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The (Un)Grateful Dead

A Happy Death
A Happy Death

Ryan Lella of Portland’s A Happy Death loves vintage garage rock like The Beau Brummels, The Sonics and The 13th Floor Elevators.

The songwriter is also into stuff by Thee Oh Sees and Ty Segall — contemporary artists leading the Bay Area’s recent garage and psychedelic rock revival: a movement that seems to be catching on up in Portland as well.

“Ty Segall and Thee Oh Sees kick ass!” says Lella, who sings and plays guitar in A Happy Death. “They totally reinforce how stoked we are to play the kind of music we do.” 

Like Segall and Thee Oh Sees, A Happy Death updates the original ’60s-era sound — amping up the noise to a deafening squall, recalling British art-rockers My Bloody Valentine. 

“We also dig bands like Talking Heads, Dead Kennedys and The Pixies,” Lella says. “That’s where it all kinda comes together.” 

The Pixies influence is particularly apparent in “Wet Dream” from the group’s latest release, Introducing: A Happy Death, with Lella ably mimicking Frank Black’s cadence and tortured yelp over keyboardist Jaclyn Hardin’s buzzing Farfisa organ. 

Elsewhere, “Commie Killer” is awash in a tsunami of cacophonous guitars and cymbals, and “The Devil” is Jack White meets The Sonics’ classic “The Witch.” 

A Happy Death is releasing its latest on, of all things, cassette (with digital download). “Tapes are super rad,” Lella says. “Besides, being an analog format that is compact, they invoke a nostalgia that is associated with actually giving a damn about music.”

A Happy Death celebrates its latest release with Eugene’s Mudpuppy and Bestfriend 8 pm Tuesday, April 1, at Black Forest; FREE.