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Music

July 2, 2015

You’re living in a sleepy, shitty, cozy little town and, suddenly, everything changes. It seems to happen overnight, like some bent fairy tale: The restaurants get way better, the drugs improve, coffee shops sprout on every corner, yippies start yammering about gentrification and yesterday’s wine, bourgeois hepcats from L.A. and Phoenix gallop in, now everyone’s either an artist or a suit or a fucking snake.

Nostalgia hits the roof. Your rent spikes.

July 2, 2015

Sarah Donner is a New Jersey-based singer-songwriter and self-described “creative type.” Her live show includes three guitars and a ukulele. Donner tells EW she plays all four at the same time.

All at the same time? Really? 

“No,” Donner says. “We have dancing girls,” she jokes, before getting serious: “It’s highly upbeat and entertaining. I try to keep it lighthearted. I don’t want to be ‘that girl with a guitar.’ So I always try and make it funny and quirky.” 

June 25, 2015

Indie-soul outfit My Brothers and I is making big noises up north, recently signing to Portland’s Expunged Records — a label with a long history of working with critical darlings like Blind Pilot. 

Label founder Anthony McNamer says he knew he wanted to work with My Brother and I after seeing footage of the band performing live.

“They have those harmonies that you only get from siblings,” McNamer says via press release. The five-piece band features three brothers and two childhood friends. 

June 25, 2015

Columbus, Ohio-based emcee Blueprint, aka Albert Shepard, doesn’t pull any punches. Never the type to pepper an album with radio-ready “bangers,” Shepard is an artist who creates for himself. His lyrics are incredibly personal and real-to-life, sometimes isolating the casual listener because, let’s face it, most of us go to great lengths to avoid truly knowing ourselves.

Not Shepard. Soul-baring is an essential part of the package. 

June 25, 2015

Daniel Blue — who once made love in the bathroom at Eugene’s Ninkasi Brewery — grew up in a highly religious family where he wasn’t allowed to listen to secular music.

Now, he’s the frontman of Motopony, the Seattle sextet that fuses Northwest indie folk with the current electronic craze. 

June 25, 2015

L.A. electro-pop duo Ultra Violent Rays draws comparisons to darkly sensual and moody acts like Portishead. 

The band describes their sound as “the hypothetical sonic lovechild of Siouxsie Sioux, Phantogram and the movie Blade Runner.” 

Ultra Violent Rays’ current single “Wish” is propelled by hypnotic, electronic drums, a ghostly whistle, shimmering and watery keyboards and vocalist Cooper Gillespie’s ethereal voice — borrowing an irresistible hook from childhood: “Wish I may/ Wish I might/ Find the words to make it right.” 

June 18, 2015

San Diego indie rockers The Donkeys are tie-dying their T-shirts. “It just seemed like a good idea,” band member Timothy DeNardo tells EW

DeNardo says there’s a hippie vibe to their upcoming West Coast tour, which stops in Eugene for a free show June 19 in the Hi-Fi Music Hall lounge. 

“We’re playing a couple festivals and a show on the solstice,” DeNardo says, so tie-dye band T-shirts seem appropriate.

June 18, 2015

Long before Mad Men there was How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying, the 1961 musical that satirized American corporate culture via humor rather than pathos. Frank Loesser and Abe Burrows’ Pulitzer- and Tony-winning spoof chronicles the classic rags-to-riches story of a window washer who rises to the executive suite, providing plentiful opportunity for skewering the toadying, manipulative, deceptive behavior demanded by the system of ambitious greasy pole-climbers. 

June 18, 2015

Olympia-based, Southern California-born musician Elizabeth le Fey (aka Globelamp) loves The Beatles. 

“They have a lot of different parts in the music, like ‘A Day in the Life,’” le Fey tells EW. “I love that about The Beatles. It’s like you’re on a roller coaster.” 

Le Fey says The Beatles’ willingness to expand the traditional pop song formula is an influence on her sound, which she calls psychedelic folk.

June 18, 2015

Lauded purveyors of fierce and rebellious street punk, London’s U.K. Subs have released 24 albums and toured extensively over the past 40 years, showing no signs of slowing down, let alone stopping.

Balancing just enough rough and tumble energy with choruses you want to shout along to and the occasional blistering solo, the Subs have crafted their own unique (but now thoroughly imitated) blend of punk, hardcore and “Oi!” — a subgenre of ’70s punk rock from the U.K. 

June 11, 2015

Kevin Seconds, founding member of veteran punk-rock band 7 Seconds, says punk needs young people. 

“I always did say punk and hardcore is driven by the youth,” Seconds tells EW. “Whether or not I agree with what they’re doing with it ­— a lot of times I don’t — it’s in their hands.” 

He adds, “A lot of us who’ve been at it a long time need to swallow our pride and say: ‘Fuck it.’” 

June 11, 2015

Hailing from Chico, California, Cold Blue Mountain combines the simple, riff-driven approach of moderately paced doom, the frenetic energy of hardcore and the melodic elements of ’90s alternative rock to craft a highly accessible, unique brand of metal all its own. 

June 11, 2015

Born Jo-Vaughn Scott to parents from the Caribbean, Joey Bada$$ cofounded hip-hop collective Pro Era in 2010. He was just 15 years old.  

“It started as a progressive movement,” the Brooklyn-born emcee tells EW. “Yeah, we was all into hip hop. But it just started with a group of friends with a bunch of similar interests: positivity for the youth, being anti-corruption. The simple shit, man.”  

June 11, 2015

California’s Dr. Know are no strangers to change. The early years of these godfathers of “nardcore” were filled with fights, going through no less than eight vocalists and some inarguably excellent punk rock. Their 1983 compilations We Got Power, Party Or Go Home and It Came From Slimy Valley are championed as classics, but also showcase a band riddled by constant change. 

June 4, 2015

Purists may shudder, but musical miscegenation has always been the rule. 

“Enjoy hybrid music, because that’s all there is,” Oregon-born composer Lou Harrison often said. Regarded as the godfather of what became the world music movement, Harrison typically expressed this sentiment before demonstrating how just about every form of music emerges from encounters with the sounds of other cultures and times. 

June 4, 2015

Mischief Brew still makes music for the same reasons they did in high school. According to lead singer Erik Petersen, his guitar and the road are as addictive as a bad habit.

“You’re angry; you need a release,” says Petersen, who also jams on guitar and mandolin for the folk-punk band. “We’re older now. We have jobs, houses, some of us have kids. But it never gets old, and it keeps coming back to you.” 

June 4, 2015

The Northwest metal scene is rife with stoner, doom and black metal stereotypes thick enough to choke out the sun. Still there are a precious few acts that transcend, escaping the mire to unfurl like wildflowers springing from the thorniest of thickets. Amongst these are local favorites Agalloch and Yob, in many ways kindred spirits, though vastly dissimilar in sound.

June 4, 2015

Had Yelawolf never elevated his game beyond the flush of his furious 2010 mixtape Trunk Muzik, which contained at least one bona-fide masterpiece in “Pop the Trunk,” he’d yet remain a significant footnote in the history of modern hip hop — an Alabama-born rapper of manic intensity and talent who gnawed his initials into the rusty proud husk of Southern culture on the skids of the 21st century.

June 4, 2015

It’s a troubling contradiction that today’s music business — ostensibly an industry of songs — could make a quality songwriter like Ron Sexsmith feel antiquated and out of place. 

“I feel like a guy who’s making antique tables and chairs,” the Canadian musician tells EW. “I’ve always felt out of place or unfashionable ever since my first record came out.”

June 4, 2015

Originally from Wainfleet, Ontario, neo-folk quintet Great Lake Swimmers play music as idyllic as their scenic rural hometown. Frontman Tony Dekker’s light, sweet voice and melody-driven songwriting is partnered with familiar bluegrass backing instruments: acoustic guitar, banjo, upright bass and violin.

Dekker tells EW, though, that “as a group, we have a deep respect for the folk tradition, but I wouldn’t exactly call us a traditional folk band.”

May 28, 2015

It’s fitting for a band obsessed with Anne Frank to be reclusive. After a 12-year vanishing act, Neutral Milk Hotel is touring again. The group has entered a gilded age, and rightly so. 

May 21, 2015

Austin singer-songwriter Alejandro Rose-Garcia, better known as Shakey Graves, wants to scratch all of your respective itches. Drawing from myriad sounds that prove difficult to solidly place a finger on, he dwells in a dusty sonic landscape somewhere between Two Gallants and M. Ward. 

However, Graves has never needed the aid of a Zooey Deschanel to lure out or take the blame for his pop sensibility. 

May 21, 2015

The May 26 show at WOW Hall is a bit of a rare bird as far as Eugene goes: The lineup features two badass acts, both women. Over the phone, I mention to singer-songwriter Jenny Lewis how unusual this is, to have a show here with nary a beard gracing the stage.

“I’ve always tried to be fair with picking openers,” Lewis says. “It’s just cool to have all females on the bill.” 

May 21, 2015

The meteoric rise of Glass Animals was unexpected, especially for frontman Dave Bayley. In fact, the success of the indie-electro rock band feels much like a dream.

Bayley produced many of the band’s early original recordings in his bedroom in Oxford, England. He tells EW that he never expected anyone to hear his music, adding that he was at first “too shy” to sing over his instrumentation.