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Music

Liat Lis and Kyle McGonegle — comprising the old-time folk duo — are a reminder that sometimes, musicians are made for each other. Beyond the lush, characteristic two-part vocal harmonies that carve a wake through Lake Toba’s music, there is songwriting and performance talent at work that Eugene has not seen since the string-band heyday of the previous decade. 

Comic book artist, musician and New York native Jeffrey Lewis comes to Eugene behind his 2015 release, the appropriately titled Manhattan. Like a lost Lou Reed album, Manhattan recalls a time when New York was friendlier to artists and freaks. 

Classical music institutions usually reach backward, content to be historical museums of music by long-dead composers. It wasn’t always thus: Composers like Bach and Beethoven would have been appalled to see how today’s orchestras play mostly yesterday’s music. Had that notion prevailed in their time, the music of those great composers wouldn’t have survived. That retro attitude, a product of the early-mid-20th century, has gradually been changing, and Eugene Symphony president Scott Freck wants his band to lead the way. 

Skating Polly

 

When Andrew Katz, the drummer of alt-indie band Car Seat Headrest, was asked how he feels about returning to his hometown when touring, his response was: “God, it’s awful. I hate it.” 

Keep in mind that Katz is from Eugene, and grew up a mere eight blocks from the University of Oregon campus. 

Rising Appalachia adds an intoxicating recipe of banjo, blues and hip hop to old-time mountain folk. Front women and sisters Leah Song and Chloe Smith are two songbirds (or swamp fairies) who poetically confront social, environmental and political injustices — all the while sticking to their filthy, dirty Southern roots. 

It’s been a particularly rainy autumn around these parts. Maggie Morris, vocalist and guitarist with Portland band Genders, says the weather feels like home. “Rainy as ever!” Morris emails from Portland. “But damn if it didn’t feel really great. It’s still beautiful and magical.” 

Eugene-Portland punk band Dirtclodfight has an impressive pedigree stretching back to SoCal in the late ’80s, including stints with well-known record labels Flipside and Cavity Search. 

The Jackson-Hole-by-way-of-New-York indie-acoustic soul outfit Benyaro, featuring Ben Musser and Leif Routman, has been through Eugene several times before, but this time the duo is rolling through on its “Get Out the Vote” tour — partnering with Rock the Vote and HeadCount organizations — even if that means performing a day after the election, Nov. 9, with Idaho’s country-rock heartbreaker Jeff Crosby at the post-election party at Axe & Fiddle in Cottage Grove; free.

Following the demise of the late, lamented G.L.O.S.S., New York duo PWR BTTM is a strong contender for the title of most visible — and thus most important — queer punk band in America. Mixing rock-duo slop with drunk-Beatles hooks and heart-on-sleeve (but mercifully unaffected) lyrics, this is pop punk that doesn’t sacrifice pop for the punk, or vice versa. Your queer buddies — and some of your straight buddies too — may be bugging you about this band for a long time.  

In very different ways, concerts this month take listeners on a sentimental journey into the past. The Thursday, Nov. 3, concert at The Shedd features Bill Frisell gazing wistfully back at his boomer childhood. The Seattle guitarist and his excellent band (fellow Seattle star violist Eyvind Kang, singer Petra Haden — best known for her work with her late dad, jazz bass legend Charlie Haden — drummer Rudy Royston and bassist Thomas Morgan) play music from the movies (To Kill A Mockingbird, Once Upon A Time In the West, The Godfather, etc.) and TV shows (Bonanza and others). 

Cherub (an electro-indie band, not a naked angel baby) made me a little weary at first listen. It’s a group of dudes that seem like unruly, rich suburban kids — but don’t judge a bro by his neon tee. Cherub provides a breath of funky fresh air if you’re in the mood to dance away a night of electro-pop debauchery.  

Sometimes, Tucker Alley even scares his girlfriend with his lyrics.

“Weren’t you writing a song about drowning children?” she asks as Alley flips through his notebook. “It sounds really bad when I say it, but …”

A new season, new cellist and new album featuring new music: Eugene’s Delgani String Quartet just keeps refuting the outdated notion that classical music is all about old stuff. 

Pop-punk played a big role in a majority of millennials’ childhoods. From moshing at the Vans Warped Tour to staying dedicated to the fact that being “scene” or “emo” (or whatever else you want to call it) as a teenager was not a phase — bands like Blink-182, Fall Out Boy or New Found Glory probably filled some space in your life.

Many of us played in bands as teenagers. Far fewer collaborated with The Dead Milkmen, got noticed by Dr. Demento or opened for Tommy Stinson of The Replacements. 

The alt-country duo HoneyHoney may seem like a basic pair of guitar-wieldin’ country youngins, but after a decade of jamming together, the two have cultivated a dark dynamic that keeps you hooked on their gritty yet graceful sound. 

Music writers constantly pester bands with the very question many musicians struggle to answer: “Tell me, in words, what your band sounds like.” 

Nevertheless, King Mike, bassist with New Jersey trio Screaming Females, has one of the best responses to this inquiry this music writer has heard: “Doo doo doo doo bum bum bum bum,” Mike writes via email. 

In the midst of an election, despicable disenfranchisement reigns supreme. It is tempting to give up altogether, pack our bags and move to an island so remote that silence becomes the new governing body. For many Americans, casting a vote on Nov. 8 will feel pointless, like screaming into a fucking vacuum. 

Thankfully, legendary punk-rock powerhouse Bad Religion is coming to town, and wants to remind you that your voice matters.

Back in my CD-slinging days (remember CDs?) a new release would arrive pre-stickered “For fans of,” a bald-faced marketing ploy to hitch a new artist to the sound or musician du jour. 

I can imagine California songwriter Margaret Glaspy’s latest release, Emotions And Math, arriving affixed with: “For fans of Norah Jones” or “As heard on NPR.” Perhaps you know Glaspy from her recent Tiny Desk Concert. 

The brilliant banter between Beatrice and Benedict in Shakespeare’s comedy Much Ado About Nothing, one of theater’s most entertaining duets, seems ideal for a musical setting. Sure enough, French Romantic composer Hector Berlioz, who created the trailblazing Fantastic Symphony and other colorful orchestral works, wrote one (including the libretto, which adds some characters and subplots and jettisons others) in 1862. 

There’s a ghost-like quality to Marissa Nadler’s 2016 release Bury Your Name that’s perfect for fall and winter in Eugene. Throughout the record, the strings of her acoustic guitar are like brittle icicles while the sound of violins envelops the music like breath on a cold morning. And Nadler’s murmuring voice, trapped in an echo box, quivers and quakes. 

Mainstream music has fallen prey to a habit of being short, sweet and shallow. Nahko and Medicine for the People, the multi-cultural music collective that always makes time for Eugene, slows things down with elaborate melodies, lengthy songs and lyrics that dig into an emotional narrative of life’s shitty times.

A great jazz keyboard-and-drum duo arrives at Sam Bond’s Garage Oct. 13: Matt Chamberlain is well known for drumming with jazz stars like Bill Frisell, Herbie Hancock and Brad Mehldau, along with pop singers like David Bowie, Fiona Apple and Morrissey. He and keyboardist Brian Haas, who leads the groovy Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey, deliver strutting 21st-century jazz-funk on their new album Prometheus Risen.