Sunday, October 31, 2010

sufjan stevens stuns at the schnitz

After five years of waiting, Sufjan Stevens indulged his devout fans with 20 new songs, over 2 hours of new music in the form of an hour-long EP, All Delighted People, and a much-awaited sixth album, The Age of Adz. And as he thanked the attentively passionate Portland audience on Friday, October 29th at a sold-out Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall for their “patience and fortitude,” Sufjan acknowledged that his fans had no clue that come performance date he’d have released two new albums in the span of just two months but also that he’d be performing exclusively new material.

He expressed gratitude for the troopers in his ten-piece band and then he unleashed “the epic mini-series” of a song, the collusion and conglomeration of everything that had happened in the minutes, the hours, the days, the months, the years, and the decades leading up to the creation of The Age of Adz, which drew inspiration from the art and life of a schizophrenic Louisianan sign-maker and self-proclaimed prophet, Royal Robertson. All the self-isolation and self-destruction, the pending apocalypse and past abductions, pyschobabble and prophecy and catastrophe, love and loss, affection and affliction: The sum of all these things was a 26-minute live rendition of “Impossible Soul,” the closing track on Sufjan Stevens’ latest album. This came as the second to last song of his set (excluding encore) and after ten songs exclusively from the aforementioned albums.

Patient we were, but also captivated. The breadth of talent on that stage was absolutely entrancing and even though many came to hear tales of Illinois and Michigan (with a few no doubt crossing their fingers for a future taste of Oregon) or even delicate banjo plucking, not a soul was disappointed.

Sufjan’s jerky dance moves coaxed chuckles, his costumed props added smiles, and his Auto-Tuned vox on “Impossible Soul” may have drawn outright laughs but it was only because we were unaccustomed to such a dramatic, artistic transformation performed so perfectly. With two drummers on two drums kits–including electronic drum pads–two female back up vocalists and dancers, two and three trombonists, two on keys and piano, two on guitars (bass, electric, acoustic, banjo), and Sufjan before his lectern, the execution was impeccable. There were no loops. The intricacies of the highly electronic Adz were entirely accomplished with live instruments. The opening, ode to Paul Simon, “All Delighted People” carried tangible power for the initial eleven minutes...

Read the rest and see photos on OMN.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

janelle monáe’s archandroid reigns supreme

“You will dance or die!” announced the The ArchAndroid Janelle Monáe, her massive golden face glowing from two video screens behind her dapper band. Addressing Portland from the year 2719, the messiah android told that contrary to popularly held fears robots and humans of the future could live together in harmony. But the atmosphere quickly turned to a more primitive state. Aboriginal faces emblazoned the same screens as rapper-poet Saul William’s recorded voice set off the aforementioned “Dance Or Die.” Backs to the audience, three cloaked druid figures bobbed their conical protrusions before one revealed her face.

Throwing off her cape on Thursday night opening for of Montreal, Janelle Monáe strutted forward to tell a robo-tale and the Roseland screamed. Puffed white shoulders and an Elizabethan ruff around her neck, the girl rearranged the acts of Suites II and III from her debut studio album The ArchAndroid to a share the fictional story of a messianic android, Cindi Mayweather, a concept which is adapted from and influenced by the 1927 German-expressionist film Metropolis, as her 2007 EP was titled as such: Metropolis: Suite I (The Chase).

With her incredible afro jutting out front and drawing attention to the whites of her wide eyes, the tiny android diva commanded alone with presence and performance but shattered minds with her pipes. From soulful ballads that enraptured to impenetrable raps, Janelle Monáe’s set was seamless and theatrical complete with a Halloween vibe and costumed back up dancers–from the living dead stalking about in white-beaked, Venetian Medico Della Peste masks on “Sincerely, Jane” with arms extended to the lyrics “Are we really living or just walking dead now?” to her two girls in nun-like smocks.

Janelle Monáe’s expressions were deadpan robotic and serious while her saddle shoed moves were so perfect that they could have only been preprogrammed. From ballerina-esque poses to jittering possessed, she maintained a fluid elegance as she put her knee up and slithered deftly across the stage. The biggest shame was that most of audience on the floor could not she those toes tap. The woman needed, and deserved, a pedestal.

The show flowed continuously, telling her story as instrumental ludes from her talented boys filled the gaps between songs with selections from her album or a snippet of “The Star-Spangled Banner” ala Hendrix. A practiced duet with of Montreal’s singer Kevin Barnes on “Make The Bus” (the band appears on the recorded track) made the flamboyant Barnes look like a gawky teenager asking the belle of the ball for dance. The girl has a vision and the liquid moves to go with. Her uber-smoothness simply made Barnes seem awkward. No easy feat.

Back to “Wondaland” we went as Janelle Monáe hit...

Read the rest and see more photos on OMN.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

sufjan stevens indulges us… + himself

Sufjan Stevens has, yet again, evolved into a new beast. But there’s no mistaking that his just-released, sixth album is anything but his own. The Age of Adz (pronounced “odds”) is his first full-length album in five years and it’s announcement came just weeks after his surprise, late-August release of an EP of new material on Bandcamp.

Sufjan Stevens has been dropping hints for years, clues of his penchant for marrying electronic elements with his complexly layered symphonic compositions, especially on 2009′s multi-disciplinary project BQE (most notably on “Movement IV: Traffic Shock”) and of course on 2001′s electronic Enjoy Your Rabbit. It was only a matter of time until he put out a staggering work that combined to two.

But with the release of his digi-EP, All Delighted People, Sufjan discarded those electronic elements, yet retained his epic, balladeering nature (and many of the natural bird warbles) with the opening, title track clocking in at more than 11 minutes (“All Delighted People” was originally workshopped on Sufjan’s fall tour in 2009) and the closing track (“Djohariah,” a guitar jam-for-single-mothers) just breaking 17 minutes. The release, which was available for download the same day that its existence was announced, received mixed reviews. Many were disappointed as the EP seemed to chronicle discarded ideas (it was publicized that the EP is “a dramatic homage to the Apocalypse, existential ennui, and Paul Simon’s Sounds of Silence“), and whether it was his strongest work, worthy of release after such a lengthy wait, or not, true fans rejoiced for the insight (and chance to hear) inside his prolific mind.

Then Sufjan dropped the real bomb. Just days later, his record label Asthmatic Kitty announced the October 12th release of The Age of Adz, and with Adz, Sufjan has smoothly combined his electronic passions with his symphonic nature, replete with trilling flutes, dramatic strings, immense choral arrangements, and whispery, lulling vocals.

Creating new textures on 11 tracks, this experimental marriage is typified by the opening of the second track on Adz. “Too Much” clashes The Flaming Lips with Trent Reznor, all molded and held together by Sufjan’s folk sensibilities and cleverly delivered lyrics. (Listen and download for free on OMN.) Later in the song, the 8-bit electro jitters while a chanting chorus of female voices float behind the scenes ultimately closing with a glitchy but flutteringly symphonic (that screams of Sufjan’s distinct arrangement) run out.

Read the rest on OMN.

Friday, October 22, 2010

q/a : mnemonic sounds moves forward

Megan Ouchida and Peter Suk went to the same church as children, but Peter was several years her senior and moved away before they properly knew each other. By 2008, Megan had already released two albums of beautifully tranquil electroacoustic pop when a mutual friend shared some of Megan’s solo work with Peter. Impressed, Peter immediately befriended her and asked if Megan would sing backup on some of the recordings he was producing.

It started with the two sending tracks back and forth via email, a la The Postal Service (“but in the same city,” adds Peter). The collaboration quickly grew and they decided to record a full-length album together under the name Mnemonic Sounds. After a year and a half and the addition of two more players to supplement the live show and recordings, the band released their debut album Muscle Memories on July 22nd, 2010 with a gig at the Doug Fir.

Now Megan Ouchida (vocals, synths, guitars, bass, programming) and Peter Suk (vocals, synths, guitars, bass, programming) have teamed up with Patrick Hughes (drums, programming) and Michael Blake (lead guitar) to create warm Postal Service-esque electro-pop where the wispy, throaty harmonies of Megan intertwine with Peter’s composed masculine vox and intricate orchestrations. Delicately mesmerizing, Mnemonic Sounds’ hard work is quickly soliciting a bright future with the band recently opening for Phantogram at Mississippi Studios plus garnering licensing opportunities, radio (and phone) play, and there are more recordings coming soon.

Leave a comment on OMN for your chance to win a copy of Mnemonic Sounds' debut CD and two tickets to their gig at Backspace on Friday, October 29th with Galaxy Farm.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

big boi’s only nw stop is up north

The creative people at Seattle’s City Arts Magazine have put together an impressive, first-year festival for this weekend, and although almost all of the national acts–like She & Him, Belle & Sebastian, Gogol Bordello, Foals and more–stop through Oregon before or after their time up north, one notable act completely left our state off his current tour.

That man would be the million-monikered godfather of speedballin’ ATL rap.

Mister Antwan André Patton, one half of earth-shattering duo OutKast, graces Seattle’s Showbox SoDo stage on Saturday, October 23rd as a thirty-five-year-old solo artist with a “grown-man persona” who has now proven, with the release of his debut solo album (even though we all had no doubts), that he is one of the freshest and most innovative voices in hip-hop today, even when he’s alone.

Daddy Fat Sax aka General Patton aka Sir Lucious Left Foot aka Billy Ocean aka Francis the Savannah Chitlin Pimp aka Big Boi fought the label and won, finally releasing his solo debut, Sir Lucious Left Foot… Son of Chico Dusty, after more than a year of contractual struggles with Jive Records before dropping the album in July on Def Jam. But for months and months preceding the album’s release, Big Boi hyped up the hip-hop world leaking tracks and videos for “Shine Blockas” featuring Gucci Mane, “Fo Yo Sorrows” featuring George Clinton, Too $hort and Sam Chris, “Royal Flush” featuring Andre 3000 and Raekwon (which didn’t make the album cut), and the album’s first single “Shutterbugg” featuring Cutty (below).

And since the album’s release there’s been more video-flash with the Vonnegutt featured “Follow Us” and “You Ain’t No DJ” featuring Yelawolf. Still dripping with his Dirty South style from bounce to 808-driven basslines, Big Boi has infused more indie rock (Vonnegutt), dubstep, grunge rock guitars (“Tangerine”), space funk synths, and the lovely contrast of dirty interludes with a sexy soulful voice like Janelle Monáe (“Be Still”).

The only thing missing from his debut solo release? Notably the voice of Andre 3000. He did collaborate with his old partner in crime...

Read the rest on OMN.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

omn reveals the angry orts as the final act at our free, first anniversary party

Oregon Music News is delighted to announce that the final act celebrating our first anniversary at The Secret Society Ballroom on Tuesday, October 26th will be Portland’s bouncing indie rock quartet The Angry Orts.

Pulsing with sexuality, the dance-y rock quartet is fronted by the deliciously demanding vocals of lead singer Sara Hernandez. Leading her boys into battle with a tambourine in hand and a don’t-mess-with-me swagger, the tight band of guitarist Aaron Ettlin, bassist James Puryear, and drummer Mathew Hernandez backs her already powerful presence. Part garage singed with a bit of surf and plenty of pop that really bops and rocks, the four play with the confidence and expert cohesiveness that is only earned by putting in their time together.

Earlier this year, The Orts were featured on the 2010 PDX Pop Now! compilation (as well as playing the CD release gig), released their self-titled second, album in August, and now they just finished up a West Coast tour at the beginning of this month, which saw OMN covering their stellar San Fran gig.

With a self-proclaimed sound of: “Hot sex. For your ears.” The Angry Orts will be closing out OMN’s First Anniversary at 9:30pm following sets from the PDX Jazz All-Star Jam with vocalist Kelley Shannon, pianist Dan Gaynor, bassist Sam Howard and drummer Carlton Jackson at 7:30pm and 3 Leg Torso at 8:30pm. Spinning in between bands will be Bhangra-Bollywood beat makers DJ Anjali & The Incredible Kid.

Come celebrate our birthday on October 26th. Invite your friends, there’ll be a no-host bar and snacks courtesy of The Secret Society (next to the Wonder Ballroom) and a raffle with a chance to win some great prizes and gift certificates.

There will be cake! And the party is free!

Read this article on OMN.

Friday, October 15, 2010

road journal : q/a with starfucker’s ryan biornstad

They’ve given up silly name changes and they’ve given up on the labels that asked for those changes. They’ve given up compromising their artistic integrity and values… wait Starfucker has values?

What thankfully remains true is that Portland’s most adored indie-electro-pop darlings Starfucker will be releasing their second album under their god-given, started-as-a-joke name after inking a deal with Polyvinyl Records’ West Coast office in San Francisco.

Yet, the latest press release from their new big box publicity company officially refers to the band as STRFKR (even misspelling the new abbreviated/acronymed moniker as STFKR in the title of the email… man those letters are difficult!). Although, it seems that Starfucker long ago accepted this fate when they reverted back to their original being, using the letter mash in for their current MySpace URL ( and even allowing the family-friendly-spell-out-expletives-because-Johnny-is-too-young-to-understand-and-easily-fooled-by-comic-strip-cursing-#@$%!-approved Starf*cker.

Do you think all the past name changes have hurt Starfucker at all?

Succinctly and assuredly put: “No. It made it better,” says Ryan Biornstad.

Throughout it all, one thing has remained constant: the music. And the fact that Portland wants more of it. Playing their biggest gig to date at the Roseland Theater on Wednesday, October 20th, Starfucker has been co-headlining their current tour with the tight experimental pop of Austin’s The Octopus Project–traveling together and trading off nights as the closer depending on the city or whichever band ate the most cherry pies at lunch. Joining the tourmates are Portland disco-funk favorites Strength and indie-pop rockers Super XX Man.

OMN spoke to Ryan Biornstad on the phone from Washington DC when the band had just breached the two-week mark of their five-week tour and was heading to Philadelphia. Here’s the dish on Starfucker’s new album out in March (if they meet all their deadlines), a road diary of their creepy adventures, and a freshly “amped up” live show featuring tight new tracks off the new album. And you can bet your sweet ass that means new costumes!

Listen to the first single "Julius," available for purchase here...

Read the rest on OMN.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

dj anjali + the incredible kid to spin at omn’s free, first anniversary party

OMN is proud to announce that Portland’s longest purveyors of Bhangra-Bollywood beats will be making booties bounce at our one year anniversary party on Tuesday, October 26th at The Secret Society Ballroom (next to the Wonder Ballroom). The dance party making duo of DJ Anjali & The Incredible Kid will be spinning from doors open at 7pm until the final band, which is still to be announced.

Anjali & The Incredible Kid are best known for their well-established (now more than eight years running!) night ANDAZ, touted as “Portland’s original Bhangra/Bollywood/Urban Desi Dance Party,” which now takes place every first Saturday at Rotture after a long run at the Fez Ballroom.

Also performing on October 26th will be the PDX Jazz All-Star Jam with vocalist Kelley Shannon, pianist Dan Gaynor, bassist Sam Howard and drummer Carlton Jackson making up the core quartet. They will perform at 7:30pm followed by 3 Leg Torso at 8:30pm. Invite your friends, there’ll be a bar and snacks courtesy of The Secret Society and a raffle with a chance to win some great prizes and gift certificates.

And best of all, the party is free!

Get the rest of the details on OMN.

the dandy warhols say farewell to satyricon

As OMN published back in September, Portland is saying farewell to Satyricon… for good. The building has been bought and will be demolished to create new facilities for our city’s disadvantaged. But before the legendary rock’n'roll club (dubbed by some as CBGB of the West Coast) closes its doors on Halloween, patrons and bands will be celebrating the history of the loud, gritty music made within its walls.

And the biggest of these gigs will be The Dandy Warhols reunited. The original lineup will be in the house with The Dandys’ drummer Eric Hedford (who left the group in 1998) performing with Courtney Taylor-Taylor, Peter Holmström, and Zia McCabe on Saturday, October 16th, 2010. Bringing the house down with Swoon 23 and Sugarboom, this one-time only Dandys performance will feature select tracks from the first two Dandy Warhols’ albums… and oh man, is it ever sold out (and the limited-edition tickets feature the same Slick Willie imagery as the poster on the front as above and a grainy shot of the band with wine in hand circa-’95 on the reverse).

During it’s quarter-century, Satyricon was one of the influential clubs where The Dandys got their start in ’94 and to say farewell, they’ll grace the stage one final time in front of a mere couple hundred. (Only 240 tickets were sold for the gig.)

Read the rest on OMN.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

die antwoord : south africa’s zef, hi-nrg hip-hop

South African pop-culture doesn’t often make its way across the globe to the States but Cape Town’s Die Antwoord have quickly built a worldwide following. With more than 8 million YouTube views for their video “Enter The Ninja,” Die Antwoord visited North America for the first time as the first ever South African act to play Coachella and followed that up this summer with more North American dates, playing with two HARD dates with MIA in LA and NYC, before announcing a 13-date US tour for this fall.

Hitting Portland’s Crystal Ballroom on Thursday, October 14th, Die Antwoord has quickly taken hold of American audiences with their unmistakable brand of English/Afrikaans profane, rave rap. Afrikaans for The Answer, it’s hard to decipher what exactly the question was, but their popularity is evident when you take into consideration that MIA stops through Portland four days later at the Roseland, a venue of comparable size to the Crystal.

“Enter The Ninja” (above) samples the refrain from “Butterfly” (released by in 1998 but made famous by Dance Dance Revolution) and the video, released in 2009 by South African cinematographer Rob Malpage with Die Antwoord’s lead vocalist Ninja as the co-director, took nine months to gain any buzz but when it did, it blew up–instantly becoming an international viral phenomenon. Featuring Leon Botha, a prominent Cape Town artist and one of the world’s oldest survivors of progeria, it drew so much traffic worldwide to Die Antwoord’s official site that their hosting was disabled because of massive bandwidth overages, forcing the band to transfer to another, better equipped provider.

This sudden rise is also due to Die Antwoord’s antics. But do Die Antwoord represent a swath of modern, white South African society? They’re not so much a rap group as they are actors, adopting a coloured-Afrikaans-gangster-lower-class culture with sleek production and dirty (yet sometimes meaningful) ditties.

Read the rest on OMN.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

the ascetic junkies mature… into youthfulness

No longer singing about vampires, The Ascetic Junkies are contemplating a move to Canada because neither God nor the Devil nor even the Gov’t can answer their prayers or solve their problems.

Seriously? No, they’re not serious. They’re happy here!

Arriving in Portland in 2008 with an album in hand, the couple of Kali Giaritta and Matt Harmon put out their debut, One Shoe Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, with just two Junkies on board. But the self-proclaimed whiskey stompers quickly grew and are set to release their sophomore album This Cage Has No Bottom, an effort that features five band members and no electric guitar, as co-lead singer and songwriter Harmon likes to point out.

Like the first effort, the duo still wrote the album, but the rest of the band had a much bigger role this time around. “It was much more collaborative in terms of arrangements,” says Harmon plus the group had been playing these songs live for almost a year before recording them. Each band member had the opportunity to add his or her own flourishes, all five contributing their own ideas as the vocals, keys, glockenspiel and percussion of Kali Giaritta and vocals, guitar, keys and percussion of Matt Harmon were combined with Cole Huiskamp on bass, Graham Houser on banjo, and Stephen Colvin on drums. The album even includes contributions from Harmon’s mom and dad, on violin and trombone respectively. You can feel the intricacies. And even a little bit of maturity.

But maturity doesn’t mean you have to be stern and unsmiling. Even though there are serious themes (like the above “God/Devil/Gov’t”) throughout This Cage Has No Bottom, The Junkies will always retain their playful lyrical content and sound.

Leave a comment on OMN to win a copy of the new CD, a pint glass and two tickets the Junkies CD release gig at the Doug Fir on October 15th.

Friday, October 1, 2010

q/a : climber makes music for climber

What’s a rock star’s worst nightmare?

Growing up. It happens to us all. One morning you wake up and realize you’re getting old(er). You’re quickly approaching 30, you’ve got a wife, a house, a family, kids… and not the illegitimate, rock star kind. Gone are the days of packing up everything in van and touring the country. It’s time to reconsider what “making it” means to you.

But for Climber, “making it” means making music to please yourself. Making authentic music. And making the best music of their seven-year career.

On their third album in six years, Climber has finally found their sound with The Mystic. And it’s not one particular sound. Rather it’s an evolving soundscape of fresh experimentation full of layers that morph from rough Radiohead (“We Are the New Man”) to Muse-esque, piano-rocking balladry (“The Risk of the Middle Way”) to disconnected Menomena (“The Simians Speak”). Plus there’s the loving, meandering pop of their first single “I Have Seen Everything” (listen on here).

As they sing on the album’s second track “Stepping Into New Rooms”: “That thing isn’t giving me the thrill it used to.”

But Climber’s Michael Nelson (vocals, piano, Wurlitzer, organ, programming) has found something more substantial to give him and his band new thrills.

Read the complete interview on OMN.