Queen of New Orleans, and how Thomas likewise recorded one of Eleni’s songs in return (“Another Lonely Heart”).  Or how last year in LA a group of singers that included Jackson Browne and Van Dyke Parks gathered together for a tribute show                                                                to her. 

They might forget about the bizarre disconnect between style and substance when, in 2005, she was hired to sing Cole Porter’s “I Love Paris” which became the soundtrack to a notoriously offensive commercial (could there be any other kind) featuring a bikini-clad Paris Hilton seductively dripping ketchup on herself while eating a Carl’s Jr. burger the size of a raccoon. 

But they’ll certainly mention how she’s worked with producers Jon Brion (Aimee Mann, Fiona Apple) and most recently, Joe Chiccarelli (The White Stripes, The Shins, My Morning Jacket) and how she toured with legendary British musician and producer Nick Lowe a little over a year ago.  Or how she was referred to as “the female Tom Waits” for an awfully long time.

She was part of the first wave of artists in the mid 1990’s moving into the now-hipster-famous and dizzyingly expensive Los Feliz area of Los Angeles when it was still mostly considered the gang-infested backside of  Griffith Park.  The scene included Beck, Elliott Smith and Mark Everett (Eels).  Her 2001 song “Silverlake Babies” was a lullaby for that particular time and place.

Eleni Mandell - "Girls" from the album Miracle of Five (2007)

Eleni Mandell was DIY before it was cool, before it had initials – mining treasures from thrift stores and flea markets, making her own dresses… Likewise, she was on the leading edge of the DIY-Indy Music movement before it became a larger concept.  At 15 she decided to stick with guitar after giving up years of violin and piano.  A graduate of UC Berkeley (art major) where she first started playing public gigs, she returned to her native Los Angeles after graduation in 1992 with a new dream to be a singer.  While doing open mics, she landed a demo deal with DreamWorks Records.  When they ultimately passed on the Jon Brion-produced album, she decided to release it herself - the critically-acclaimed 1998 debut, “Wishbone.”  From then until the Yep Roc deal two years ago, she recorded and toured the world independently and productively – producing a total of nine solo albums, one EP and four other albums as part of the Grabs (Steve Gregoropoulos, Nigel Harrison, Elvira Gonzales) and the Living Sisters (Inara George, Becky Stark).  She has licensed nearly two dozen songs to movies and TV shows, a surprising number of the shows with generic nouns in the title – “New Girl,” “Brothers & Sisters,” “Girls,” “Boys,” “Men in Trees”…

But her biggest DIY project the past three years has been completely different.  “I guess I get to be an ambassador to make sperm donors more normal,” she said.  Meaning her twins, Rex and Della, who were conceived with intention and planning via sperm bank and have been touring with her on the road since they were a little over one year old.  She explained to Paste Magazine - “I’d always wanted children, and I was 39 years old.  My boyfriend didn’t want kids, so we broke up… People still think it’s pretty weird and it makes them a little uncomfortable…”

Eleni Mandell - "Put My Baby to Bed" from the album Let's Fly a Kite (2014)

The twins are the inspiration behind her new album, “Let’s Fly a Kite,” which was recorded in London last year with Nick Lowe’s band.  It’s an ode to motherhood with songs that American Songwriter Magazine called “refreshingly out of step with anything contemporary. In fact, if you heard many of them without knowing they were recently recorded, it’s likely you would think you stumbled upon a terrific and undiscovered 60s folk/pop oddity.”

Needless to say, she’s pretty open about her life, giving unguarded interviews and making honest connections with fans.  Before social media, she was already doing the personal things that have become essential for independent musicians like including a handwritten thank-you note with each CD that was purchased through her website.  And her fans love her for it.  To raise funds for her current tour, she launched a crowdfunding campaign through PledgeMusic last year.  She hit her goal in less than eight hours, and doubled that amount soon after.  The support of her fans has made it possible for her to combine work and family in a decidedly post-modern way - traveling, performing, songwriting and raising kids simultaneously.  “Bringing them on the road has been a joy for me and an education for them,” she wrote on the PledgeMusic pitch. “I’m certain that traveling is having a really positive impact on them. Keeping them on the road with me is a priority. Your support will not only help fund my upcoming tour but will help keep my family together.”  And the ex-boyfriend?  He’s on tour with them now too, stepping into the essential role of babysitter while she works. 

But what of the earlier comparisons to Chrissie Hynde, PJ Harvey and Joni Mitchell?  The tortured and tragic love-and-loss songs?  In conversation she speaks carefully and thoughtfully with her steady, bakelite smooth voice.  “I’m a much happier person than I used to be.  My own records, I think, are a little bit sad,” she said with a laugh.  “And now I find a lot of inspiration from my kids, and from life, and having more perspective on life instead of just being this sad sack… and wanting to write about how sad I am.  So that’s kind of cool.”  She adds, “It’s nice for me anyway.”

* * *

“Gifted with a voice that’s as smoky and coolly moderate as a chanteuse secreting a pearl-handled revolver beneath her dress in a noir novel.” – The Los Angeles Times

“…her voice, which seems simultaneously cool and warm to the touch… her lyrics, which benefit from a poet's eye for detail without falling victim to the trap of being more enamored of the description than the thing she's describing.” -- NPR

“Eleni Mandell combines a sweet, slightly sad but still innocent-sounding vocal style with mature, layered lyrics that cleverly delve into the messy side of grown-up love affairs.” -- A.V. Club

# # #

CLUBLAND! The Cloak Ox, Wonder Ballroom; The We Shared Milk & Yuck, Mississippi Studios 1/23/2014

THE CLOAK OX - Wonder Ballroom  23 Jan 2014

THE WE SHARED MILK & YUCK - Mississippi Studios  23 Jan 2014

Oh my goodness, at last. What seems like years ago - it was last September - I reviewed Shoot The Dog for the online site I write for (my other music obsessive gig) and knew right then it was going to be a steep climb for any other album to beat it to the top of my top 10 of 2014 list. None made it. I also knew they were slated to play Portland but not until January, an eternity but thankfully eternity's passed, the night is here, the band were kind enough to put me on the list which is a good thing as I'd forgotten that headliner Volcano Choir was is Bon Iver frontman Justin Vernon's post rock outfit and the show sold out many weeks ago. All of which adds up to me having to admit that this is as giddy as I've been at the prospect of seeing a band for as long as I can remember. Show's got an 8:30 start time at the Wonder (which is also good since I overbooked myself and agreed to blog Yuck at the Mississippi as well; can hardly wait to see all the Volcano Choir fans faces as I leave without seeing their band. Ah well, some things can't be helped.

So, no surprise, parking is at a premium around the Wonder. I'm two blocks up on Graham, gotta walk through a biting wind but nothing will stay my enthusiasm, I'm feeling this boost of anticipative energy that reminds me of walking toward Winterland during high school. Once inside the scene is a bit subdued, no great teeming crowd yet and they're skewing young (so hey, maybe I am too, magic mirror and all that, so long as I don't, y'know, look in an actual mirror)

The Cloak Ox are a bit of a Minneapolis/St Paul supergroup, comprising members of Fog (guitarist/singer Andrew Broder), Andrew Bird (guitarist Jeremy Ylvisaker), Dosh (drummer Martin Dosh) and "just about everyone else" (bass player Mark Erickson) but even considering that, the power of their debut album simply stunned. I'm not often brought up short by an unexpected album but of course love it when it happens, what better listening experience is there, eh? Well, except for seeing an album like that played live. The band appear promptly at the appointed time and proceed to do, well, just about that, if you don't count starting off with a new song (they'll end with one as well, neither of which I know the name of and so will leave them for any appraisal until they appear on record). "King Rope" unspools as an electrifying funky mash, "Pigeon Lung" is tighter than the LP version which I wouldn't have thought possible, Ylvisaker ripping off solos like God, guitar or otherwise. Then there's "Yesterday's Me," which I swear to Buddha I never thought I'd get a chance to see live if only because I wasn't sure it could be done, it's so delicate and soaring and full of passion, with several different movements all packed inside a quasar of intensity and beauty, how could it work live? How? Beautifully, that's how. All I can say is, click that link just above, and know that it sounded remarkably close to the majesty you hear there. Also know that this time around it's Broder taking the solos.

Quick on its heels we veer into the unruly rock block, with the driving "Josephine" followed by "Prisen," both raucous and seemingly unrestrained even as they're almost unbearably tight, tighter than my teenage jeans would be on me in 2014. There's a brimming, crisp, and moving trawl through the bump and thump of "Andy Broder's Dream" before signing off with that other new one that's playful in a kind of northern soul-meets-epic midwest rock'n'roll stylee which succeeds in making me more eager for their next record than, again, I would have thought possible. And ain't that nice, having one's already sky-high expectations not only met but exceeded. Quick stop by the merch table to pick up the Prisen EP then it's sideways down the stairs past the incoming VC hordes that just missed possibly the best support band they'd never heard of. More's the shame, I suppose, but I don't have time to think on it. I've got a date at the Mississippi.

Arriving just in time for the end of Tender Age (next time, I hope; what I heard I liked) but in time for The We Shared Milk which I've heard great things about but don't think I've heard yet, even as they're a staple on the KZME playlist. Can't hear everything, right? Well, I'm certainly glad I've heard this band now. TWSM come on like a psych punk juggernaut, all splashy racing cymbals, garage guitar solo and I must say I had no idea. With the set-up of a Roland, Telecaster, Fender bass and a bescarved drummer, you can't ask for a more drivingly classic line-up. The guitarist's whammy bar hangs loose, whether from exhaustion or submission it's impossible to know. When they let the feedback ride between their second and third songs we know we're in the hands of some true noise merchants, albeit ones with a penchant for imperishable hooks and verve to spare. (Talked to Boone after the show, and it's agreed that the command they show on stage is a natural by-product of playing out a LOT). Out of nowhere they might just be my favorite (non-post-punk, of course) Portland band. They are, in fact, psych pop monsters, charging melodic and hardworking. Following their 'last' song they fall into a last last song that just about rips a hole in the ceiling. TWSM have got the spirit, chops, and wild commitment (and, one presumes, milk) enough to last the distance, a definite "keep you eye on 'em" band. And your ears.

(Quick side note, by the way: Quite the crowd here tonight, given what's going on a mile away. Let no one say that live music isn't being boisterously supported in Portland, Oregon)

Annnd, on to Yuck (some phrases you just have to say when the chance arises). A London band that released a sprightly little self-titled album of brash bash pop back in 2011, they lost their lead singer who moved toward solo pastures but the band carried on. Last year's Glow & Behold got mixed reviews but I'm guessing they'll be whacked-out good live and in fact am counting on it. 

A punkish poppish proposition that remind of Green Day with a frisson of John Peel-favored DIY dandyism, they show no ostensible signs of having lost much edge, though I've never seen them before so the more experienced Yuck punter may disagree. Third song solidifies the oft-used description of Yuck, of inhabiting a decided 90's aesthetic, as it could easily have originated from the Lush Pulpy lands of 1995. Personally I think it's too early for that particular revival but then again it's been twenty years and they're not alone (Speedy Ortiz is mining the Pavement/Breeders soundscapes as we speak). Plus, they're impeccably, rather irresistibly, good at it, even as the post-C86 jangle tires after a while. But, still, I must say, the hooks keep comin,' ringing chiming nuggets with indominable vocal nougats at their center. At one point they play a song off a yet-released EP that comes off all Luna-like and it's hard to sound more promising than that.

Though some of the tracks from the new record do fall into too easy of a groove - you keep waiting for the spark to catch - overall Yuck prove themselves enduring carriers of what we might dub the 'C96' movement, arguably the last era in so-called 'indie' music where bands had a chance at a career and the music reflected that undercurrent of optimism. Looked at that way, Yuck are an essential band, a modest, craftworthy bridge to what was - and, who knows, may one day again - be possible.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Red Bull Sound Select, Doug Fir, Feb 4, 2014: The Helio Sequence, Genders, Modern Kin

Posted by: Adrienne Thompson, Host of the Sunday Sessions, 9-11 am

If you have not heard about the Doug Fir’s monthly Red Bull Sound Select show, then your next click after this page should be this link where you can see the coming lineup.

Last Tuesday, a trifecta of awesome Portland bands descended on the Doug Fir to the cheers of a packed house.

The night started with Modern Kin, a gritty indie rock trio that has gathered a following of folks who knew them first as the passionate and rowdy live band, Pastors’ Wives, and now as this current remodeled, yet still primeval, studio recorded iteration. Last October they dropped their self-titled album and started touring the Northwest and beyond. It is hard not to like the gospel-earnestness of Drew Grow’s staccato voice, Jeremiah Hayden’s drumming, and Kris Doty’s bass playing (electric and upright – like a boss). Although an evolving band with a new name, longtime fans immediately felt the same ribcage reverberating energy that the members have always channeled and that hit full tilt from the first song.

Genders came out second, and by this point, folks in the crowd were pretty pumped on PBRs and no small amount of caffeine. The lead vocalist, Maggie Morris, acknowledged as much when she gripped the mic and asked the crowed “if anyone else feels like their heart is about to explode out of their chest because of too much red bull.” Yeah, no early bedtime for me, but I hardly thought about it once they got started. 

The talent of Matthew Hall and Stephen Leisy cannot be understated, but I was particularly enthralled by the band’s two female members. Katherine Paul’s upbeat and precise drumming melds well with Morris’s haunting voice, coating the band’s melancholy undertones with the candy glaze typifying today’s emerging dark pop bands. This is a group to keep your eye on.

(For some reason I can't imbed the bandcamp-hosted version of their "Technicolor Visions" song, check it out here:

The main event of the evening was, of course, The Helio Sequence. As can be seen by past national and international tour schedules, this pair has obviously outgrown their Oregon beginnings. However, they seemed at ease among the cozy confines of the Doug Fir, and even reminisced in between songs about their past shows at the venue. While I've enjoyed their fifth and most recent album, Negotiations, 2008’s Keep Your Eyes Ahead is a staple for both my ipod and my Sunday Sessions playlist for KZME. The highlight of the night was definitely when they launched into the sonic wave cascade of “Hallelujah”. They seemed intentional about peppering their set with little-known gems and well-loved favorites from across their discography. 

Although no one complained, they put on an extended show with several encore songs, and lead singer Brandon Summers looked particularly drained toward the end. Both he and Benjamin Weikel left it all out there that night—in what seemed like an appreciative gesture to both the loyal fans who braved the cold to attend, as well as to the venue that helped launch the band's career.

What's Up Next For the Bands: 
Modern Kin is hitting up some cities in Washington and Idaho in the next few weeks, and plan to return to Portland on March 29 for a show at the Bunk Bar.  

Genders self-released their first full-length album, Get Lost in December. They recently hit a bit of a snag while touring for the CD, but not even a totaled van can keep these kids down, so keep checking back to their website for upcoming tour dates. 

No word yet on whether The Helio Sequence has more tour plans, but keep checking back to their website!

Thanks and Disclaimers
My thanks to Anna Jensen and Bim Ditson!
All the awesome photography is copyrighted and licensed for use by Aaron Rogosin and the Red Bull Content Pool.