Eugene Weekly : Music : 2.26.09

Move and Groove

Some bands just know how to make you move. They effortlessly combine their talents to create a sound that turns each song into a musical dance partner who first shows off a few moves, then beckons you onto the dance floor and finally sets you to grooving in ways you’re not likely to soon forget. Basin & Range is one of those bands, and each member supplies the necessary musical bones, flesh and sinews to create the ultimate dance partner on their new EP, Release Party

Not content to simply make groovy jazz or nasty funk, the band combines both of these styles with R&B and rock to make for one heck of a dance party. “Muggy” is a perfectly funky jam replete with sax and guitar solos that shimmer and echo in assorted directions. This song is emblematic of the entire album’s presentation, as is the head-bobbing, hand-clapping stomper “Parade.” It’s a good time from start to finish. The album’s five tracks are similar only in that they get you on your feet and moving before you know what’s hit you. Apart from that, these songs are diverse and interesting, and you never get the same thing twice. If you love to dance, this is a show you will be glad you went to. Basin & Range play a CD release show at 9:30 pm Friday, Feb. 27, at the Oak Street Speakeasy. 21+. Free.
Brian Palmer

Whose Clues?

It’s the kind of listing that makes a certain kind of music fan sit right up and hit Google: Sam Bond’s is bringing us The Clues, a band featuring former Arcade Fire member Brendan Reed and former Unicorns fellow Alden Penner. Last fall, posted one song, “Perfect Fit,”  from The Clues’ forthcoming self-titled record (due on Constellation Records in May). It’s more Unicorns than AF, at least at first; it’s a little playful, with goofy vocals and a major shift in tone near the end. A video of the band at Pop Montreal shows them going from a spare vocals/guitar song to one with quirky whistling and the occasional vocal harmony — and a tiny bit of epic swelling and swooning. The Constellation site describes the record as “idiosyncratic and enigmatic, but exuberantly infectious and approachable,” and a wee sample of early recordings (on certainly backs up that claim. The Clues, Fiction and Leo London play at 8:30 pm Sunday, March 1, at Sam Bond’s. 21+. $8. — Molly Templeton 

Synth Jam

STS9’s stoned electronics feel sort of like raving in Jell-O. The electronic answer to jam bands, this instrumental outfit’s been making its unusual blend of drum ‘n’ bass, rock and roll and straight-up funk for more than 10 years, first as Sector 9, but after copyright conflicts with a longboard company, as Sound Tribe Sector 9 (or STS9). The hippie-esque name belies the hypnotic nature of the music, in which thumping drums give way to smooth, repetitive guitar licks; it’s kinda like what might happen if My Bloody Valentine started making dance music. Their latest record, Peaceblaster, explores the dichotomy between the two words its title mushes together, sleek, seamless live instrumentals bleeding into each other as pounding percussion adds a sense of tension and urgency. Live, these guys know how to keep a party going: expect a two-hour long set complete with remixes and improvised alterations to old songs. STS9 and Pnuma PA Set play at 8 pm Thursday, March 5, at the McDonald Theatre. $22.50 adv., $25 door. — Sara Brickner

Demon Chaser

With contemporary Irish music, there’s always a sense of the past meeting the future, and no more so than when a band takes a traditional song and gives it a new life. Circled by Hounds have done a great job with the song “A Man You Don’t Meet Everyday.” The arrangement they’ve chosen is understated, with guitar strumming behind the lilting flute of new member Hanz Araki. Sung by Kathryn Claire, it’s reassuring and friendly, a lovely gift to give their fans as a hidden track on their new CD, Howl No Demon Louder.

Those who enjoyed the zest of Eugene band Toad in the Hole will be glad to know the remains of that band soldier on. Now based in Portland, the band that was a three-piece on 2006’s Chasing Our Tales has expanded to a quintet. 

About half the tracks on Howl are instrumental and are underpinned by the rhythm of guest banjoist Ezra Holbrook and accordionist Johnny B. Connolly. Each band member’s playing is wonderful, with Claire and Sarah Dee’s weaving fiddles turning cartwheels in the tune “Open Road.” Strong percussion is an anchor throughout, as is Claire’s warm and openhearted voice. Though most of the songs CBH chose for Howl are traditionals, one tune in particular stands out: “The Tinkerman,” an original written by Claire and guitarist Matthew Hayward-McDonald. The song grows from a plaintive fiddle soaring over a waltzing rhythm to a driving, percussive, unstoppered force that swirls on itself until it comes to rest again.

While CBH’s earlier CD had an energy to it that stemmed from the sheer joy of playing, the group now seems to have matured into a deeper palette. When everyone plays together, they become one smooth ensemble, a band with the confidence to appreciate the past while navigating new terrain and making each song their own. Circled by Hounds celebrate the release of their new CD at 5 pm Saturday, Feb. 28, at Tsunami Books (all ages) and with Casey Neill and the Norway Rats at 9:30 pm Saturday, Feb. 28, at Sam Bond’s Garage (21+, $7). — Vanessa Salvia