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Music news & notes from down in the Willamette valley

New York rapper Michael Quattlebaum Jr., aka Mykki Blanco, is as much a performance artist as a musician. A published poet and art school dropout, Quattlebaum’s alter ego Blanco is inspired by teenage girls and drag queens — mixing the right-now youth culture of Rihanna, the decadent gutter of the New York art world, queercore and Riot Grrrl icon Kathleen Hanna. 

Caroline Bauer releases her first full-length studio album, To Kneel and Kiss the Ground, Sunday, March 15, at her album release show at Sam Bond’s. Joining Bauer are Portland musicians Jeffrey Martin (who the Portland Mercury just declared “might be the best songwriter in Portland”) and Anna Tivel (formerly of Anna and the Underbelly), who also played violin on the album. EW caught up with Bauer this week for coffee and discussed raising money for the album, collaboration and her musical roots.

The visiting hip-hop scene has thrived this past year in Eugene, with rap revolutionaries — ranging from Sir Mix-A-Lot to J. Cole — stopping by on tour nearly every weekend. Talib Kweli and Immortal Technique are the next two legends that will pass through town.

Adia Victoria has only released two songs, but the Nashville-based singer is already on the rise as a Southern Gothic queen. Rolling Stone recently named her as one of “10 New Artists You Need To Know,” and Roger Moutenot (Yo La Tengo, Sleater-Kinney) is producing her debut with bandmates Ruby Rogers, Tiffany Minton and Mason Hickman. 

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is one of the peaks of Stephen Sondheim’s stellar career as America’s greatest musical theater composer, which, after multiple Tonys, Grammys, a Pulitzer and other laurels, received another boost with 2014’s film version of his musical Into the Woods

Jeff Tweedy was an integral member of Uncle Tupelo and is now the frontman of Wilco — putting him at the forefront of two of the most acclaimed American rock bands of the past 25 years. In 2012, Tweedy produced the Mavis Staples record One True Vine. Tweedy asked his teenaged son Spencer to play drums in the studio, and from these recordings came the father-son project Tweedy

“I want to say that no artist has mentioned Eugene, Oregon, more in songs,” Eugene-born folk-rock artist Mat Kearney tells EW

“You’re all a bunch of phonies” has long been one of punk rock’s favorite accusations. Providing a fresh and funny take on that old gripe are the firebrands from London, Ontario — Single Mothers

What does one do after breaking up a successful and influential band? If you’re Christopher Hall of The Dreaming, you start again, but this time as a supergroup. In the late ’90s, Hall’s previous project, Stabbing Westward, took modern-rock radio by storm with singles “Shame” and “Save Yourself” before calling it quits in 2002. Unwilling to remain idle, Hall and drummer Johnny Haro formed The Dreaming later that year. 

New York musician Marco Benevento recorded his 2014 release Swift about as far away from the big city as possible: Cottage Grove. 

Classical music doesn’t have to be boring — usually that’s just the way it’s played

Mike Doherty, bassist for Portland indie-rock outfit Future Historians, says what initially brought the band together was the songwriting of leader and primary songwriter Dave Shur. 

Considering the sterling reputation of J. Cole, it’s incredible that his new tour kicks off here at the McDonald Theatre.

It’s a shame Franco-American jazz singer Cyrille Aimée didn’t come through Eugene a little closer to Valentine’s Day, because her romantic brand of adorable and sugary jazz would be a perfect gift for that special someone. 

At a glance Gothic Tropic may appear to be another chic Los Angeles retro-rock act, hiding behind delay pedals like dark sunglasses. Having just two brief EPs under their belt since their 2011 conception, the indie-poppers might have flown just below the radar of readers, which would have been a shame. 

Giraffage, the moniker of beatmaker Charlie Yin, just wrapped up a tour with one of the most popular names in electronic music: Porter Robinson. On his current tour, however, he is the headliner.

Music has led Kevin Morby from Kansas City to New York and now Los Angeles: center, east and west. However, if Morby’s influenced by any one place over another, it’s New York — particularly the era when the Big Apple’s folk scene began to morph into early punk rock; the city of Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, Patti Smith and Television. 

The Garden is not really a band, but more like genre-rejecting performance art by bass-and-drums duo — the 21-year-old twins Wyatt and Fletcher Shears.

Music news & notes from down in the Willamette valley

The Bearer of Bad News, the latest release of Canadian songwriter Andy Shauf, is now out on Portland taste-making record label Tender Loving Empire. Working with a Portland label is appropriate for a songwriter who lists legendary Portland songwriter Elliott Smith as an influence. 

There was a time when Eugeneans had to venture up I-5 if we wanted to catch the top touring classical and jazz pianists at, say, Portland Jazz Festival, Portland Piano International and other events. No more.

“We sound like Brit Pop with Americana trappings,” says Chris Masterson of Austin-based husband-and-wife duo The Mastersons, who are touring in support of their latest LP, Good Luck Charm

Eugeneans — if you think driving 20 minutes to Cottage Grove to see a band play is too long, consider how long Self Decay traveled just to play there. “We are four-piece from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil,” says Self Decay bassist Pedro Gibson. In 2012 the band lived in L.A. for six months before returning to Brazil, but didn’t have the chance to tour the states until now.