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August 2014
A Sunny Day in Glasgow
"Sea When Absent
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Sea When Absent (Lefse Records) opens like a shoegaze-y car crash. The latest album from A Sunny Day in Glasgow doesn’t bother gradually layering melodic elements; they get right to business from millisecond one, hitting you with reverberating electronic tones, orchestral violins, and the crooning vocals of Jen Goma and Annie Fredrickson. It’s a weirdly aggressive move for such an intensely soulful LP, but it’s pretty emblematic of how the record works as a whole. For an album as focused at creating moments of subtle beauty, Sea When Absent doesn’t have the time to let you gradually pick up on it on your own. A Sunny Day in Glasgow is the rare type of band that takes beauty and emotional resonances and waves it around like a chair in a bar fight.
 
In the strictest possible sense, this is a shoegaze-psychedelic-electronica album with a particular emphasis on vocals. But the more you listen; the more you start to discover what a diverse series of musical influences are rattling around in there. Mixing the electronica stylings of Flying Lotus and Saltillo with the indie-pop elements of bands like Death Cab and Phantogram, the basis is a percussion of grungy electronic tones, topped with a combination of guitar and synth, adding just the right balance, while being mixed in with a cavalcade of classical instruments and outlandish effects.
 
But the crown jewel of the album is Goma and Fredrickson’s understatedly gorgeous vocals. They play off, sometimes bizarre, instrumentations perfectly, complimenting them while also adding a fulcrum of relative normalcy to Sunny Day’s outside-the-box compositions. This is what really gives the album its sense of slick melancholy, creating an ambience of stylish vulnerability in tracks like “Byebye Big Ocean (The End),” where there is a sense of crooning sorrow, while “Oh I’m A Wrecker” sees them go much farther into the indie-pop paradigm.
 
While this record maintains the complexity and delightful weirdness of past A Sunny Day in Glasgow albums, it also comes with a newfound sense of clarity, in great part due to the outside production of Jeff Zeigler (of The War on Drugs and Kurt Vile fame). Zeigler is able to successfully piece together the moving parts of this bi-continental band, with mastermind Ben Daniels orchestrating things from the other side of the world in Australia, making the album’s abrupt left turns from spacey psychedelics to grounded punk-pop a little easier to digest. The wealth of ideas rarely feels busy or forced. Sea When Absent is ultimately proof that weird doesn’t necessarily have to mean messy. 

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Ghost Frog at Habesha Lounge 8.24

Very little information about local “space punk” outfit Ghost Frog has been documented on the internet since their initial descent from outer space, although one aspect of their mission seems clear: they came here to share their “space drugs” with Portland scenesters and relieve us of our intact eardrums. For all appearances, it seems they come in peace and the subsequent loss in hearing can be seen as a necessary oblation to the many-headed grungy space-psychgaze hybrid creatures that make up Ghost Frog. To describe “Made in Mars,” the band’s only song on bandcamp, imagine Tame Impala’s airy, other-worldly sound with the steady, driving rhythm cut out. Instead, the song seeps forward like liquid through fabric until it explodes into a fuzzy wall of feakout.

Come to Habesha Lounge (801 NE Broadway St, Portland, Oregon 97232) this Sunday, August 24 to point and stare at these plenipotentiaries from Pluto as they rock out alongside Dedere--whose genre tag “lit rock” and following Sylvia Plath reference in their album title should give you an idea of what they’re about--and Ghetto Hexes, whose loopy synth pop and dispassionate (yet garnished) boy-girl vocal stylings are evocative of The xx.

- Bryce Woodcock

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Mascaras + Dottie Attie at the Know 8.19

How often do you hike to viewpoints and scream at the top of your lungs? There's a very particular rush of energy following that experience and few situations can mimic the vibes. Tonight's show at the Know will sway you that exact way. 

The lineup includes Portland's Mascaras and Dottie Attie. Lovely compliments from Seattle, Killer Ghost and Gang Cult will be performing as well. All four bands emphasize surf rock, though each distinguished by their quirks. I'd rather not say making this your plans for the evening is a no-brainer, but what else would you do for $5?
 
- Colette Pomerleau


Us Lights European Tour Kickoff at Mississippi Studios 8.19

Tuesday will mark the first headline show at Mississippi Studios for Us Lights. It is also be the kick off of their European tour. Joining them will be Hosannas and Yeah Great Fine, making it yet again a blinding display of the Portland scene.

Yeah Great Fine's fluid polyrhythms lay underneath some seriously catchy pop ditties. Reminiscent of 90s video game themes, these boys will make even the most uptight ears twitch. Their song Manifest Destiny's Child a personal favorite­ because, quite frankly, we could all use a little Beyonce spirit from time to time. Tight harmonies and percussive genius make this a great start to the night. 

Hosannas next with a slightly more ominous tone. These punching drums and distorted whispers of melodies are haunting and thought provoking, and tracks like Cccloud smack with an Art Garfunkel influence that is hard not to love. 

Michael Young's vocals for Us Lights are breathtaking. As rich as Rufus Wainwright, his tone soars over beautiful, classic synth melodies. This five piece produce an incredibly dynamic tease of clean emotive pop. I defy you to not be blown away.

- Jennie Chapman

Photo of Us Lights by Peter Rasmussen

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Hustle & Drone, AAN, and Com Truise at Star Theater 8.16

This weekend, the Red Bull Sound Select concert series continues its reign of killer showcases featuring some of the best local music any of us can find. This time around, the show is part of Portland’s long running music festival, MusicFest NW. Because of outdoor noise ordinances (boooo!) the festival will shut down at 10PM leaving a lot of room in the night for music. This is where the Red Bull team comes in to save the party.

Saturday night, at the Star Theater, RBSS have aligned two local acts to open for Com Truise (yes, you read that right). The first is the dreamy, electronic indie rockers, AAN. They are an extremely versatile band that can end a long, slow build up with thrashing guitars and high pitched vocals. Also opening the show is one of Portland’s favorite electronic groups, Hustle and Drone. This duo bases their music in electronic beats and heavy synth use, but play their tunes with a rock 'n roll, high-intensity that few electronic acts can pull off. The entire night is heavily based in electronics as the headliner all the way from Brooklyn is a synth wizard that mixes together music most appropriate for unnamed TRON sequels and robot porn. But I’m into that kinda stuff and will hopefully see you there. The show starts at 10pm, RSVP here to secure $3 entry. 

- Colin Hudson 

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Preview: PALS FEST 2014

Despite the arguably volatile conditions that have developed around the Portland music community as of late – hyper increased development in inner urban areas displacing low-income artist types and forcing venues to close; increased noise curfew enforcement; obtusely racist police interference with hip hop shows – there is still one beautiful, unalienable force that is overflowing throughout our tired and artistic collective: FRIENDSHIP.

PALS FEST 2014, taking place August 9th through 15th, is the perfect celebration of the friendship that ties together Portland’s musical community, and back for the festival's third year, the lineup couldn’t include any better best-bud-bands. This year, the celebration offers seven crazy nights of music, each at a different venue across town and curated by different local tastemakers, and all free or $5 entry. However, if you’re like most day-job slaving humanoids and don’t have the stamina to take in seven nights of live music in a row, here is our abridged list of shows you probably don’t want to miss:

Saturday, 8.9, FREE - Hustle & Drone and Hosannas at Pals Clubhouse
Danceable and soulful, electronic based pop music in an intimate backyard setting close enough for you to walk there and stumble home.
 
Sunday, 8.10, FREEWooden Indian Burial Ground and Cambrian Explosion at Rontoms
Portland’s psych revival at its finest, playing out on the back patio of Rontoms, these bands will have you looking in your head or towards the stars.
 
Friday, 8.15, FREEAAN, Grandparents and Mascaras at the Firkin Tavern
You couldn’t get more bang for your buck even if you paid a cover for it. Easily three of the city’s best bands in one of the last few true dive-bar venues, this type of thing won’t happen much longer.  
 
- Travis Leipzig

Preview: Portland Happening & Psych Fest 8.9

Big news for all you paisley-wearing, ‘60s-loving, long-locked garage-psych fanatics: now you don’t have to travel all the way to Austin, Texas for the psych festival of your dreams. Introducing, A Beautiful Thing: Portland Happening and Psych Fest, including The Sellwoods, The Verner Pantons, The Mirrors, The Dandelyons, and The Pynnacles--the best plural noun pop acts this grand city has to offer. All right, so the Portland rendition of Psych Fest is technically not curated by The Black Angels and doesn’t feature an international spectrum of psychedelic rock bands, but the the festival that we know and drool over each year started from the same humble beginnings.

The magic is happening August 9, 9pm at The Analog Cafe & DRD Records Theater (720 SE Hawthorne). Starting the night off will be The Sellwoods, the distinctly more punk-inclined band of the lineup, who will drop fuzz bombs into your ear canals with their snotty garage rippers. Later on, The Dandelyons will melt away your woes with their beachy flower-pop. Each tune begs for your feet to do the Twist and your hands to clap to the beat. At the end of the night, The Pynnacles will induce a 13th Floor Elevators-laced trip with psychedelic keyboard textures, reverb-smothered guitar, and frontman Sean Croghan’s hoarse soulful vocals.

Come be a part of this Beautiful Thing and it may end up Happening again.

- Bryce Woodcock

Photo of The Pynnacles by John Keel


The Autonomics Release 'Keep Tulsa Ugly' 8.5 at Bunk Bar

Welp, better go give your money to the Autonomics. The Portland trio puts out it’s newest EP Keep Tulsa Ugly tuesday, 8.5.14. The self-release is a fuzzy, grunge-pop snapshot of the band’s tour-tight sound. Recorded in less than two days, the songs are crunchy, raw, and full of energy--a perfect representation of their gnarly (in a good way) live set. All five songs smash through your ears in just under 13 minutes. The track “I love you, Oprah Winfrey” will have you humming and la-la..ing along in no time. Shit is catchy.  

Check out the new songs and see The Autonomics at Bunk Bar with Psychomagic and Mufassa tonight. Show starts at 9pm. $5 gets you in, and a free download card for the EP.

- Chandler Strutz

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