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Music

People consuming illegal substances produced by locals in the boonies, cops storming in to bust it up, tempestuous affairs … Breaking Bad? Weeds? No, it’s the Gershwins’ bubbly 1926 musical comedy Oh, Kay!, which those indefatigable musical revivalists at The Shedd are staging June 20-29. 

New bands play lots of strange places: bedrooms, basements and bars (empty or, preferably, full). On June 12, Seattle’s fledgling post-punk quartet Gibraltar plays Eugene’s Tiny Tavern, a venue that is, well … pretty tiny. 

If EW’s annual Best of Eugene contest included the category “Most likely to perform at Austin City Limits,” local singer-songwriters Tyler Fortier and Beth Wood would surely tie for first. Wood, a native Texan, says she’d jump at the opportunity to play the famous Austin, Texas-based music festival; Fortier admits he might prefer to appear online in an installment of NPR’s intimate Tiny Desk Concerts.

For her latest project, The Bird in My Chest, singer-songwriter Gabrielle Louise wanted to do something different. “I had my heart set on releasing a book of short stories and poems alongside a collection of music,” Louise says. “So I took everything I had composed in the same time frame — songs, poems and short stories — and I published a booklet to accompany the CD.”

Excerpt from phone interview with King Buzzo of the Melvins:

Me: Hello, may I speak with Buzz Osborne, please?

Buzz: That’s me.

Me: Hey, this is Rick Levin from the Eugene Weekly.

Buzz: Never heard of it.

And that, folks, is punk rock in a nutshell.

Last year’s film Inside Llewyn Davis helped revive memories of one of the great voices of American folk music. The fictionalized Cohen Brothers movie was based on the memoir of New York singer Dave Van Ronk, who mentored a whole generation of young folkies. 

Music news & notes from down in the Willamette valley.

Three years have passed since Eugene’s perennial favorite rock-grass outfit, Alder Street (formerly Alder Street All-Stars), released its last album. With the debut this month of Americannibal, rest assured, it was worth the wait.

Once upon a time, record label Alive Naturalsound released the debut from a little band called The Black Keys. Now, that same label has released More Primitive from Seattle-based boogie-blues trio Lonesome Shack.

Portland’s Water Tower has come a long way since stomping the Americana revival boards late last decade. With an all new lineup — excepting frontman Kenny Feinstein, who’s been along from the start and recently signed with Fluff & Gravy Records — the band leaves the old-time ever so slightly to bring a fresher rock ‘n’ roll sound. 

It’s tough to convey unbridled enthusiasm via email, but Trevor Straub of Pookie and The Poodlez (of Oakland, Calif.) comes close: “Yeah, I can do that!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!,” Straub responds to my email interview request. 

Music news & notes from down in the Willamette valley

When hard-pressed to describe Pigeon John’s sound, I choose “soul-rap” — living somewhere between early Jackson 5 and Stevie Wonder (hard to listen to and not smile) and uplifting indie West Coast hip hop. 

We welcome you all, to a world where no paper currency exists, no dreams of the afterlife are sought after and everyone is together, striving to form a unified consciousness. That’s not a snippet of The Communist Manifesto, but the opening line to the comic book Bustin’ Jieber vs. The Gravy Robbers.

Music news & notes from down in the Willamette valley

When Josh Harvey and Bettreena Jaeger met in 2008 in northwest Montana, they drank PBR and watched Pulp Fiction until Harvey grew terribly sick from the flu and fell asleep in Jaeger’s bed for a three-day recovery. 

A cappella singing — that is, voices without instruments — is probably the oldest form of music, but today’s a cappella music scene feels fresh, thanks in part to the latest revival that started on college campuses in the 1990s. Although the tradition never really went away (as demonstrated by classical groups like Anonymous 4 and Chanticleer and neo-doo-woppers like The Persuasions, The Bobs and Take 6), these days find a cappella on TV, in the movies (Pitch Perfect) and on more than 1,000 college campuses. 

When we last checked in with The Crescendo Show, the Corvallis quartet was gearing up to record Jackal’s Kiss — the band’s first studio album. Ricky Carlson (banjo, guitar, drums, backup vocals) says working with professionals, over nine studio sessions at Portland’s Jackpot! Recording Studio, pushed the band to the next level.

Talkative emerges from the same squishy indie-rock primordial ooze as Animal Collective. The Portland-via-Eugene art freaks are test-driving material from their new LP Hot Fruit Barbecue May 23 at Tiny Tavern in the Whit. 

Music news & notes from down in the Willamette valley

I had my first beer at a Baths show in high school circa 2007. I was at my friend’s birthday party, and it was also the night Will Wiesenfeld made his debut as that now-famous moniker.

Juan Wauters makes serious work of playful things. From his 2014 release N.A.P. North American Poetry, “Let Me Hip You To Something” features goofy anachronistic slang, and “Woke Up Feeling Sleepy” includes a kitschy Spanish spoken-word middle bit. Elsewhere, “Breathing (Feat. Carmelle)” lifts the tune of Dusty Springfield’s “I Only Want to be With You,” adding a New York, anti-folk twist. 

When the Thermals began in 2002, lead singer Hutch Harris never imagined that the band would tour more than a dozen countries in the subsequent decade.

Once upon a time, orchestra halls were raucous places, bursting with chatty patrons who were eager to applaud — dare I say it — during a movement. Composers, such as Mozart and Brahms, saw an engaged, reactive audience as a sign of respect. Not until the 20th century did “concert etiquette” develop and audiences became staid, passive observers waiting to clap on cue.