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Music

September 21, 2017

Back in 2007, rapper Lil Wayne no-showed for a concert at MacArthur Court on the University of Oregon campus. Katie Matthews, life-long hip hop fan and employee at Skip’s Records & CD World in west Eugene, says she’s “still a little bitter about it.” 

At the time, Wayne was considered the greatest rapper in the game. Fans loved his free-associative and surrealist lyrical style and bad-boy image. Detractors labeled him cartoonish, but many found his madness inspired.

September 21, 2017

Michelle Zauner, who writes music under the moniker Japanese Breakfast, was born in Seoul, Korea, but grew up right here in Eugene. “I feel like I got my start there,” Zauner tells Eugene Weekly over the phone.

Zauner started writing music at 16 and took guitar lessons at Guitar Center’s Lesson Factory. She played her first shows, in a band called Little Girl Big Spoon, at Cozmic Pizza (now Whirled Pies) open mics, WOW Hall and South Eugene High School (where she attended school).

September 21, 2017

James Mercer has been listening to David Bowie.

Now based in Portland, Mercer is the primary songwriter and sole remaining original member of The Shins lineup. A quirky, indie-pop guitar act, the Shins were first heard by many on the soundtrack of the 2004 Zach Braff film Garden State

In that movie, Natalie Portman coaxes Braff to listen to the now-classic Shins tune “New Slang,” insisting it will change his life. The Shins come back to Eugene behind this year’s Heartworms, a record hailed by many as a return-to-form for the band. 

September 14, 2017

Mountain Moves, the latest album from San Francisco art-rockers Deerhoof, features guest appearances and collaborations from artists like Argentine songwriter Juana Molina, Stereolab vocalist Laetitia Sadier and many more. 

But when Deerhoof hits the road this fall, founding member Greg Saunier tells me, “we’re a Deerhoof cover band.” He’s explaining how Deerhoof strips back Mountain Moves’ particularly complex and nuanced production for a band that got its start playing experimental noise-punk. 

September 14, 2017

California-born DJ TOKiMONSTA (Jennifer Lee) is a sculptor of space who uses sound as her tool. Between trip-hop, lo-fi beats, classic sampling methods and uniquely mixed collaborations, Lee creates art — immersive, emotive and abstract.

Lee has a knack for fusing uncomfortable time signatures into streams of melody that unexpectedly blend better than your mother’s cookie dough. For seven years she has incorporated her past as a classical pianist with her lust to experiment amongst the newest sounds in the West Coast beat scene. 

September 14, 2017

Syrian-American Azniv Korkejian’s self-titled debut, released under the moniker Bedouine, is an effortlessly elegant collection of country-tinged folk-pop recalling midnight-blue classics from Leonard Cohen, Nick Drake or Joni Mitchell.

September 7, 2017

Chicago is a city of enormity — physically and energetically — and in its emotiveness lies a stoic beauty. From every beat of traffic, somber winter snowfall and thick pavement ripples of a city summer, Chicago-born soul artist Ravyn Lenae translates the heartbeat of the city into song. 

September 7, 2017

English heavy metal singer Blaze Bayley recalls sitting with his mother and watching early seasons of Star Trek and Doctor Who. Bayley feels this started a lifelong interest in sci-fi stories. “In those days, to see a door slide open by itself was unbelievable,” he says. “Now if you go to the mall and the door doesn’t open by itself, you’re amazed. I’ve got a full-blown computer in my phone. It’s unbelievable!”

September 7, 2017

A few years ago, Oregon-born pianist Hunter Noack was scheduled to play Arnold Schoenberg’s famous 1899 composition Transfigured Night at London’s Barbican Center. Since the original poem was set in a dark forest, Noack brought in 50 trees, playing the music as audience and actors dramatizing the story wandered through the impromptu indoor arbor.

“People responded to hearing classical music in a different environment,” Noack recalls, “so I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool to use the actual outdoors?’” in a performance.

August 31, 2017

I was born in 1976. Early memories I retain from around that era include a black van my parents had with actual carpet inside of it, Star Wars action figures,and watching Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom and The Muppet Show.

Occasionally The Muppet Show had musical guests like Loretta Lynn, Roger Miller or Johnny Cash — my first introduction to country music, and specifically the country music of the 1970s, a time when cowboys gave up horses and whiskey for long-haul trucks and the white stuff.

August 31, 2017

In the early 1980s, classic New York hardcore band Reagan Youth sang “We are Reagan Youth!” dropping a “sieg heil” for satirical effect. This was in keeping with punk’s rejection of flower-power’s pacifist tendencies in favor of more confrontational approaches.

Reagan Youth made their name co-opting these kinds of controversial KKK and Nazi images, making political, anti-racist and anarcho-punk statements that sadly — nearly 40 years later, with neo-Nazis marching in American streets — feel more relevant than ever. 

August 24, 2017

Often a young musician is shaped by a singular performance that clicks a switch inside her, a switch that says: “I could do that, too.”

For Corin Tucker of Sleater-Kinney, that moment came at the WOW Hall.

“When I was in high school, it was Fugazi and Mecca Normal and Beat Happening,” says Tucker, who grew up in Eugene and now lives in Portland. “That show pretty much changed my life. Seeing those kinds of shows live can bring you into the realm of, ‘I really want to do that.’”

August 24, 2017

Not all orchestra music directors live in the city where they conduct. Most have multiple gigs and spend much of their time on airplanes and in hotel rooms. But newly appointed Eugene Symphony music director Francesco Lecce-Chong decided to move here — during last month’s 107-degree heat wave, no less. 

“You travel so much as a conductor anyway that you can pick your spot,” he explains. “It’s such a beautiful place, and when you’re starting a new job in a new place, you want to invest in it.” 

August 24, 2017

Your friend gets cancer days before his girlfriend announces she’s pregnant, your father dies in a head-on collision on his way to church — sometimes you just need a goddamn drink.

Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats take life’s lowest days and turn them into old-timey rock tunes catchy enough to make a sourpuss hoop and holler her troubles away (at least until tomorrow’s hangover).

August 24, 2017

The experimental blues of Hello Dollface puts listeners under a spell. In true witch fashion, Ashley Edwards (front woman and creature of the night) is on a spiritual journey to bring women closer together with the power of song and energy.

“Sound travels very quickly; we understand sound. It’s a fundamental nature to understand light and sound and what it does to our body,” Edwards explains. 

August 17, 2017

I’m eating skewered beef heart with Eugene band Le Rev at a Peruvian restaurant in the Whiteaker neighborhood, and the band is explaining how they started playing music together in a snowstorm. “That’s kind of a beautiful thing,” I say, thinking of the oppressive heat outside and how the next day threatens to be the hottest of the summer. 

“It was like, negative 10,” exaggerates Le Rev multi-instrumentalist Colin Redmond.

“We were snowed in,” adds Nick Gamer, who sings but also switches between guitar and bass in the band’s revolving lineup.

August 17, 2017

Indie singer-songwriter Margaret Glaspy is a collision of contrasts. Her petite frame hosts a diaphragm that belts out sandpaper-rough lyrics while her nimble fingers string along lazy blues chords. Glaspy has pieced together these opposites to create the sound of success, as evident in the wake of her first full-length album, Emotions and Math (June 2016).

August 10, 2017

Every artist wants to build a brand these days, so it takes some courage to change your name after building up a reputation and a fan base. But that’s what Jasnam Daya Singh — previously Weber Iago, and before that called Weber Drummond — has done.

August 10, 2017

Rockabilly-Americana band Petunia and the Vipers delivers toe-tapping rhythms with lyrics sure to make your spine shiver like a sharp shot of whiskey. Pull out your flask (liquor optional) and slap on your best pair of Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas shades to properly experience the Vipers’ latest, hauntingly charismatic album, Dead Bird On the Highway (2016).

August 10, 2017

Our favorite moments from Pickathon 2017.

All photos by Todd Cooper, except “Priests” by Dmitri Von Klein.

Charles Bradley and his Extraordinaires

Priests

 

August 10, 2017

Veteran heavy metal demi-gods Slayer return to Eugene behind their 12th studio album, 2015’s Repentless. And — besides a long and consistent output of some of the most diabolical and scorching heavy music in the game — what makes Slayer metal demi-gods are some truly metal life experiences. 

August 3, 2017

Surveying this year’s Whiteaker Block Party music schedule (12 stages!), it’s hard to know where to start. So EW put together its own music itinerary. Call it a tour-guide or a list of must-see acts you don’t want to miss at the year’s biggest — and really only — showcase of local talent. You can’t see it all, but if you see anything, consider these suggestions. The WBP runs noon to 10 pm Saturday, Aug. 5, and revolves around the corner of 3rd and Van Buren in, of course, the Whit. 

August 3, 2017

Brian Viglioni, drummer with New York four-piece rock band Scarlet Sails, agrees there’s a theatrical edge to his band’s latest release, Future from the Past. Scarlet Sails is fronted by Viglioni’s Russian-American wife, Olya Viglioni, and Brian himself is known for working with well known acts like Dresden Dolls and as a studio musician and touring drummer for Nine Inch Nails and Violent Femmes. 

July 27, 2017

Kilynn Lunsford, vocalist with noisy art-rock band Taiwan Housing Project, is feeling scattered as she talks to me on the phone from her home in Philadelphia. “It’s hot,” she says.

Along with the rest of her band, Lunsford is prepping to leave on a month-long tour supporting the band’s latest release, Veblen Death Mask, out now on legendary Northwest indie record label Kill Rock Stars. 

“I’m packing,” she says. “We’re leaving tomorrow — early. It’s pretty stressful.”