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Music

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.

Xylouris White is the sound of two people making music in a room. Person number one is Jim White of well-known Australian experimental rock trio Dirty Three. Person two is George Xylouris, one of Crete’s most beloved musicians, on vocals and lute. 

 Best known for his Cherry Blossom Musical Arts productions with partner and singer Nancy Wood, Eugene composer Paul Safar was named 2013 Oregon Composer of the Year by the Oregon Music Teachers Association (OMTA) and this summer completed a prestigious composition residency in Alaska.

No doubt Detroit rapper Danny Brown likes to party, evidenced by tracks like “Blunt After Blunt,” “Smokin & Drinkin” and “Die Like A Rockstar.” With an increasing fan base and his fourth studio album just released Sept. 30, it seems like the 35-year-old has no plans of halting the fun bus anytime soon. 

There’s a song called “City of Angels” from The Head and The Heart’s third release, Signs of Light, and the album’s cover image shows the band lounging around a pool on a sunny afternoon. 

Popular Eugene band Fortune’s Folly recently won Hi-Fi Music Hall’s Sun-Sets Summer Concert Series. The prize: recording time at local studio Track Town Records. 

Local hardcore punk band Novelas knocks the patches off a typically white-bro dominated scene. The band brings a femme aesthetic, dad jeans and luscious emotional melodies to the table, and they’re returning to Eugene’s music world with gusto after a six-month hiatus. Get out your lipstick, grrrls.

For Rafferty Swink of Brooklyn psych-soul outfit Evolfo, his band’s upcoming show at Hi-Fi Music Hall in Eugene is a homecoming of sorts. 

“I grew up in Ashland,” Swink explains to EW. “Oregon is my home.”

If you’re a sensitive artsy type who swoons over emotional prowess in music, then Laura Marling, a musical folk fairy, is right up your alley. 

Despite the name, classical music can be old and new, and there’s some of both coming to town this month.

In an alternate universe, the album Painting With, which dropped in February, might have been Animal Collective’s pop breakthrough.

But because the world is backwards and topsy-turvy, the album that broke through was 2009’s Merriweather Post Pavilion, a synth-slathered fantasia that sounds like harsh noise next to Painting With.

Mick Dagger, vocalist and guitarist with Eugene band Dick Dägger, says one of the best places in town to hear live music is in the john at a house across the street from Taco Bell. The house in question is the Ant House, a longstanding and popular location for basement shows in Eugene. 

Hi-Fi is hosting a wide variety of musicians this month, especially with contrasting artists Emily Jane White and Dizzy Wright performing in the same week (watch out for whiplash).

If you’re anything like me, and I know many of you are, you grew up on a lot of ’80s and ’90s-era British guitar pop. Why? In my case, Brit bands seemed allowed a larger breadth of sensitivity and intelligence than their constantly macho Yankee colleagues. And, of course, there are those accents: romantic, working class, exotic and endlessly cool. Has the sound aged? Certainly. But in the end, haven’t we all?

The music of Edna Vazquez can send shivers to your soul. When Vasquez performs, she closes her eyes and each of her facial muscles crinkles with concentration. She whistles and taps on her guitar’s body with an intimate familiarity, and when she opens her mouth to sing or speak, it’s a bellow straight from her heart.

After five years in Brooklyn, Eugene-born musician Justin King has come home. “All my oldest friends and family are here,” King explains.

“It’s really where my roots are,” he continues. “Brooklyn was getting even more overrun and expensive and crazier and crazier. I wanted to come back and focus on my own music.”

Since being back in town, King’s band King Radio has released a four-song EP, Adaline, available now on SoundCloud.