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Music

Seattle’s The Cave Singers came out of the darkness around the same time Fleet Foxes did. But while the Foxes are all angelic harmony and shimmering guitars, The Cave Singers offer a grittier, bluesy take on indie-folk; if the Fleet Foxes serenade you from the town square, The Cave Singers stomp and clap on the back porch with vocalist Pete Quirk mixing a gruff, unschooled, gospel holler to the mix.

What’s in a name? A lot, if your last name is Guthrie. There are few surnames so loaded with expectation, history and respect, and few people as deserving of that respect as Arlo Guthrie.

Jazz may be America’s greatest gift to music, but since its late ’50s heyday, the art form has too often become marginalized by the same process familiar to classical music fans: devolving into either endless recycling of the same old standards (to appeal to a rigidly conservative audience that basically wants to hear its record collections played live) or an extreme avant-garde content to play shrieky, “out” sounds for a tiny in-group audience. Neither is a recipe for building new audiences or sustainable artistic growth. 

Listening to Threads, the latest album from Minneapolis-based indie rock band Now, Now, you might be surprised to learn that the band was hesitant about working with a producer on this record.

If you’ve never heard Built to Spill, let me first ask you this: Have you been living on the moon for the past 20 years, or in a subterranean cave with no light or sound? ’Cause if you haven’t, then there’s really no other excuse to have missed out on some of the most vital and interesting guitar rock produced in the Northwest since Nirvana. 

Jessica Raymond has gathered several musical influences since she arrived in the PNW: Mount Baker, Mount Rainier, the North Cascades and the Olympic Mountains. “I’ve spent a lot of the past couple years in the mountains,” says Raymond, singer-songwriter and guitarist for The Blackberry Bushes, an alt-folk progressive bluegrass trio based in Seattle.

I noticed a Kickstarter campaign the other day; someone is transcribing the flow of popular rappers into traditional music notation and wants help funding a book about it. I hear you can study “turntablism” at Boston’s Berklee College of Music. Does this mean rap is dead — or that it’s finally part of the establishment?

When Jeff Austin roams around the state of Oregon, he feels as if he were in a strange movie. But it’s not just the scenery that keeps Austin and the rest of Yonder Mountain String Band coming back to this fine state; it’s the people.

Obvious jokes about a certain Simple Minds song aside, who could forget about Molly Ringwald? She’s the redheaded queen of teen flicks who headlined features like Pretty in Pink, The Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles in the 1980s, but these days she’s settled into a different artistic milieu: music.

No, we’re not talking about Ray Charles, the Allman Brothers, OutKast, R.E.M. or other musicians from the Southeastern US, but rather Zedashe, an ensemble from the former Soviet republic, which performs at the UO’s Beall Hall April 19. The group of singers and instrumentalists (using bagpipes, accordion, percussion and more) has spent years finding and reviving music that was suppressed or otherwise gone with the wind during the decades of Soviet domination.

Rare is the band that can say they are still recording half a century after they began, but that is the case for the pioneers of ska music, The Skatalites. Formed in Jamaica in 1964, the band’s music has influenced the likes of The Police, No Doubt and Sublime, and early on they backed notable bands like Toots and the Maytals and Prince Buster and “The Wailing Wailers,” featuring Bob Marley.

Today’s electronic generation is lowering the music production learning curve so rapidly that many producers can’t even legally get into venues where their music is played. Take Disclosure, the UK-born-and-bred house duo consisting of brothers Guy and Howard Lawrence, who are only 21 and 18 respectively.

If you want to make Jeffry-Wynne Prince smile, call him Jeffry-Wynne. Not Jeff or Jeffry or Wynne or Prince, although that might make him smile for a different reason. The hyphenated first name (it’s Welsh) of The Kimberly Trip guitarist throws some people for a loop.

Musicians have been touring for years — it’s just part of the profession. Incidentally, touring musicians have had us up, out of our houses and walking to various venues for most of our lives. But mellow-shimmer genius Will Johnson found a way to turn this practice on its head.

The ’90s are back. Tribute nights to the decade of the Gap are popping up everywhere; Matchbox 20 is touring with the Goo Goo Dolls, and Boston-based Little War Twins kick off their album Marvelous Mischief with “One Bottle”— recalling the coiled-up intensity of fellow Bostonians and ’90s icons The Pixies.

Mountain Song at Sea’s maiden cruise in February left the typically landlocked bluegrass stomping grounds far behind to bring together acts from across the nation like the Grammy-winning Steep Canyon Rangers and local favorites Betty and the Boy, who will be reunited again April 7 at WOW Hall.

From Austin, Texas, to Eugene to Bear Valley, Calif., Phoebe Hunt is on her way to camp. Not some Salute Your Shorts summer getaway, but The Big Sur Fiddle Camp. Hunt is going to rule that camp.

It’s surprising someone hasn’t done it sooner. On April 16, Ghostface Killah is releasing Twelve Reasons to Die — a companion album to a comic book of the same name. 

In 2010, the eccentric Mangum reemerged, performing what was supposed to be a one-off benefit for a friend. Since then he’s toured and recorded, playing a mixture of Neutral Milk Hotel songs and new material, usually alone, just voice and guitar.

Once upon a time there was fuzz, and it was accidental. Then there came distortion. Then there came cleanliness, godliness and indie-pop. And then, quite inexplicably, there was fuzz again.

In five years, when zombies overrun us, Alfred Darlington is going to look back on these days as the golden age of electronic music. Darlington, better known by the production moniker Daedelus, tells EW that he would prefer the zombies to be of the slow, mindless variety.

Musical institutions too often destroy the very music they prize by refusing to look forward, relying instead on constant rehashing of the greatest hits of earlier decades and centuries. This month brings to town some progressive musicians who are keeping their traditions alive and growing.

Christopher Owens’ former group Girls set the indie world on fire with their 2009 underground hit Album. Owens’ singing voice drew comparisons to Elvis Costello; the songs evoked ’60s power-pop, ’70s punk and contemporary indie rock.

Blissful blues. Sounds like an oxymoron, but that phrase hits at the essence of The California Honeydrops, who take the catharsis of singing the blues to a devil-may-care, happy-go-lucky level.