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Look around at your next house party. Doesn’t everyone look the same? Isn’t everyone there for the same damn reason? If there’s a band, and they aren’t playing Elliott Smith covers, there’s a good chance everyone’s there to dance. Nothing else. That’s it. Dance.

The Autumn Defense features Patrick Sansone and John Stirratt of Wilco, a titanic modern rock band that casts a long shadow to escape from under. But now, with the release of its fifth studio record (out Jan. 28 on Yep Roc Records and aptly named Fifth), Autumn Defense deserves to be considered a band rather than merely a side project. 

K to the C: Kansas City rapper Kutt Calhoun is a big name in underground rap, and also a compatriot and collaborator of many popular acts on Eugene stages like Tech N9ne, Krizz Kalico and more.  In 2013, Calhoun released Black Gold, featuring appearances from aforementioned artists as well as Brotha Lynch Hung. Hip hop blog HipHopDx gives the album three and a half stars, and it debuted at number one on the Billboard’s Heatseekers Album chart.

Most musicians have been playing instruments for years. Ramune Nagisetty of Portland-based indie-pop trio Rocket 3 picked up the guitar just a few years ago. “I went out and bought an electric guitar,” Nagisetty says. “It was President’s Day. I found it fairly easy to play.” 

Danny Schmidt and Carrie Elkin are both solo singer-songwriters. They also happen to be in a relationship, but don’t always have time together since they have separate projects. For now, however, the songbird couple has discovered a solution to this problem.

The Jan. 16 Eugene Symphony concert at the Hult Center opens with some of the 20th century’s most powerfully dramatic music: the “Four Sea Interludes” from Benjamin Britten’s mighty opera Peter Grimes. This performance of one of the greatest English composers’ most popular concert works misses by just a few days cashing in on Britten’s centenary celebrations, but we don’t need no stinkin’ birthday excuse to enjoy his music.

Music news & notes from down in the Willamette valley

Chain and The Gang is an “anti-liberty” group, jokes Ian Svenonius. This doesn’t mean Svenonius takes personal freedom lightly. “We’re a little bit perverse,” says Svenonius, formerly of legendary D.C. punk bands Nation of Ulysses and The Make-Up. “We’re not interested in playing out this one idea of prescribed rebellion.”

“I don’t think most of my songs sound that much like Beach House,” says Meagan Grandall, primary songwriter of Seattle-based duo Lemolo. “But if they do to some people,” she adds, “then I’ll take that as a compliment.” 

Nowadays fans get itchy for new material if a band hasn’t released anything in three and a half months, so the fact that Floater hasn’t released any new material in three and a half years (2010’s Wake) is saying something. Of course when you’ve been around for two decades, you can get away with it, but that’s not to say the band is making people wait on purpose; the timing just hasn’t been right.

Music news & notes from down in the Willamette valley.

On Tuesday, Jan. 7, psychobilly legend Reverend Horton Heat arrives at WOW Hall to promote the band’s new album, REV. They’re here to preach the “Gospel of Rock and Roll,” and you’ll be sure to hear a few new songs.

Classical music people are always fretting about how to keep the genre from declining along with its aging audience by getting hip to the 21st century. That means, at a minimum, doing what popular music, dance and theater have always done, and what classical musicians themselves did until the last few generations: perform the music of their own time, i.e., now. But sometimes it also means rethinking the presentation to suit today’s more visually oriented culture. 

Singer-songwriter Samantha Crain decided to take a different tack with the creation of her most recent album, Kid Face, which came out in early 2013. “I wanted to do something autobiographical,” Crain explains.

Hailing from Fullerton, Calif., power-pop quartet Audacity is loud, brash and melodic, known for break-neck live shows and a tireless tour schedule. In 2013, Audacity released its third studio album, the Weezer-esque Butter Knife.

Sam Bond’s Garage bookends Sol Seed’s year quite well, and what a difference a year makes. On Dec. 31, 2012, Sol Seed played its first New Year’s Eve show at Sam Bond’s; the reggae fusion band will be reprising its role of ringing in the New Year with laid-back, back-beat cheer for 2014. 

Music news & notes from down in the Willamette valley.

When interviewing a band called Levon’s Helmet, the lead question writes itself: What’s up with your most excellent band name? “Me and Gordon were in this band called Water Tower [formerly Water Tower Bucket Boys],” says Jason Oppat. “When we decided to make our own music we just went with it. At the time it was kind of a joke. It’s a little bit of a jab at folk and country music.” 

The Motet, an octet, puts on lively “dance parties,” and their music incorporates elements of dance, funk, soul, salsa, electronica, Afrobeat and samba. Their self-titled album comes out on Jan. 25 and marks a rebirth for the band.

Music news & notes from down in the Willamette valley.

Baroque music and candlelight make a fine combination. On Thursday (12/20) and Friday (12/21), the Oregon Mozart Players’ annual Candlelight Baroque concert returns to the ideally intimate setting of First Christian Church.

If you’re looking for the life of the party, look no further than Celtic folk-punk outfit Toad in the Hole. And since EW last caught up with them in January, they’ve brought some new partiers to the scene.

Paul Basile, singer and primary songwriter of New York-based indie rockers Great Elk, is spending the winter playing solo shows. Great Elk’s 2012 release Autogeography is a sweeping, tuneful and epic work of American indie music. 

“Keep an eye out,” warns Johnny Kraft, drummer for local skate-punk trio Bad Luck Blackouts. “It’s been a slow time for us but it’s been a very productive time.”