It’s the end of January. My scarf is whipping in the wind. I’m not really sure where I’m heading, but I know I need to be outside. Well, I think I know that. Maybe.

January is a weird month. We go from the elation of the “New Year” to “Shit, How Am I Going […]

Wildlife Control: “Different”

They painted the halls a light green, so that when the patients are feeling ill they don’t see abrasive colors. There’s something soothing about that green found on marine ships for the same reason. But I want my grandma’s room painted in bright oranges and reds. I want warmth; I want her to feel […]

[Abby’s Road] Under Blankets


Covers. Cover songs, that is. I’ve talked about them before. Right. So I won’t go on and on over the bits I’ve mentioned then. Hopefully I don’t repeat myself very often. Here’s something new. I think.

I am big Shazamer. Wherever I am: car, shops, grocery…if I hear an unknown song and have my trusty iPhone, it’s happening. What a miracle, that Shazam. At any rate, post-identification, when I’m back in my bunker, an internet search follows. I want to hear the song again and anything else by said artist. This, of course, gets me sucked into a YouTube hole of monumental proportions. And I am not watching the nice stuff, that’s for damn certain.

I am a sucker for the “suggested” functions on ANYTHING. I mean, you never know. After watching and listening to what I was originally looking for I (nearly always) wander down the good ol’ “Related” road. This uncovers myriad do-it-yo-self videos. Here’s a little something to chew on: what is it that possesses a novice, fledgeling musician and drives them to put themselves and their rendition of WHATEVER onto the internet? Seriously. It’s rarely good. And my stars, it’s so hard to look away.

Why are these videos always so poorly lit? Turn on the goddamn lights. Unless you are in the bathroom with a backdrop of your ill-hanging shower curtain. This happens more often than I care to mention. Is it for acoustics?  Ultraviolet lighting (again, bad)? There are only a handful of reasons why you should be in the loo and I don’t want to see any of them. Like I said, I can’t look away. Somebody. Anybody.

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Marching Band releases new EP And I’ve Never Seen Anything Like That

One of our favorite bands on Knox Road (and of the Swedish-variety, which is always a major plus), Marching Band, has returned with their latest EP, And I’ve Never Seen Anything Like That. There are some groups whose material I will not hesitate to post when it comes our way, and Marching Band […]

Andrew McHenry

When I listen to Andrew McHenry’s latest — and, to my knowledge, first — EP, I can’t help but notice the similarities to Elliott Smith. It’s not just a hint of Smith I hear in these songs, it’s a very strong resemblance. McHenry plays delicately layered guitar melodies and adds crisp, sing-a-long vocals […]

[Abby’s Road] In like a Lion


So. Social media and digital subscription services. Despite one’s attempts to avoid and not use them (I myself am anti-Twitter), both have infiltrated our lives to a point of being as common as a daily physical newspaper, which, ironically, 24 hour-a-day news-hungry public notwithstanding, has disappeared from some of the most lucrative of journalistic markets. When I mention a television program or a movie to my mother on the telephone and she’s like, “Hmm…didn’t see it. I’ll just Hulu it” one knows the Digital Age has crept into the lives of even some of its most (at one time) staunch critics. When my mom starts verbing website names? Right. You just know it (you go, mom).

For the most part, barring those addicted to porn or, even sadder, obese children, overly-round from hours in front of their laptops and iPads instead of running and jumping in the green green grass, the quest for information and entertainment has been positively simplified (exponentially) from 20 years ago. Anyone out there remember microfiche? The absolute DEVIL. Enough said. I do, however, find myself looking back at the days of hoarding music magazines, the extra-curricular side of print media utilization, with fondness. There is just something about the smell of a new magazine that’s warming. And it’s not like music nerds back in the day had a choice. It was either you read magazines (and listened to radio, sometimes) or not know what the hell was going on. I get sentimental about those days. Call me old fashioned. Probably wouldn’t be the first time. But I digress.

Recently, the chain of events which led me to my most recent obsession, band-wise, is the perfect example of how social media and online music (with a sprinkling of radio for good measure) works its recipe of magic. Indulge me.

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New music from Color of Clouds

The sun is past setting and she closes her blinds, flipping on three of her room lamps. She looks at the wooden floorboards of her apartment and gets lost in the maze. The steam heater in the corner spouts water into its crevices, making everything appear darker than it did the day before. She […]

Federale: Spaghetti Western and Beyond


Seven musicians crowd onto the stage at Mississippi Studios in north Portland–they’re dressed in cowboy hats and bolo ties, a hipster take on the wild west. The frontman, a guy with light brown hair that swoops across his face, all the way down to his chin, steps up to the mic. He looks to the ground, purses his lips, raises his slanted eyes to the crowd and unleashes a long, lonely whistle. A tragic trumpet sings. A snare drum crackles. And the band begins to play.

This is Federale, Portland’s premier spaghetti western ensemble.

The house is packed tonight. Some don corduroy vests and flat top cowboy hats; flannel shirts under beige vests with tight jeans and black leather shoes. The crowd is made up of excitable young kids and worn-out 30-somethings in groups of four–double dates or friends on the town, all here for a singular purpose: to see a good show.

And of all the shows in Portland on this particular Saturday night, this show promises to be the best. Promoted by the media powerhouse trio of The Portland Mercury, Willamette Week and The Oregonian, it’s easy to get carried away in the cyclone of hype that surrounds Federale. But who are they? Who are these weirdos playing dark, lonely cowboy songs in the 21st century Pacific Northwest?

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Stream Coasts’ new song, “Oceans”

It’s frigid. I’m out on the roof with this pretty girl I met a few weeks ago, her cheeks rosy. We’re picking and licking icicles. I kind of want to buy those neon lights that will make the ice shine so my whole roof is magical. My very own ice castle. I’ll bring her […]

Otis Heat Burns Up On a Frigid Portland New Years Eve

In a sudden twist of fate, my New Year’s plans were cemented. I’ve been staying in St. Johns, in northwest Portland–a funky little neighborhood with all the weird charms you come to expect in PDX. As it happens, Otis Heat, a band I wrote about back in 2009, is playing a four-band show down the road. My friend and recent transplant, Jayson, drives up from Salem and we dive into the night.

The show is at a place called Red Sea Church. It’s a beautiful place. The walls bow in, steeply up until they nervously meet–like a great wooden arc, cut lengthwise and reassembled backwards. All the pews are cleared away. The alter is moved aside for drum kits and amps. The relics are stripped away, but a sense of awe–the kind that fills your soul with timid reverence–lingers.

Two guys amble onstage. Dude in a newsboy cap picks up a guitar. His counterpart, a sleek-looking guy with jet-black hair, sits at the drums. They take a deep breath, and they let loose a tsunami of sound. They blast the timidity into a fine sand. I look around to see if anybody else is drowning in this terrific sea; the stoney looks tell me they’re drifting somewhere in the undertow.

I look to the merchendise table for some clue of who these sirens are–it tells me they’re called Irie Idea. I don’t know what it means, but if you translate the music, you get something of a funky blues-based jam. Their songs move from a crunching grunge–appropriate for the cruel Portland winter–and upbeat jams that start to thaw the crowd’s frigid feet.

They’re a two-piece outfit, but Irie Idea manage to fill the sound almost completely. They play tight and they play furiously. It’s an intimate, manic jam session between friends, and we’re standing witness to the beautiful storm.

Continue reading Otis Heat Burns Up On a Frigid Portland New Years Eve