Upcoming Concerts: 5/2-5/9

Friday, May 2nd

Augustana - Doug Fir Lounge /// 9:00

Justin Nozuka - Star Theater /// 9:00

Modest Mouse - Crystal Ballroom /// 8:00

Saturday, May 3rd

3 Leg Torso, Shoestring Trio - The Old Church /// 8:00

Ingrid Michaelson - Roseland Theater /// 7:30

Typhoon - Mississippi Studios /// 5:30

Sunday, May 4th

Ancient Heat - Rontoms /// 9:00

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - Holocene /// 8:30

Monday, May 5th

MONO - Doug Fir Lounge /// 9:00

Tuesday, May 6th

Teen with King Friday - Bunk Bar /// 9:30

Wednesday, May 7th

Anna Spackman - White Eagle Saloon /// 8:30

Thursday, May 8th

The Vandies - Ash Street Saloon /// 9:30

Friday, May 9th

Eu’s Arse with Zipperhead - Blackwater Records /// 7:00

Out This Week: 4/29 Releases

Chad VanGaalen - Shrink Dust (Released by: Sub Pop)

Elephant - Sky Swimming (Released by: Memphis Industries)

Hive Dwellers - Moanin’ (Released by: K Records)

Johnossi - Transitions (Released by: Caroline/Universal)

Nat Baldwin - In the Hollows (Released by: Western Vinyl Records)

Ought - More Than Any Other Day (Released by: Constellation)

Pink Mountaintops - Get Back (Released by: Jagjaguwar)

Pixies - Indie Cindy (Released by: Pixies)

Rodrigo y Gabriela - 9 Dead Alive (Released by: ATO)

Wye Oak - Shriek (Released by: Merge)

Bombay Bicycle Club bring on the dance party

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PHOTO BY NATHAN FLORSHEIM

By Maddie Ticknor /// Staff Writer

Nothing says fun on a rainy Tuesday night like bopping to the sounds of an indie rock band that’s well known for its slight psychedelic infusion. Touring behind their February release, “So Long, See You Tomorrow” (2014), Bombay Bicycle Club have a redefined energy that includes an eclectic, pop feel that really gets the audience dancing.

Though Bombay’s opener, Royal Canoe, didn’t perform as expected, Liz Lawrence was an excellent surprise who blew the audience away with sweet vocals and witty lyrics. However, by the time Bombay Bicycle Club came on, the audience was ready to dance and sing along. The band members immediately amped the Wonder Ballroom’s energy by kick starting with “Overdone,” a high-energy tune from “So Long, See You Tomorrow.”

Lead singer Jack Steadman jumped around and swung his arms throughout the show as strobe lights flashed and mandala-like images of eagles, turtle heads and dancing men and women spun in the background. His vigor and intensity remained undisrupted throughout the band’s set, as he was able to stay hydrated with a mysterious water bottle full of golden liquid—probably apple juice.  

Though the band concentrated on cranking out songs from their new album, they satisfied the audience’s need for a throwback by throwing in a few songs from 2011’s “A Different Kind of Fix.” The set included classics such as “Shuffle” and “How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep.”

Though the band’s fun, danceable sound is practically made to be enjoyed at outdoor concerts, the show was as good as it could have been for the type of band they are. Personally, the intense visual light show combined with the energy of the band all thrown in with the spirit of the audience, made for an ultimately pleasant listening experience.

PHOTOS BY HANNAH TURNER-HARTS

As a slightly belated contribution to throwback Thursday, here is a retrospective photo montage of Sunburn. It was nearly a full month ago that hundreds of Lewis & Clark students packed into Stamm for several hours of constant sound and movement. Student acts Sweat Shop and The Goddamn Band set the stage for Cave Singers and Shannon and the Clams, who headlined together. With warm weather fully underway, it couldn’t be more appropriate to look back at the event that started spring off on the right note. Click on each photo for a closer view and a caption.

-Katrina Staaf

Catching signals that sound in the dark: Neutral Milk Hotel’s timelessness is second only to their flawlessness

IMAGE COURTESY OF MERGE RECORDS

By Zibby Pillote /// Staff Writer

With the progression of three simple chords, a packed, sweating Crystal Ballroom is the solitude of my bedroom in 2006. Eight years following the release of “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea,” my 14-year-old self struggles to stretch my fingers into a b-flat across guitar frets to master “King of Carrot Flowers, Pt. 1.” Since then, Jeff Mangum’s peculiar voice has haunted mix CDs, car stereos and ear buds as I’ve grown these past eight years.

The first night of Neutral Milk Hotel’s two-show residency at the Crystal Ballroom left me feeling complete, and even changed; as a jaded listener who didn’t expect to be wowed following Jeff Mangum’s solo performance on the same stage two years ago, I was pleasantly blown away. There was nothing new about the performance, nothing extraordinary—the band sounds verbatim like their albums—just the pure, flawless, slightly sped- up magnitude of a band that has influenced independent music for the last 25 years.

It would be easy for a band like NMH, one so well-known for so little material, to perform them- selves. With sixteen years between the band and “Aeroplane,” one has to wonder how much connection they really feel to these songs. The answer based on their performance: a lot. Scott Spillane, who plays horn and other random instruments, sang along to every song, without microphone; Julian Koster, who supports Mangum on banjo, bass and guitar, hardly stood still; the band was full, brandishing horns of all sorts, keyboards and accordions. During fast-paced songs like “Holland, 1945” the stage was alive with noise and light.

Standing amongst fans of all ages, people old enough to be
my parents and their children, I couldn’t help but feel a visceral reaction to everything—Mangum’s voice, the brassy fuzz, the lyrics.

I could feel Mommy sticking the knife right into Daddy’s shoulder. I am laying and learning; I am finding that secret place that no one dare to go. I am Naomi, in full bloom walking through Cambridge. I am Comely, asleep with my mother in the trailer park. They’re placing fingers in the notches of my spine, and I am tapping on my jar.

Just as Mangum’s lyrics transcend history, space and time, so does NMH. They aren’t a band that one can pin down to any one era, one decade—they are a seething, ever-present, old-souled and timeless spirit in every breath of every song that we cherish now. In a way, I’m glad I wasn’t old enough or aware enough to see NMH in their time. I needed my own time, needed to make my own meaning out of their catalog of songs. I needed to relate the heart- break of “Two Headed Boy Pt. 2” to the time my crush didn’t ask me to prom; I needed to define myself as an Engine who’d go “through endless revisions to state what I mean.” I needed to see Neutral Milk Hotel once, through the lens of my 21-year-old self, looking backwards on all of the ways I have been moved to feel by these songs.

And as disappointing as it was not to hear Mangum’s loud and apathetic, “OK” at the end of “King of Carrot Flowers Pts. 2-3,” I’ll gladly take the 90-some minutes of awe I was given. 

Habibi keep listeners guessing throughout self-titled debut

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IMAGE COURTESY OF BURGER RECORDS

By Ted Jamison /// Staff Writer

Fun fact: If you were to go on Habibi’s Facebook page and look at their “influences” section, you would see “warren and trumbull, bubblegum, comic books, Googoosh, Motown.” Don’t tell me you’re not intrigued.

Here we have Habibi’s self-titled debut release from Burger Records. The album brings together a collection of delectably lethargic garage-pop tunes. This record just barely acknowledges you…no more than a cynical half squint in your direction. Honestly, you can’t help but feel that Habibi doesn’t care if you listen to them. It’s a sort of aural reverse psychology that proves to be irresistible.

Everything is catchy. Everything grooves cool. The track list features pristine, plodding folk ballads (“She Comes Along”) against psychedelic head-nodders (“Persepolis”) to keep your ears wondering what is next. The lyrics here alternate between innocent and profoundly sexual. Good. Good. Good.

Rating: 4.5/5

About the Label:

Established by a couple of high school dropout corndogs in 2008, Burger Records is the DIY mecca of Southern California. In fact, boss-dudes Sean and Lee essentially built the location in Fullerton from the ground up. This label is doing real big things. Instead of making a fan-boy of myself, I’ll let Habibi do the talking. In a recent interview with Ladygunn magazine, vocalist Lenny Lynch stated, “I was shocked when we went to California and there are all these young kids that are so siked about rock and roll and it’s has a lot to do with Burger and what they’re doing and what they’re putting out and the tastes that they have.” Bassist, Erin Campbell seconded this, “They are very good people with extremely good taste in music and they’re spreading the gospel across California and the world.”

Wellington Downs offer refreshing, multigenre rock on The Westers

PHOTO COURTESY OF PATIENT SOUNDS

By Ted Jamison /// Staff Writer

Post-punk/field recording/soundscape guru Matthew Sage claims that Wellington Downs is a “no-limits studio recording project.” Based on its blend of folk and post-punk sensibilities, their new tape is prime for lazy porch listening. The whole thing creaks like an Adirondack chair, comfortable and unassuming. As a listener, you’re bound to be struck by the tape’s refreshing blend of instrumental and vocal-based songs.

The heady depth of instrumental tunes like “The Porch Approach” encroaches on dimensions of Grizzly Bear, featuring jazzy kick-hat, “boom-chick,” tom-centric drums beneath airy guitar lines that dip into abstraction. 

Punkiness manifests in tunes like “Calendar Recliner” and “Swoon at the Exit,” though to be clear, nothing on this tape will hurt your ears. Vocal melodies take on a fractured likeness of Dr. Dog (as in the track “Oh Basement”) and even hints of Toro y Moi (“In Twin Cities”). “Nada Tomb” and “Squelch of the Heart” are shining examples of post rock and indie folk holding hands and walking into the sunset.

Rating: 3.9/5

About the Label:

Wellington Downs’ front man, Matthew Sage, created and still runs Patient Sounds. He designates the label as being “rooted in DIY and punk aesthetics, but available to all curiosities.” Its goal is “to champion hand-crafted sound objects and printed matter” (the site also offers a couple zines of for sale).

When asked why the label is partial to cassette as a medium, Sage replied, “I think hybridity is what is so appealing about cassettes: we live in this hyperdigital era, but the cassette offers this almost neolithic aesthetic.” The material is recorded digitally and dubbed onto cassette, so all is available for a listen (regardless of whether you own a Walkman) on Wellington Downs’ bandcamp.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. continue to evolve, demonstrated by recent release

PHOTO COURTESY OF STEREOGUM

By Maddie Ticknor /// Staff Writer

Electro-indie-pop band Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.—originally of Detroit—have embarked on a U.S. tour in support of their 2014 release, Produce Volume 1. Founders Daniel Zott and Joshua Epstein got together in 2009, after both having stepped away from their own separate bands. “We kind of knew that we had something, so we kept practicing together,” Zott explained. Before we knew it, we had an EP and a record. Then we were like, ‘alright I guess we’re a band now.’”

When it came time to choose a band name, Zott and Epstein wanted something that wouldn’t give away their indie-pop genre and would encourage people to actually listen to their music. “To me, it doesn’t even register as a weird name anymore, Zott said. “But the point is that people can hear the name and not know what it we’re going to sound like.”

After five years of working together, Zott and Epstein still keeps their writing process unique to each individual song. Zott explained that their approach is different every time: “Sometimes Josh has a fully fleshed out idea. Like, with ‘Simple Girl,’ he just came in [to the studio] and sang it on acoustic. I could already hear [the substance of a song], so we started recording. Other times, as with ‘Morning Thought,’ all Josh had was the hook. We wrote the whole song around that.”

For their next album, which is currently in the works, Zott hopes that the writing process can include the entire band (this includes drummer Mike Higgins and keyboardist Jon Visger). “We are constantly evolving,” Zott said. “This record is our third, and it’s more of us jamming as a band as opposed to Josh and I doing everything. It was a cool step for us.”

Along with preparing to release their new mixtape, the band began working on a documentary since at the start of 2014. “The idea of the documentary is to give people a way to see into us and get to know us better,” Zott described. “Then, they will pay more attention to the music and see a different side of it.”

The documentary will give fans a look into the production aspect of touring and making music, which the band does entirely autonomously despite their record deal with Warner Brothers. “It’s kind of rare to be on a big label and not have to go to some big name producer who makes you feel uncomfortable and makes you pay a lot of money,” Zott said. “We get to still do it ourselves—in my basement actually.”

Be sure to check out Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.’s latest and most electronic mixtape, which features such guests as Asher Roth, Quelle Chris, and Chuck Inglish. It is available for download here.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. entertain fans of all ages

By Sonia Giacomazzi /// Staff Writer

On the night of March 3, a diverse group of Portlanders filtered into the Doug Fir Lounge for a sold out Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. concert. The venue seems to consistently attract people of various ages, and the crowd at this show was no exception. But I was still surprised by the presence of older audience members, considering the juvenile nature of the headlining band and of indie pop as a genre.

The band ditched their original Nascar performance getups for Hawaiian prints and pastel colors following the recent release of their second album, The Speed of Things. The self-declared “DIY guys” from Detroit performed flawlessly for an attentive crowd. Blending traditional instruments with extensive electronic programming, the band created a dynamic, feel-good soundscape. Frontman Joshua Epstein was largely in control of the loops and delays that dominated the show, frequently distorting and thickening his vocals with the assistance of electronic equipment. Contributing to this lighthearted atmosphere was Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.’s unique set design.

Mimicking a psychic’s crystal ball, the band projected short animations and patterns onto a large spherical screen centered in the middle of the stage (an original creation from a friend of the band, according to Epstein). These visuals thematically tied into the lyrics and were timed very effectively with the music. Though they occasionally took attention away from Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.’s performance, the animations provided an interesting layer of engagement. This was especially true of “Mesopotamia”.

The crowd remained relatively reserved until the band played its most recognizable hit, “If You Didn’t See Me (Then You Weren’t on the Dancefloor).” Frontman Daniel Zott let down his hair (literally), and everyone seemed to become energized. This was a fine send off to a generally mellow night. Perhaps the high energy came a little too late, but nonetheless seemed to be much appreciated.

Architects (UK) Dive Into Heavier Waters on Lost Forever // Lost Together

PHOTO COURTESY OF EPITAPH RECORDS

By Marita Farruggia /// Staff Writer

When British metalcore band Architects released their single “Naysayer” last month, I was surprised by its heaviness. I was interested to see if the rest of the album would sound more like the single or their previous album, Daybreaker(2012).

Lost Forever // Lost Together—released on the March 11 by Epitaph Records—has proven to be just as heavy throughout as its first single suggested. In many ways, it is Architects’ most inventive effort yet. Being known for dynamic and intense live performances, the band has previously struggled to translate that energy in studio recordings. But in this case, Architects do not disappoint: singer Sam Carter conveys the same emotion throughout the album he does on stage.

Lost Forever // Lost Together appropriately opens with the pounding “Gravedigger.” Track three is the highly controversial “Broken Cross,” which was released as the album’s second single and features lyrics that have been construed as anti-religious  (i.e. “God only knows why were born to burn”).  Guitarist Tom Searle responded to this controversy in a post on the band’s website.

“The Devil Is Near” ends with a stunning string section that provides a striking contrast to the heaviness that surrounds it. “Red Hypergiant” is an instrumental track that includes elements of post rock and samples a Carl Sagan speech.  I was initially surprised to hear that Murray Macleod of Scottish band The Xcerts would be collaborating with the Architects, but the resulting song—“Youth Is Wasted on the Young”— works eerily well. The album comes to a fitting close with the bittersweet track “The Distant Blue.”

Overall, Lost Forever // Lost Togethermight be Architects’ best album to date. They have maintained a stunning contrast between quiet and heavy sections, which has characterized their past few albums. However, Architects’ continued innovation is evident.

After having to cancel most of their North American tour with Protest the Hero, the band is back on the road and will be coming to America this summer. Architects are set to perform at Portland’s Branx in support of Letlive on May 19th.

Lost Forever // Lost Together is available for purchase HERE. Tickets to Architects’ Portland show can be purchased HERE.

Champ - Champ

imagePhoto courtesy of fleetingyouthrecords.com.

By Ted Jamison /// Staff Writer

Champ’s self-titled debut released this month on Austin label Fleeting Youth Records. Never heard them before? Well if Wavves and Cloud Nothings had a big ol’ messy baby, its name would certainly be Champ. How’s that for some sonic lineage? Based in San Diego, these guys fit right in with the sun-drunk, stoner garage rock that Southern California does so well. What we have here is a chunky, noisy collection of fine tunes. 

Front man, Joel Williams’ nasal vocals jeer bright and brat-like throughout, but with lyrics like, “Break my face in two…watch me break you too” you get the idea that this is a brat with some baggage worth unpacking. The distortion here is heavyweight and uncompromising but with an unexpected clarity, like sticking your face ears deep into a puddle of icy clear treble. Songs like “Nothing” and “Break” drive so fast you’d think they had a deadline, but slow drippers like “Terror of God” and “Loser” remind you that this is still a slacker stoner outfit.

The question: is it too derivative? Champ is doing nothing groundbreaking here, but though the music may be familiar, does that stop it from sounding damn good? I say no.

Rating: 3.8/5

About the Label:

According to their website, Fleeting Youth is a brand spanking new label, established in late 2013 in Austin, Texas. Their goal: “to connect and build a community with others that are just as musically obsessed and addicted to analog as we are.” The label is also currently accepting demos. Check them out here

Keel Her - Gnar Tapes

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By Ted Jamison // Staff Writer

In Gnar Tape #2, London based Keel Her (Rose Keeler-Schäffeler) expertly straddles the border between raw and melodic. Her imperfect pop listens like that awesome slice of pizza you just dropped facedown on the pavement: you’re still gonna eat it and like it. 

The track “Too Busy” features a repeated guitar-drum phrase serving as a simple canvas over which Keeler- Schäffeler smears deceivingly loaded lyrics like ancient indecipherable mantras. Songs like “Plum Island” and “I Lose Everything” resemble lackadaisical, daydream symphonies (complete with synthesized strings). Other times she drops into straight, crunchy noise-rock with tunes like “Negative Feedback” and “Sick Mind” serving as exercises in sonic angst. 

Vocals are echo-heavy throughout, ranging from empty auditorium to Grand Canyon levels of intensity. If you like actually understanding lyrics—tough break. I could seldom make out English in Keeler-Schäffeler’s fuzzed-out voice. That being said, this is a quite a satisfying tape. Yes, this is a cassette tape, but never fear. It is available via digital download off the Gnar Tapes bandcamp page.

Rating: 3.75/5

About the Label:

Gnar Tapes is an excellent Portland cassette tape label. When asked, they told me they started in 2008 “when President and Founder Rikky bought a box of tapes in the basement of a scuzz laboratory in inner southeast Portland.” What’s a scuzz laboratory? In short, the dudes release great low-key/lo-fi music from all over the states and beyond. Most of their material is also available via digital download from their bandcamp page. 

Washed Out continue touring momentum into the new year

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Photo by Maddie Ticknor

By Maddie Ticknor

Those of you who missed Washed Out last Thursday at the Crystal Ballroom missed a mellow light-show, surging ambient energy and gorgeous melodies, along with drunken teenagers swaying their bodies—almost to the beat.

The five-member “chillwave” band opened their show with “Entrance” followed by “It All Feels Right” from their newest album, which dropped
in Aug. 2013.
Paracosm is Washed Out’s sophomore release, featuring whimsical melodies and upbeat motifs. Lead singer and songwriter Ernest Greene’s reverb-dunked themes and calming, yet slightly indiscernible lyrics induce tranquil feelings similar those one might get while laying in the grass on a warm spring day, soaking up the sun’s rays.

Early on in the performance, Greene encouraged the crowd
to take advantage of the Crystal Ballroom’s bouncy floors and im
merse themselves in the psychedelic music swirling throughout the venue. The audience remained rather tepid until over half way through the show; perhaps this was due to the set list—songs became more and more energetic in a near flawless buildup to the encore. Fortunately, the band had enough continuous high energy to almost make up for the audience’s initial lack of it.

When strobe lights finally turned on, the audience woke up as well. Most people became progressively dancey-er as the show continued, until finally matching the musicians’ energy by the end of the show. The concert’s encore concluded with “Feel it All Around,” which brought everyone to life. This song has a special significance to the city of Portland, as it is the theme song for the show Portlandia. After-show chatter suggested that although the crowd took some time to warm up, Washed Out definitely did not disappoint. 

Upcoming Events 1/31-2/6

Friday, January 31st

The Devil Makes Three - Crystal Ballroom//9:00//$25

Saturday, February 1st

The Mantles, Still Cave, HD Personalities - Alhambra Theater//9:00//$5 (21+)

The Pack A.D. - Doug Fir Lounge//9:00//$12 (21+)

Aan, Desert Noises, Boys Beach - Mississippi Studios//9:00//$12 (21+)

Sunday, February 2nd

White Denim, Clear Plastic Masks - Doug Fir Lounge//9:00//$15 (21+)

Monday, February 3rd

Action Bronson, Party Supplies - Roseland Theater//8:00//$20

Tuesday, February 4th

Helio Sequence, Genders, Modern Kin - Doug Fir Lounge//9:00//$3 (21+)

Wednesday, February 5th

Neo Geo, The Maension, Art of Shock, Redcast, Ask You In Gray - Hawthorne Theatre//7:00//$13

Oneohtrix Point Never, Dawn of Midi - Doug Fir Lounge//9:00//$18 (21+)

Summer Cannibals, Grandhorse - Mississippi Studios//FREE (21+)

Thursday, February 6th

Hustle and Drone, Hosannas, Mothertapes - Holocene//8:30//$6