Friday, August 27, 2010

q/a : four years of horror : strength’s ‘darker’ sophomore album

What are three art school, almost 30-something white boys doing making funky, sexalicious music? Not asking for your permission, Strength is telling you, “Let’s get down” with the release of their second–long, long, long-awaited–album, Mind-Reader. The self-produced, recorded and released album comes out on September 3rd, coinciding with a CD release gig at Holocene with Fake Drugs, DJ Copy, and DJ Patricia Furpurse.

Feeling up MJ and Prince for their goodies, the California-natives but PDX-transplants since ‘03 set out to make a horror-dance album but got distracted along the way by their normal shenanigans of sexy electro-funk-soul. And why shouldn’t they get diverted? …While diverting themselves with their tongue-in-cheekiness. Ridiculous lyrics, indelible riffs and thumping beats make you wanna get up and freak your girl while trying to lay her down.

Looking to make a “darker” sophomore album, Bailey Winters (vox), John Zeigler (keys, programming), and Patrick Morris (guitars, programming) didn’t get distracted with the production, it consumed them–every sound is delicately and deliberately placed. This is why it took them so damn long–four years long–for the release of album #2. But being seriously scrupulous doesn’t mean they can’t have fun, including a vampire track (“Blood” with lyrics “My body’s weak, I’m out of time, I need her blood before sunrise”) and a bit of punk rock, albeit still quite smoothly produced punkiness, on the energetic “Disaster.”

“I thought it would be great to just have a punk song, one of our own,” says lead singer Bailey Winters. “And it goes over pretty well. I think it shakes things up a little bit.”

Read the rest of the interview and download a new track on OMN.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

omn’s picks : bumbershoot celebrates 40 years

Celebrating 40 years, Seattle’s annual Bumbershoot Music & Arts Festival takes place at the Seattle Center over Labor Day Weekend–September 4th through 6th. As Seattle’s longest-running music and arts festival, the festival provides a forum for hundreds of artists to gather under a creative bumbershoot, meaning umbrella, in front of more than 150,000 visitors who will come to see and hear the confluence of music, film, theater, comedy, dance, spoken word, visual arts, and kids activities.

With 35+ musical performers each day, Bumbershoot’s 2010 lineup features artists spanning more than four decades of music with headliners like Bob Dylan, Weezer, Hole, Billy Bragg, and Mary J. Blige playing alongside indie rock talent like Surfer Blood and Atlas Sound and the up-and-coming MTV-class of Drake, J. Cole, and LMFAO. International flavors are provided by niche-industry mainstays like Balkan Beat Box, The Budos Band and Ozomatli, while Oregon talent will be represented by The Decemberists, The Dandy Warhols, Loch Lomond, The Thermals, Laura Veirs, and Horse Feathers.

Check out all of OMN's picks here.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

fuck you

Hot. Full video out next week, album The Lady Killer out on October 4th. Get two new tracks for the price of your email.

Friday, August 20, 2010

lady gaga’s clash

With tens of millions of album sales worldwide, hundreds of millions of YouTube views, and tickets starting at $49.50 (sans service charge) and sweeping up to a whopping $175 for last night’s sold-out-in-minutes Gaga extravaganza at the Rose Garden, Stefani Germanotta is raking in the dough. Billboard Magazine estimates that The Monster Ball Tour will gross some $200 million worldwide when it finishes next year.

But don’t think she’s not gracious. Or generous.

Especially when she announces, “I don’t want your money Portland, I want your soul.”

How altruistic.

When Lady Gaga addressed the crowd, she spoke in just two distinct tones: a calm, sultry, quiet chatter and a deranged, at times unintelligible, scream. Placidly, even apathetically, Gaga repeatedly thanked Portland: “Thank you. Thank you for buying a ticket to see my show,” followed by the feral, self-indulgent screech of: “Lady GAGA!!!”

It’s hard to really understand what’s happening inside that Gaga mind.

Before she took the stage, her prerecorded voice inspired the first massive waves of incessant screaming as she tackled a serious issue: helping homeless youth, especially those that have been forced from their homes by parents because they are gay, lesbian or transgender. Along with tour sponsor Virgin Mobile, the two have established a charity and Lady Gaga reiterated (twice) that for every dollar you donate, she will match it… up to $25,000. (You can watch a video of the speech here.)

She does care. Right?

Costumes and hair art galore, the fans were giddy with Gaga riding the MAX and filling the beer gardens before her set. Many midriffs were bared entering the arena, and there was a man in makeup and a miniskirt with his well-maintained mustache. Although there were groups of all ages (including grade schoolers) and orientations, a large swath of the audience was made up of teenage girls (and their mothers) and 20-something gay men.

So what other messages of Gaga wisdom did she have to impart upon us adoring fans?

“I dunno if you heard but I have a pretty tremendous dick. So get your dicks out because I heard they have some pretty tremendous cocks in Portland. Now dance you motherfuckers!!!”

Read the rest on OMN.

soft metals’ discovery

Less than six months ago, Soft Metals were still in their infancy. The duo, and couple, of DJs Patricia Furpurse and Ian Hixx were making music mostly for themselves.

They were discovering their sound–a mix of electronic industrial and darkwave, Italo disco and ’80s Chicago house; their musical abilities–how to produce and record; and each other, as their romantic relationship evolved as well.

With Ian’s analog synthesizers and Patricia’s spectral vocals, Soft Metals shared some songs on the internet and played a few gigs, until friend and fellow musician, Rafael Fauria of The Miracles Club, posted a demo of “Love or Music” on his blog in late February. Charting their internet orbit, the track was re-posted on Gorilla vs. Bear, 20jazzfunkgreats, and finally the heaviest hitter of them all: Pitchfork.

Feeling the cyber-love, Soft Metals were encouraged knowing that “we had an audience and that people appreciated what we were doing,” says Patricia. “So we knew we should keep working in that direction.”

After the buzz from the blogosphere, labels started knocking or emailing or whatever they do these days. The two weren’t sure if they were quite ready to expose themselves to the world let alone commit anything to record.

But as Patricia says, “When an opportunity like that arises, you have to go with it. You may never have people’s [or labels'] interest again.” Soft Metals decided to go with the Brooklyn-based label Captured Tracks based on a “gut feeling” that it was the right place for them.

Read the rest on OMN.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

nurses : oiliest act in town

Known for their transience in music and mind, body and band, Nurses have been dawdling around Portland, just maybe coming to a halt, calling our city home. With their trippy pop and backwards rock, the trio’s quirky sounds are layered dreams that feel like you’re listening to multiple songs at once. Seeping through the sieve of their textures emerges a rusty but sunny sound that’s dysfunctionally charming and gorgeously psychedelic.

Wanderers at heart, this journey began in Idaho Falls, Idaho as Aaron Chapman met John Bowers over a decade ago.

“Yeah, we met in the 19 hundred 99’s,” says Aaron. “We had some mutual friends who played music, and we all got together one day to play music in a basement, and we accidentally kept playing music ever since. We probably played a song before we had a conversation.”

Since then they have been through “two major” incarnations, says John. Originally a quartet, the boys moved from Idaho to SoCal where they self-recorded and released their debut, Hangin’ Nothin’ But Our Hands Down, in 2007.

Come 2007 John and Aaron moved to Portland after stints in Chicago and four or five months living in their van. “We moved to Portland on a whim and everything just made sense,” says Aaron. “We didn’t even know Portland had such a great music and art community, we just thought it sounded like a fun idea. Personally and musically it’s been great for us.”

They soon met James Mitchell, and “James joined the band basically right as we moved to Portland. He let us sleep on his couches for weeks because we didn’t have a place,” says John. “When we were offered a show, we asked James if he knew anyone who played drums, and he said something like, “Did you guys know I play drums?”

Joining Dead Oceans, the three-piece released their sophomore album, Apple’s Acre, in May of 2009. Always busy with something, the boys have been surprisingly inactive (or off the radar) all summer, but they’ll play their only Portland gig this Thursday, August 26th at Holocene with “oily” friends Dragging an Ox Though Water and Operative before stomping around Western Europe in September.

“We’re touring quite a bit now which satisfies the wanderlust,” says Aaron, “and Portland is a great place to come home to.”

Read the rest of the interview on OMN.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

alucinante : rodrigo y gabriela at edgefield

Seated on industrial gray equipment boxes, classical Spanish guitars began their ramble last night–a trek that took the crowded grass at McMenamins Edgefield to the Orient and England, from Latin America to Seattle, guided by two casual, unassuming players: Rodrigo y Gabriela.

Indubitably Mexico City’s finest flamenco-metal fusion band, Rod y Gab come from thrash metal beginnings but gained a following while busking in Ireland, performing their unparalleled style: a classical, acoustic sound with a rock’n'roll heart. Quite possibly a singular entity in the entire world, their success stems from two things: pure skill and graciousness.

And a dedicated following is always present to see both whenever the duo comes to town.

Entering silent and subdued, their hands spoke. Attentively watching one another, the duo quickly found their rhythm and shared it with the crowd, rising and pacing the stage, stopping at either end, then standing side by side. Squaring off, Rodrigo y Gabriela do not duel–they each present a piece of the puzzle and the other builds off the provided energy and flair. Both guitar necks angled skyward, their hands hurtled forward on divergent courses. With speed and dexterity, Gabriela’s rhythms scatted and knocked, slapped and clapped the body of the guitar running at a breathless pace while Rodrigo’s lead could whisper and roar.

Seeing is believing: There really were only four hands on stage although you likely heard many more.

Read the rest and see more photos on OMN.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

intoxicating : chromeo funks up the roseland

Chromeo is breaching new waters of popularity. With a new album, Business Casual, on the way in September and rave reviews from high-profile festivals, like Bonnaroo where they shared the stage with Daryl Hall, the Québécois electrofunk duo has officially sailed from hipster island into markedly bro-friendly waters.

Maybe it’s the fact that the tour was brought to us by Mountain Dew (and their record label Green Label Sound) or the simple irresistibility of Chromeo’s MJ vs. Prince-inspired beats, but their brand of dance is currently attracting malnourished hipsters as easily as beefy frat boys–bridging the gap between a cross-section of culture that usually sticks to their own locales: The former with their DJs and sweaty mess of Tube and later across the street at Dirty.

Yet, last night, a sold-out Roseland Theater on Friday the 13th told a different story. Amongst bro hugs and nasty grinding, there were also skinny jeaned boys and girls getting down to the same indelible guitar riffs, programmed beats, and robo talkbox.

Not just getting down, Portland was in heat last night for Chromeo: immensely uninhibited and drunk, drunk, drunk. Bikini tops galore, in neon, gold and leopard print, ran around the dance floor as bros booty slapped (each other and females), trying to garner attention from the bikinis and secure a dance partner for the funky, freaky last set.

Some snarky hipsters will be disappointed in Chromeo’s new-found demographic but you can’t knock a band for continuing to do exactly what they were created to do. And that went a little something like this:

As the lights went down and the crowd chanted “Chro-me-o, OOO,” a red neon Chromeo logo glowed on high as Dave 1 and P-Thugg entered to the same “Intro” track from their second album, Fancy Footwork. Blinding strobes pulsed, and a wall of white lights silhouetted the two standing behind their flashing, color-changing light up legs (which were hardly visible unless you were in the very front).

Focusing on hits from Fancy Footwork, a few girls bounced on shoulders as the goofy funk of “Outta Sight” sounded even sillier live. But it served to lubricate the crowd with exactly what they wanted as Dave 1 and P-Thugg tossed vocals back and forth and each grabbed sticks for quick drum breakdowns and cowbell clacks into an all-audience sing along on “Tenderoni.”

Read the rest on OMN.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

flamenco-metal fusion : rodrigo y gabriela at edgefield

Take one part heavy metal and mix with two parts classical Spanish guitars and you’ve got a recipe for the world’s most stunning uproar of flamenco-metal fusion: Rodrigo y Gabriela.

The Mexican duo last visited Portland’s Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall in October but they’re back, bringing their fast-paced, rhythmically vibrant, acoustic sound to McMenamins Edgefield on Saturday, August 14th. Best-selling Aussie singer-songwriter Xavier Rudd, newly backed by Tio and Andile under the new group Xavier Rudd & Izintaba, opens.

After more than 15 years of playing together, Rodrigo y Gabriela’s live performances are unparalleled. The pair exudes an intense energy that will make your heart race in tune with Gabriela’s lightning fingers on rhythm guitar.

Each dexterous strum of Rodrigo’s lead guitar sends a barrage of tonal messages as a powerful musical bond between the two musicians unfolds before you eyes. You will feel synapses sparking as increasingly complex arrangements and sheer speed awe you. Mouth agape in a crooked grin, you will be enchanted by the ease at which they play.

Read the rest on OMN.

Friday, August 6, 2010

chrome + romeo : electrofunk’s finest romantics chromeo come to the roseland

It’s been three years since Québécois electrofunk masters Chromeo showed their faces around Portland–and it’s not because they were run out of town by snarky hipsters. On the contrary, as their fame swells, so does the love they receive, now encompassing other schools including indie kids, DJs and clubbers.

Regardless of their mounting success, the two funk-heads remain down-to-earth, continuing to spend their lives studying the ’70s and ’80s grooves that populate their tunes, meticulous placing each beat, chord progression, and vocal harmony into each track.

“It’s a long process,” says P-Thugg, one half of the Chromeo duo along with childhood friend Dave 1. “It’s a true craft. We do it out of love.”

In the summer of ‘07, Chromeo was touring in support of their second, and breakout, album Fancy Footwork and played a packed house at Rotture. This time they’re headlining the Roseland Theater on Friday, August 13th and preparing to release their third studio album, Business Casual out on September 14th. When they visit Portland, they’ll be just over halfway through their North American dates and ramping up to play the Hollywood Bowl with the legendary Chemical Brothers and Portland electro-ideologists YACHT.

The team of Dave 1 and P-Thugg, self-dubbed as “the only successful Arab/Jewish partnership since the dawn of human culture,” have hit some huge career highs this past year–namely earning praise from personal idols Hall and Oates, with the former inviting Chromeo to his home to practice and perform on a webisode of Live From Daryl’s House. This experiment spawned a one-off performance of Daryl Hall and Chromeo live at this year’s Bonnaroo festival.

Revealing just two tracks so far from their upcoming release, Chromeo has remained true to their ethos giving fans glimpses of their old selves while stepping up the complexity of their music.

“We tried to balance it out between having a bit of an evolution musically and staying fun,” says P-Thugg.

Read the rest of the interview on OMN.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

pdx pop now! 2010

Spent a lot of time at Rotture this weekend covering the seventh annual PDX Pop Now! festival. Oregon Music News watched and wrote about two-thirds of the 48 bands that performed. Had a blast and wanted to congratulate all the organizers, volunteers, and attendees on a great fest.

Get complete coverage of the 2010 PDX Pop Now! festival on OMN.