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Music

December 1, 2016

Portland singer-songwriter Tara Velarde fuses a wide range of vocals and Latin rhythms to create a concoction I can only describe as diva folk. In the course of one album, Velarde maneuvers her voice from feathery to spine-tingling. You could compare her to Ingrid Michaelson or Laura Marling, but she raises the bar for folk-pop with her experimental and multi-influential mash-ups within the genre. 

December 1, 2016

It’s often said punks and hippies don’t get along. Nevertheless, Blag Dahlia, vocalist and founding member of legendary and, in some circles, notorious San Francisco shock-punk legends Dwarves, would like to extend an olive branch to the hippie girls of Eugene. 

“Hippie girls are fine by me,” Dahlia tells EW. “But please shower.” 

December 1, 2016

Mike Stortz always dreamt of relocating his band Johnny Raincloud from South Florida to Portland. During a recent visit to Oregon, Stortz caught a show at Portland music venue Crystal Ballroom. What transpired convinced Stortz to take the plunge.

"James Mercer of The Shins walked past me,” Stortz recalls. “Chris Funk of The Decemberists was at the bar around the corner. I was freaking out. I took it as a sign.”

December 1, 2016

As a young man, Chris Robinson experienced overnight success with his band The Black Crowes. The Crowes had a major hit in the late '80s with their album Shake Your Money Maker, led by the Rolling Stones-esque single “Hard To Handle.” 

“I had a lot of people who could say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ about my life,” Robinson explains to EW. “It’s cool when people say ‘no.’ It’s really dangerous when people say ‘yes.’”

“The Black Crowes didn’t get to have a trajectory,” he continues. “We were shot out of a cannon.” 

November 23, 2016

New York-born Ian Matthias Bavitz, better known in the alt-rap world as Aesop Rock, is the epitome of a committed artist. Bavitz has been churning out music with mind-blowing word counts and sick rhythms for more than two decades, but there’s something more to his style than hyping up a crowd. This guy is a sculptor; the beat is his foundation, which he cuts and molds with his lyrics to create a work of art.

November 23, 2016

Much like life and politics, this week’s music news brings you a mix of good and bad, light and dark. First, the happy: Portland’s Summer Cannibals nearly stole the show opening for The Thermals last spring at Hi-Fi Music Hall. And now the sludgy, motorcycle-punk trio has announced its return 8 pm Saturday, Jan. 14, at WOW Hall. Summer Cannibals tour behind their latest LP Full of It, out now on Kill Rock Stars, and behind her girlish demeanor, singer and vocalist Jessica Boudreaux brings a ferocious guitar style and charismatic, high-energy stage presence.

November 18, 2016

Christopher Ward, known as mc chris, is considered the king of nerdcore rap. Filmmaker Kevin Smith once called him the “poet laureate of pop culture” due to his entertainment-inspired lyrics.

Mc chris is not the first rapper to make hip-hop songs about his geekier side. The Wu-Tang Clan, for example, has made more than ten references to Star Wars while also giving shout outs to Marvel comic book characters in their songs. But Ward is one of the most successful hip-hop stars to ever make nerd culture the focal point of his career.

November 17, 2016

YG might not be a rapper that everyone has heard of, but his politically straightforward message echoed throughout cities across the nation last Tuesday night as results of the presidential election filtered in. The Compton rapper released his single “FDT (Fuck Donald Trump)" back in March — and, in fact, someone drove down 13th Avenue repeatedly playing this during the Trump rally in May — but the catchphrase has remained a whopping battle-cry during this political cycle. 

November 17, 2016

Consider the humpback whale. Small pods separated by a million gallons of briny seawater, seeking kinship in endless blue. It is widely acknowledged that the aquatic mammals sing to one another. Using echolocation, then, two whales set miles apart can find each other and continue their song in unison. In a vast sea of musical voices, this is not an uncommon occurrence. But what likelihood is there that these two voices, drawn together from far-off reaches, will intertwine in perfect harmony? Here on land, the members of Lake Toba face down those odds.

November 17, 2016

Comic book artist, musician and New York native Jeffrey Lewis comes to Eugene behind his 2015 release, the appropriately titled Manhattan. Like a lost Lou Reed album, Manhattan recalls a time when New York was friendlier to artists and freaks. 

“I had a bowl of borscht in a tiny old neighborhood restaurant yesterday and Philip Glass was sitting at the table next to mine,” Lewis says. “He still lives here, too.” 

November 17, 2016

Classical music institutions usually reach backward, content to be historical museums of music by long-dead composers. It wasn’t always thus: Composers like Bach and Beethoven would have been appalled to see how today’s orchestras play mostly yesterday’s music. Had that notion prevailed in their time, the music of those great composers wouldn’t have survived. That retro attitude, a product of the early-mid-20th century, has gradually been changing, and Eugene Symphony president Scott Freck wants his band to lead the way. 

November 10, 2016
Skating Polly

 

November 10, 2016

When Andrew Katz, the drummer of alt-indie band Car Seat Headrest, was asked how he feels about returning to his hometown when touring, his response was: “God, it’s awful. I hate it.” 

Keep in mind that Katz is from Eugene, and grew up a mere eight blocks from the University of Oregon campus. 

November 10, 2016

Rising Appalachia adds an intoxicating recipe of banjo, blues and hip hop to old-time mountain folk. Front women and sisters Leah Song and Chloe Smith are two songbirds (or swamp fairies) who poetically confront social, environmental and political injustices — all the while sticking to their filthy, dirty Southern roots. 

November 10, 2016

It’s been a particularly rainy autumn around these parts. Maggie Morris, vocalist and guitarist with Portland band Genders, says the weather feels like home. “Rainy as ever!” Morris emails from Portland. “But damn if it didn’t feel really great. It’s still beautiful and magical.” 

November 3, 2016

Eugene-Portland punk band Dirtclodfight has an impressive pedigree stretching back to SoCal in the late ’80s, including stints with well-known record labels Flipside and Cavity Search. 

After an extended hiatus, bandleader Phil Merwin rebooted the band in Eugene, along with Portlanders Dean Miles on drums and Jason Locher on bass. 

“I could never really get away,” Merwin says, recalling his decision to reform the band. “It’s what I do.” 

November 3, 2016

The Jackson-Hole-by-way-of-New-York indie-acoustic soul outfit Benyaro, featuring Ben Musser and Leif Routman, has been through Eugene several times before, but this time the duo is rolling through on its “Get Out the Vote” tour — partnering with Rock the Vote and HeadCount organizations — even if that means performing a day after the election, Nov. 9, with Idaho’s country-rock heartbreaker Jeff Crosby at the post-election party at Axe & Fiddle in Cottage Grove; free.

November 3, 2016

Following the demise of the late, lamented G.L.O.S.S., New York duo PWR BTTM is a strong contender for the title of most visible — and thus most important — queer punk band in America. Mixing rock-duo slop with drunk-Beatles hooks and heart-on-sleeve (but mercifully unaffected) lyrics, this is pop punk that doesn’t sacrifice pop for the punk, or vice versa. Your queer buddies — and some of your straight buddies too — may be bugging you about this band for a long time.  

November 3, 2016

In very different ways, concerts this month take listeners on a sentimental journey into the past. The Thursday, Nov. 3, concert at The Shedd features Bill Frisell gazing wistfully back at his boomer childhood.

October 27, 2016

Cherub (an electro-indie band, not a naked angel baby) made me a little weary at first listen. It’s a group of dudes that seem like unruly, rich suburban kids — but don’t judge a bro by his neon tee. Cherub provides a breath of funky fresh air if you’re in the mood to dance away a night of electro-pop debauchery.  

October 27, 2016

Sometimes, Tucker Alley even scares his girlfriend with his lyrics.

“Weren’t you writing a song about drowning children?” she asks as Alley flips through his notebook. “It sounds really bad when I say it, but …”

He finds the song. It’s called “I Win” with the lyric: “Give me daughter, give me son, I want to drown them all.”

October 27, 2016

A new season, new cellist and new album featuring new music: Eugene’s Delgani String Quartet just keeps refuting the outdated notion that classical music is all about old stuff. 

Just starting its second full season, the young foursome has already won prestigious grants from Oregon Cultural Trust and Oregon Community Foundation, commissioned several new works, launched a summer chamber music camp in Cottage Grove, played more than 100 concerts and educational programs and impressed listeners throughout the Willamette Valley. 

October 20, 2016

Pop-punk played a big role in a majority of millennials’ childhoods. From moshing at the Vans Warped Tour to staying dedicated to the fact that being “scene” or “emo” (or whatever else you want to call it) as a teenager was not a phase — bands like Blink-182, Fall Out Boy or New Found Glory probably filled some space in your life.

If any of this rings true for you, a little Floridian band called Yellowcard probably did too. 

October 20, 2016

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. 

ShiSho, a folk-punk-comedy duo comprised of teenaged sisters Viviane and Midge Ramone, recently relocated to Eugene from Akron, Ohio. The pair has accomplished all those monumental things while still living at home with their parents.