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Music

Stephen Buettler is the principal provocateur behind rising Eugene band Pancho + The Factory. He’s also the primary songwriter and vocalist. Sitting next to me at the bar in Eugene’s Wayward Lamb, Buettler vibes like an off-duty, dock-working Pagliacci with a rock ‘n’ roll edge — due in no small part to his blue-collar handlebar moustache and black fingernail polish. He has a malleable, expressive face, a gentle, kindhearted sadness in his eyes and a soft, teddy bear-like physique that some might call cuddly.

What historically informed European musicians have done for Baroque music, James Ralph does for American musical theater. For years, the Oregon Festival of American Music (OFAM) impresario has been painstakingly supervising the reconstruction of the original scores of George and Ira Gershwin’s classic 1920s musicals, which have been performed for decades only in relatively bastardized remakes for stage or screen. 

California’s Sonny & The Sunsets current release, Moods Baby Moods, is a contender for 2016’s album of the year. The record’s elements are familiar: ’70s and ’80s English New Wave and New York art-pop grooves mix with Lee Scratch Perry-style studio experimentation and wubba-wubba dub atmosphere.

For touring bands, finding a reliable person to run the merch table, selling assorted paraphernalia, can be a challenge. But on one of Jaill’s passes through Eugene, the band found a creative solution. 

Snow Tha Product is a pint-sized rapper who brings high-voltage ferocity to the hip-hop scene, drawing on her Mexican heritage with a twist of Cali-Texan influence. 

It was the early 2010s when the fountain of indie and alternative bands touring Eugene started to run dry. The new decade instead spewed more touring hip-hop, rap and pop artists until the floodgates finally burst with the eruption of the EDM scene. 

While certain politicians make political hay by advocating divisions among Americans based on race, language and origin, artists and musicians are demonstrating the value of joining diverse American traditions. 

Over the phone, Ruth Moody very sweetly and very quietly asks me to remind people that she recently collaborated with Mark Knopfler, as in of the Dire Straits, and as in: She thinks she needs the extra cred to fill the seats at Moody’s show June 9 at Tsunami Books.

In any era, Bob Dylan is a transcending icon of cool. Other ’60s-era musicians tried to break the rules but Dylan, rebellious and irreverent, made up a whole new game. At this point, Dylan is everywhere; many of his tunes are as ubiquitous as “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep.”

Almost everyone’s life seems to intersect with this jangly-limbed trickster from Minnesota. So the question is not so much are you a Dylan fan, but what is your Dylan discovery story? 

Nora Murphy Hughes of Portland band Hollow Sidewalks is eight months alcohol-free. She says this transformation in her life is reflected on her band’s new record, Year of the Fieldmouse

L.A. hardcore industrial duo Youth Code is touring in support of its second studio record, Commitment to Complications. With this record, Youth Code, featuring Sara Taylor and Ryan George, push deeper into the rough, serrated electronic territory of bands like Skinny Puppy, Godflesh and Ministry. 

Do you think the band’s founders went through other options before settling on the name Dayglo Abortions back in 1979? Given the Canadian punk trio’s penchant for offensive juvenilia, it would probably be an incredible list.

Heaviness is a fickle descriptive when it comes to music. Is it gauged by the power riffs of a Black Sabbath or Led Zeppelin? The hyper-speed assault of a Slayer or Napalm Death? Maybe the slow, brutal chug of a Swans or Neurosis? Some even look to the dark undercurrent of early bluesmen like Blind Willie Johnson or Leadbelly (the name certainly checks out) as the true masters of heaviness.

Just before the bass drops into the thumping drumbeat on an electronica track, it’s easy to rush towards preconceived (and often negative) notions about popular “dance” music. 

The battle for gender-inclusive spaces is in the white-hot spotlight recently, notably from backlash pertaining to the passage of transgender exclusionary bills such as North Carolina’s restriction on public restroom use in accordance with the sex assigned on a person’s birth certificate. 

The music of Canadian indie-rock group Supermoon is built from elements so delicately stacked it seems a cool breeze might knock them over. You want to catch the sound in a butterfly net, put it in a glass jar and keep it safely tucked on a shelf. 

Why wait for summer to take your international vacation when you can take a musical world tour this month right here in Eugene?

Bay-area black-metal act Bosse-De-Nage makes music in a post-everything world. Read how the band’s sound is described in the media: post-hardcore, post-metal. It’s hard to know what any of that means.

Portland power-trio The Thermals are obsessed with death.

“It’s a subject Hutch [Harris] and I think about a lot,” Thermals bassist Kathy Foster tells EW. Harris plays guitar, sings and is primary songwriter. “It’s always present,” she says of the specter of death. “Sometimes it can be scarier than other times. Sometimes I get obsessed with it, think about it a lot and have this doomed feeling: It’s inevitable.” 

Unfortunately, Beyoncé doesn’t seem to have Eugene in her sights and, if looking at the mostly male, mostly white lineups of Eugene’s biggest venues is any indication, they wouldn’t book her anyway. So to see Bey’s Lemonade tour, you’ll have to head north to Seattle.

The regional old-time scene is going to have one big hearth to gather round May 5-8: the inaugural Willamette Valley Old-Time Social put on by Eugene’s Mud City Old-Time Society. For the uninitiated, old-time music is an acoustic tradition of American music. Fiddle and banjo are the stars, making the sound a perfect catalyst for square dancing. 

Opera is hot in America these days. Despite the hidebound programming of most major opera companies endlessly recycling the tired old “top 10” 19th- and early 20th-century warhorses, today’s American composers are writing dozens of new operas — many based on American themes — and finding audiences both young and old.

Portland musician Pat Kearns is feeling reflective. “It’s just been where the songs have been taking me,” Kearns tells EW. “The stuff that I’ve been writing the last couple of years has just been a lot quieter. Maybe I’ll know all of this more when I reach the other side of it.”

It’s easy to get confused by the ups and downs of today’s music scene. We’ve lost foundational icons like Prince and Bowie. Zayn left One Direction (and was kind of a butthead about it) and no one knows what the hell Iggy Azalea is doing. Shit has gotten weird.