Friday, June 21, 2013

radiation city : in the middle but on the way up

It's no coincidence that Radiation City's name starts with an informal adjective designed to describe themselves before you've even had a chance to finish saying, or comprehending, their name. They just put it out there at the beginning because they want you to know.

And it's true: They are Rad.

Although the majority of the five sexy band mates are in some sort of love affair with their other band members, there's still plenty of love to share. In recent times, since the May 21st release of Rad City's second full-length album, Animals in the Median, the rest of the nation has glommed on to the "Poitland" act's sultry blend of jazzy bossa nova tinged with electronics, which all the while maintains something slightly symphonic, yet ultimately remains deliciously danceable. Topped by breathy harmonies and the requisite serving of indie fuzz, the band says it best themselves: "Your parents' record collection spent some time on the event horizon, and this came out."

Not in love yet? Well, try to deny the retro flavor of "So Long," which is lucid and bleary at the same time:

Animals in the Median is another largely DIY effort (after their self-recorded debut and subsequent EP), but this time Radiation City's Cameron Spies, Lizzy Ellison, Randy Bemrose, Matt Rafferty and Patti King were joined by a few friends.

"There are some interesting things that are unique to this record for us, like the homies we worked with (mixer Sonny DiPerry, player Riley Geare) and the locations (rural Washington cabins, Oregon beach spots we shared with Josh Hodges [of Starfucker], et al., the various PDX homes, mixing at Jackpot!)," Bemrose explains. "All in all, we worked harder and longer on this record than any other before it. Hopefully you can hear that paying dividends on the album, but if nothing else, it has honed our skills as collaborators, engineers, producers, and players. We'll continue to try and raise the bar moving forward, but I expect it to be a good deal easier after all the heavy lifting we did on this one."

Progress is also represented by the album's title: "On one hand, it's evoking a highway median or midway—this haven for traveling creatures, a safe place surrounded by danger," Bemrose says. "On another hand, it's referencing the mathematical notion of the median, or the number that lies in the middle of any group of numbers, effectively bisecting the group into higher and lower. I like to think that that's where you are at any given moment, in the middle, with a choice or opportunity to strive for the higher, or fall into the lower."

Seeking "the higher," Radiation City took to the road on a nationwide tour as soon as the album dropped, but they're plenty happy to be wrapping up their jaunt right here at home.

"We're just excited to be playing Portland at the end of a tour for a change," Bemrose says. "Usually we play PDX and then leave for tour so we're still working out the kinks, fiddling with the song list we'll be drawing from, dialing in sounds... it'll be nice to be a well-oiled machine for y'all."

That machine (or animal) will perform at the Wonder Ballroom on Friday, June 28th with looped electronics and drums from Portland "nerd-wave" XDS and San Francisco's Social Studies, who are also supporting their second album, Developer. (Psst, fans of Beach House should definitely show early to enjoy this band fronted by vocalist and keyboard player Natalia Rogovin.)

And even though the gig hasn't even happened yet, here are a few reasons to look forward to what comes after the show.

Read the rest on OMN.

Friday, June 14, 2013

melville's upcoming 'maquette' is ready for release

Melville—Photo by Hanmi Hubbard Meyer
Ryan T. Jacobs' Melville is gearing up.

And although his new six-song EP, Maquette, doesn't officially come out until September 14th, the bandleader isn't simply sitting on the record until then. Rather, he's preparing himself and his band for a series of gigs that span the state at the end of the month.

In fact, it seems like Jacobs is constantly in a state of preparation. That and change. After almost three years in Portland, Jacobs, a Southern Oregon native, has been battling to get his music out into the world as he's dealt with a rotating cast of players while writing and recording new material as well as learning the local music scene, like how to get booked at respected venues like the Doug Fir and Mississippi Studios or how to get his music on the radio. (Melville's been featured on both KZME and KINK.)

But, the product of this process is a second EP under the Melville name, and the first single, "Forked Tongue," drops today.

A "caustic" rocker "about some of the unconscionable things people say or do to get ahead in any respective area (career, personal lives, etc.)," the track is anchored, as always, by Jacobs' genuine, emotive vocals. "They don't worry about what effects it may have on people they're involved with as long as they're able to, however incrementally, 'get ahead,'" Jacobs continues. "It's essentially just a roundabout way of calling those kind of people snakes. We all know those kinds of people and we all dislike them, yet they still somehow exist, and in certain unfortunate cases, even thrive."

Jacobs himself has been on a path of steady growth, one that's been more constructive and organic than the one he describes. Much like The Beatles who played the clubs of Hamburg to cut their chops, Jacobs spent four years in Berlin honing his songwriting craft and moving up in the world, from performing solo on street corners to selling out legitimate venues. Releasing his debut EP, The Places You Might Have Gone, in April 2009, Jacobs returned home to Oregon in 2011 but settled in Portland (rather than his hometown of Grants Pass). Deciding it was time to plant some roots and put together a band that could flesh out his songs, he started calling his project Melville and introduced this act at the LaurelThirst Pub in June 2011.

Of the six tracks on Maquette, a few are revisions of songs that appeared on Melville's debut EP, Erstwhile, but Jacobs says that the band, which currently features Tim Skerpon on drums, Thomas Yates on bass, and Jim Meyer on keys, "was integral in shaping how the songs sound on the record and how we interpret them live."

Read the rest on OMN.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

throw a neighborhood block party!

Summer’s here and a block party is a great excuse to get to know those neighbors who you only see traveling to and from work or taking out the trash. There are a few bureaucratic hoops to jump through with the city, but if you follow our advice, throwing your own block party should be a cinch.

Think of a block party as a potluck or barbecue-style event intended to attract only local residents who live on your street rather than a community event, like a street fair or farmers' market, which would attract people from beyond your immediate vicinity.

First, you need to determine the scope of your block party:
  • Do you want to block off the street to traffic?
  • Do you plan to have live or otherwise amplified music?
  • Will your party have large structures such as a stage, merry-go-round, bounce house or the like?
Depending on what you want to do, take the following into consideration so there are no surprises along the way.

Pick a Date

Begin by polling your neighbors to find a good date and time that works for everybody. National Night Out is a natural choice because it always falls on the first Tuesday in August and the city waives certain application fees for parties planned on this eve.

Apply for the Necessary Permits

This is where the scope of your party matters and you have two basic options.

Find out what else you need to do to plan your neighborhood block party on Neighborhood Notes.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

summer festivals + outdoor activities in portland

What happens when you combine creativity with a questionable amount of engineering experience and then send it hurtling down the side of a hill? You get the PDX Adult Soapbox Derby—the epitome of Portland culture.
It’s the time of year when the sun should be shining in the Rose City, and whether or not that’s a fact, Portlanders take to the streets and parks to enjoy live music, parades, street fairs and more. If you need ideas for where to find summer fun outside, Neighborhood Notes has some suggestions to get you started. Now, get out there and join your neighbors for an outdoor movie on the big screen or a bike ride.

Portland Rose Festival

Proud to be the Rose City, the Portland Rose Festival is our namesake festival. While there are innumerable events and activities planned, the carnival-like CityFair is open three weekend in a row—from May 24 to June 9—starting on Memorial Day weekend (opening night features fireworks) and includes rides, vendors, music, food and more. Then, the June 1 Starlight Run and Parade gives participants a chance to join a fun run through downtown’s streets while spectators can enjoy the runner’s costumes and the following floats, marching bands and more. June 6 and 7 bring the Portland Rose Society’s 125th Annual Spring Rose Show, while June 8 is the big day, marking the Queen’s Coronation at Memorial Coliseum, followed by the Grand Floral Walk, and then the culminating event: the Grand Floral Parade.

Movies in the Park

While it might not be a drive-in theater, the Portland Parks Foundation keeps a little piece of American history alive with its free Movies in the Park. On select warm summer nights throughout the city, some 40,000 community members come together in more than 40 local parks under an open sky to watch a movie, snack on popcorn, and enjoy the company of their neighbors.

Waterfront Blues Festival
July 4-7, 2013

More than a quarter century old and going strong, the nation’s second largest celebration of blues, rock ‘n’ roll and soul takes place right here in Portland. A benefit for the Oregon Food Bank, the Waterfront Blues Festival draws more than 100,000 people to see more than 100 artists on multiple stages during several days of music, sun, brews and, of course, fireworks on the Fourth of July.

Visit Neighborhood Notes to find more summer festivals and outdoor activities across town all summer long, like Sunday Parkways, Concerts in the Park, the Mississippi Ave Street Fair and more.