Anyone who’s ever been in a band and grown frustrated by managing three or four different schedules while juggling three or four eccentric personalities would blanche at the prospect of being in Typhoon.
It’s one thing to be an innovative musician working the confines of your chosen genre; it’s quite another to reinvent the instrument you’ve mastered and revolutionize the way it is played. Grammy- nominated harpist Deborah Henson-Conant has accomplished this and more.
For those who fiend for the authenticity of Portland’s indie-art aesthetic, the idiosyncrasy of the power duo and the elegance of a classical stringed instrument, Talkdemonic is your Homeric lotus fruit, your Coleridgean Xanadu — with Lisa Molinaro on viola and Kevin O’Connor on drums, loops and laptop (and the occasional avant-banjo thrown in), Talkdemonic comes to Eugene as a complete package.
You’re at your first Keller Williams show, not quite knowing what to expect. The stage is littered with guitars, a drum pad, speakers, synths. A regular-looking guy takes the stage and the crowd perks up.
Well, it’s more like beauties, beats, brass and bass when MarchFourth Marching Band (M4) is in town. For those unfamiliar, the Portland-based improv troupe is an experience of ruffled burlesque panties, bass guitar and the sonic blaring of saxophone.
Today’s musical generation has transcended guitar. There are probably a thousand objectors who could claim this statement is erroneous, but long gone are the days when guitar gods were held at the highest tier of mainstream music.
It’s refreshing to see a strong woman on stage with a mandolin in her hands. That particular role, typically dominated by male-bodied folk in string bands, is pivotal. The mandolin, usually seen played by women only in its classical guise, defines a great deal of string-band topography — those shrill plucks that carry listeners over musical plateaus to mountain-top exclamations.
Pretend for a moment that you’re a member of an iconic music crew. You’ve released your seminal work years ago, and prevailing trends have seen the mainstream of your genre devolve from highly educated emcee orators into codeine-guzzling degenerates (here’s lookin’ at you, Wayne). You don’t want to raise a white flag to the wackness, but you’re not about to give up on your life’s work either. What do you do?
With the contemporary convergence of hip hop and electronica, and the seemingly half-assed “’80s revival” of the last few years, it’s almost fantastical to imagine that groups like The Coup once had the chops to make it in the mainstream.
Like that one ramshackle, half-collapsed barn you pass on the highway year after year, the music created by veteran Minneapolis band The Jayhawks is timeless — in a fragile, verdigised, sepia-toned, windblown, authentically American melancholia sort of way. Their sweetly bittersweet sound, all honeyed harmonies and landlocked blues and melodic rustic reverie, is like a soundtrack caught gorgeously between a hymn to our better selves and an elegy to how we’ve fallen short.
With R.E.M. having disbanded last year, it would appear that Wilco now stands pretty well unchallenged as the greatest American rock band. Since rising from the ashes of seminal post-punk country/folk/rock pioneers Uncle Tupelo in 1994, this Chicago-based band has released a series of albums that continues, with each successive drop, to challenge, confound, frustrate, mystify and amuse its fans.
There are a lot of reasons I shouldn’t like Breathe Owl Breathe. They sound a bit like Jack Johnson meets Feist in a hookah lounge. They have all the hallmarks of easy-goin’ adult contemporary indie-folk. But there are things going on beneath the surface that set Breathe Owl Breathe apart from the “tailor-made-for-Starbucks” scene.
Like an international sweat fest of nostalgic pleasure, Dengue Fever is better suited as a warmer-upper than a cold. With a gruff, garage-rock spangle slathered in funk, this L.A.-based band welds ’60s Cambodian pop to a surfboard and floats it out to sea. Founded in 2001 after a trip to Cambodia, Ethan and Zac Holtzman met a Cambodian-native lounge singer named Chhom Nimol, a star in her home country, who could sing and write songs in Khmer.
Back in the 1970s, one of the major bands leading the welcomed revival of Celtic music was Planxty, a group that recreated the original energy in what could have been musty old tunes and forms and thereby revitalized Irish music.
If you listen to underground hip hop, you know what the three-eyed smiley face emblem stands for. You understand how intense it was when Hieroglyphics, the group this symbol represents, formed in the early ‘90s, what it felt like to put Third Eye Vision into your stereo and realize that not only had an authentic and mature form of underground hip hop arrived, but it was bountiful.
Take a quartet of guitar-savvy gingers steeped in pedagogies of the Northwest, see them south to the sun and listen to what they’ve made since returning for a rain-soaked second-rinse — it’s something akin to sonic honey on crunchy toast.
Doomtree is a wild-style hip-hop collective from the rhyme-tundra of Minneapolis. With five emcees (P.O.S., Sims, Dessa, Mike Micilian, Cecil Otter), two DJs (Lazerbeak, Papertiger) and solo projects running the gamut of hip-hop mixtapes, spoken word poetry, creative fiction, visual art, punk bands and individual releases from each member, when Doomtree takes root, listen.
The band moe. is to Phish what Jefferson Airplane was to the Dead. The New York-based jam band is an East Coast amalgam of roots and jam, more apt to throw into the mix an acoustic string or two than other improv-based rock bands like Umphrey’s McGee or the Disco Biscuits.