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Music

As MF Doom once said, rap these days is like a pain up in the neck. Seriously, the ratio of intelligent lyricists to not-exactly-lyricists-at-all leans heavily toward the latter in this time of ours.

Ryan Lella of Portland’s A Happy Death loves vintage garage rock like The Beau Brummels, The Sonics and The 13th Floor Elevators. The songwriter is also into stuff by Thee Oh Sees and Ty Segall — contemporary artists leading the Bay Area’s recent garage and psychedelic rock revival: a movement that seems to be catching on up in Portland as well.

The singing voice that comes out of Eugene musician Corwin Bolt is disarming: There are elements of Bob Dylan there, in the nasally delivery that registers passion in flat insistences and breathy hidey-holes; some Woody Guthrie, like a spike driven into a rail tie, hard-hewn and proud; a little Steve Earle, John Prine, Townes Van Zandt and not a small bit of the late Vic Chesnutt, a beautiful croak quenched by kerosene and gargled through the gravel of hard times.

Pushing yourself to do new things, creatively, can be challenging, but as Esme Patterson — one of the vocalists in the Baroque indie folk-pop group Paper Bird — can attest, such growth and change are necessary. The band’s fourth album, 2013’s Rooms, is proof.

Eugene Symphony brings a trio of top singers to join its chorus for the Thursday, March 20, performance of Haydn’s great oratorio, The Creation, at the Hult. After one of the most famous opening scenes in music — nothing less than what we’d now call the Big Bang — the great classical composer doesn’t need no stinkin’ sets or theatrical props, using only his most colorful music to paint scenic portraits of the events and even animals described in the Christian creation myth. 

Linda Perhacs has always loved quiet. “I was taking long solitary walks as early as I can remember. I have a deep, strong love for raw, wild nature,” she tells EW over the phone from her Topanga Canyon home. “You could hardly get me in the house. I knew very early on that I would not be in the kitchen.”

Papadosio is a prog-rock band at its core, but take a closer look; it is so much more than that. The Athens, Ohio-founded quintet could quite easily have tailored its sound for ignorant audiences, but if you want your music to say something, actually spread a message, you gotta go big.

Hazy, fuzzy and totally spaced out, the Ghost Ease is a relatively new Portland trio whose sound meshes the jazzy punk of early Sonic Youth with the more ethereal explorations of Cat Power, all run through the crackle and pop of amps knobbed to seismic volumes.

“I get asked that all the time,” says Jelly Bread vocalist and guitarist Dave Berry about the band’s sound, adding that “moonshine funk and soul” is the usual fallback. “We cover a lot of ground,” Berry says.

More than half a century before Sergio Leone, Ennio Morricone, Clint Eastwood et al brought us an Italian view of the American West’s good/bad old days, New York’s Metropolitan Opera asked famed Italian composer Giacomo Puccini to make a new opera from a play of the Gold Rush days. The March 14 and 16 performances of that pioneer-period drama The Girl of the Golden West are a pioneering step for the Eugene Opera, too: Not only is this Hult Center performance the local premiere of Puccini’s favorite among his operas, it also continues the plucky company’s recent willingness to take chances, albeit this time not with contemporary works, alas, but with less familiar fare. 

Yes folks, the father of Auto-Tune is coming to town. If you haven’t heard T-Pain before, there are four basic things you need to know: 1. He loves shawtys; 2. He actually has a good voice but uses Auto-Tune because he thinks it’s cooler; 3. He will buy you a drank if you are a shawty and/or know how to “talk money”; 4. He may or may not be in love with a stripper right now.

When the Eugene Tool show was announced a few months ago, you could hear our city’s most pierced and tattooed collectively gasp. The L.A.-based hard rock band has been at it since MTV played videos, building a rabid fan base that rivals the Vatican’s with albums Ænima and Lateralus and controversial songs like “Prison Sex” and “Stinkfist.”

Australian electronic musician Anna Lunoe grew up discovering music the old-fashioned way: digging through crates of vinyl records at her local record store. “I was trying to find stuff my brothers didn’t know so I could one-up them,” Lunoe jokes on her website. 

More than 50 percent of Lane County residents have some Celtic heritage. At least that’s what Eugene Irish Cultural Festival organizer Peggy Hinsman has found in her research. So put down that James Joyce novel and head out to the 11th Annual Eugene Irish Cultural Festival Saturday, March 8, at Sheldon High School, with an opening concert Friday, March 7, at Beall Concert Hall featuring traditional Irish music.

Music news & notes from down in the Willamette valley.

Songwriter Ari Shine met his wife, Adrienne Pierce, in L.A.; the two immediately connected over shared interests like Canadian folk-rock band The Grapes of Wrath. Eventually Shine and Pierce struck out on their own, forming The Royal Oui.

Despite never writing lines over three beats long, Dom Kennedy works a pretty contagious game. In interviews, the California-born rapper sounds like Muhammad Ali, toting himself as the hardest-working, most prolific, sensational, fresh, badass artist in hip hop today.

Even though Elephant Revival released its latest offering, These Changing Skies, in 2013, the album was largely conceived before the band had even finished its previous release, 2012’s It’s Alive.

It’s easy to miss some of the many excellent musicians who swing through town, thanks to conflicts with other shows, a skimpy entertainment budget or simply an overabundance of awesomeness. This month offers numerous second-chance opportunities to catch some highly recommended performers you may have missed last time around — or didn’t, and want to catch again.

Not many people associate classical music or ballet with scandal, but that’s exactly what The Rite of Spring was on an early summer evening in Paris 101 years ago — a white-hot scandal. A near-riot shook the Théatre des Champs-Elysées as the discordant sounds of Igor Stravinsky’s Spring, accompanied by Vaslav Nijinsky’s jarring choreography, filled the hall. American novelist Gertrude Stein said of the fateful performance, “No sooner did the music begin and the dancing than [the audience] began to hiss.”

Music news & notes from down in the Willamette valley.

Cécile McLorin Salvant has gone from rising to shooting star in the world of jazz. The New York Times has heaped praise on the vocalist, declaring her the heir to the legacy of the “Big Three,” Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald. The 24-year-old French-American jazz singer won the prestigious Thelonious Monk Jazz Competition in 2010, and her first distributed album, 2013’s WomenChild, was a 2014 Grammy nominee. Now, she comes to Oregon for the first time, performing her debut concert at The Shedd Feb. 21. EW caught up with Salvant before she kicked off her West Coast tour.

Legendary British songwriter Nick Lowe has said of folk-pop musician Eleni Mandell: “She stole my band and my sound, but I’d still have her ’round for tea.” That quote is proudly displayed on Mandell’s website. Well, they say good artists copy and great artists steal. 

Getting to know Australian snotty-rockers Dune Rats via their online presence, you get a pretty clear picture of what to expect: The band’s Facebook page lists “max chillin” as an interest, describes the band’s sound as “dunecore stoner pop” and the members as “three hyperactive stoner cunts.” Digging into the music, you’ll find this all pretty apt.