Live at Doug Fir: Red Fang, Aan, WL

Tuesday was Portland’s first Red Bull Sound Select showcase where three awesome local PDX groups come together and shred the Doug Fir. A mixture of new-wave, post-rock, and doom metal fans RSVP’d for three bucks to see up-and-comers WL, our favorite local dreamcatchers Aan, and the untouchable stoner outfit Red Fang. We snagged our very first interview with Aan to talk about their new album Amor Ad Nauseum out in February.

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WL is always a joy in concert. With a sophisticated and stripped down sound, they don’t leave much not to like.

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Aan is an ethereal beast. Leadman Bud Wilson works in patches of color and swaths of shimmering light. The powerful songwriting and lo-fi aesthetic recall Modest Mouse, but Aan is more. They’re Portland’s unsung pioneers of pop music for a new dawn. We crave this experimental, vaguely spiritual quality in our music. And Aan gives us this. Their debut album Amor Ad Nauseum comes out February 4th. Listen to their polished up version of Wet & Dripping off Amor Ad Nausium and check out what Aan had to tell Killing Sasquatch about their LP, touring with Smashing Pumpkins, and more.

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RED FANG DESTROYS \m/ Period.

Pond

Today sees the release of a lot of good records, none more prominent than Pond’s second album Hobo Rocket. The “side project” of Tame Impala, this Australian band has so many groovy tunes packed onto one tiny album. Hobo Rocket has such a great classic rock and roll sound, yet they have really original ways of presenting that classic sound. Pond is able to mix and blend all types of psychedelic music in the last 50 years and put into a poppy, highly listenable modern type of sound. This album is one of my favorites so far this year, so listen to “Xanman” and “Giant Tortoise.”

Another new album from a local Portland band, this one is from Summer Cannibals. Their debut album is called No Makeup. Summer Cannibals has a huge punk-pop garage rock sound that translates from their hot live show to the album. Their music has huge crunchy bass lines and great guitar riffs, but the main focus is on the lead female vocals. They are quickly becoming one of my favorite local bands here. Check out “Wear Me Out,” it’s one of my favorites.

Blue Cranes + Sun Angle

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Available for pre-order now is the latest adventure of Portland explorers Blue Cranes. Before you even read, just have a listen.

What you’re hearing is what some bloggers might call post-jazz. The minimal and progressive song structures are reminiscent of post-rock groups like Explosions or Godspeed, But what Blue Cranes puts forth is a bold mixture of abstract heavy metal, classically inspired orchestral movements, and jazz improvisation. Where many groups struggle to incorporate such diverse elements, Blue Cranes builds a brilliant synergy. The aptly named “Everything is Going to be Okay” is a gorgeously representative piece that begins in a slow slog of gloom, then moves through an extraordinary little epiphany, until it breaks into joyous piano over groovy bass. When the sax solo kicks in, man, I really felt like everything was going to be just fine.

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Sun Angle’s debut album Diamond Junk is not chaotic like the critics say. Fast, yes, but it’s calculated. Messy, they say. I say, enthusiastic. With speed and precision, Sun Angle delivers a potent blast of psychedelic multi-instrumental indie rock. The rough aesthetics do not mask their technical prowess, as shredding solos bleed seamlessly into soaring progressive compositions. The album shines iridescent like a pile of Diamond Junk. A long-time favorite of mine, these fellows are not to be missed in concert, where the spectacular guitar-work and worldly beats move the crowd in all dimensions and raises the roof all the way to the quasars. Things get weird below:

Feels Like Home #52: Sun Angle – “Time Snakes” from INTOTHEWOODS.TV on Vimeo.

Treefort Music Fest 2013 Day 4

The fourth and final day of Treefort Music Fest begins with the fine sultry music of Social Studies. Their track “Terracur” off their 2012 release Developer works extremely well, and when they play it, the crowd pops with the sound of jaws dropping to the pavement. Lead vocalist Natalia Rogovin sways sensually on stage while one guitarist shreds intensely in the sunshine. The music of Social Studies is at once a classic piece of old knowledge and a revelation had for the first time.

Definitely hanging out for Bad Weather California, these guys have a good punk sound and a great sense of humor. They’re all donning stripes except the plaid-clad bassist as they woo this rapidly growing audience with a phatty salad of old garage rock and contemporary indie punk. It’s great live, and it’s great on record, so you should probably check it out.

We end up in the Record Exchange at an in-store Camper Van Beethoven show. Awesome. These guys have the righteous thematic content and DIY punk ethos which was a consequence of California in the early 80’s, and which seems to be alive and well here in Boise today. Their classics like “Take the Skinheads Bowling” and “Northern California Girls” are abstract and anecdotal fantasies best experienced while reading the lyrics from the inside CD cover. The audience remains perfectly still in the darkened shop, filed in between the record racks like bizarre churchgoers at their pews, in awe of the stylistically and technically transcendent stuff of Camper Van Beethoven.

Today is a great day. Youth Lagoon is up at the main stage. It’s especially exciting since this homegrown Boise project envisioned by Trevor Powers has just released their sophomore album, Wondrous Bughouse, a short two weeks before Treefort. What Powers achieves in his second opus is something drawn from other dimensions, the title and album art are perfect appetizers for listeners to get a taste of his neo-psychedelic dream pop sound.

Looking over some candid photos from the following Dan Deacon show at Treefort Main Stage, almost everyone has a bona fide huge smile on their faces, and here’s why: Dan Deacon’s live shows are festivals in themselves, with a focus not only on the music, but the viewer’s collective participation in the completion of the piece. Good humored after a painfully long sound check, he implores the audience to form a circle, and organizes a dance competition which eventually ends up in the whole crowd throwing down their best moves. With a repertoire of classic songs, and stupidly solid new album America, Dan Deacon’s recorded music is an entirely different beast than his interactive performance, a bold move even for the avant-garde towards a new electronic vocal indie rock aesthetic.

A super exclusive group of lucky fans pile into El Korah Shrine to witness Built to Spill play a full set of covers for the last night of Treefort. They bring something for everyone; New Order, The Clash, Captain Beefheart, Bob Dylan, Pavement, Metallica, Dinosaur Jr. and of course Blue Oyster Cult. The crowd is happy just to anticipate which awesome rock classic Doug and the crew will whip out next. The show is a very intimate experience, with the majority of covers being heard by fans for the first time.

As Built To Spill was finishing up, the anticipation of Boise’s favorite punk band TEENS had people lined out front of the Red Room. Though it took a while to set up TEENS, it didn’t take long for the crowd to tear it down as the people rushed onto the stage to rock out with the band. Beer was flying, the crowd was dancing, cables were breaking, and pipes were being busted as the Red Room got sweaty.

Afterward at the Reef, we squeeze into the Brother Ali show to polish off this awesome Treefort Fest. In our humble opinion, the festival might have benefitted from moving such big names as Brother Ali and Sage Francis from the small upstairs bar at the Reef to the main stage, so more folks could see Boise’s scene flex its underground hip hop muscles. But despite beginning to lose his voice Brother Ali totally kills it and we go home the next morning satisfied in ways we never knew we could be so satisfied. We’d like to give a shoutout to Eric Gilbert, all the hardworking organizers, volunteers, bands, techies, bar and event staff, and the good people of Boise who made this the most pleasant music festival it could be.

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Treefort Music Fest 2013 Day 3

Saturday is the pinnacle of Treefort, with the most bands playing on a single day, so reporters Jeff and Keith C split up for the day to bring you some of the most rad shows that went down in Idaho over the weekend.

After catching an early house show with Portland’s Lee Corey Oswald we head out to the main stage for the start of day 3. To our great pleasure, Holiday Friends kicks off such a great day on the main stage with their crispy fresh blend of NW indie pop and rock. These guys embody an awesome contemporary electro and freak-folk infused rock aesthetic, but with a sincere keenness which appeals to all types of listeners. They play their 2011 hit “Astral Observations” which is an epic piece about crises and existence, unsure yet unconcerned. Formed at the University of Idaho, then relocated to Astoria, Holiday Friends are a testament to the quality and strength of Idaho’s grassroots music scene.

Mobbing over to the Crux, we catch Ugly Hussy in the middle of his multi-layered loop and jam routine, standing out from other one-man-and-a-pedal acts with a honed dimly lit post rock inspired sound. Whereas past and present Treefort acts such as Dustin Wong, Tartufi, and El Ten Eleven are creating pop and rock with looping effects, Ugly Hussy produces sludgy soundscapes viewed through a warped and dirty window. Carefree, almost joyous rhythms and rich distorted tones carry his music into the realm of the ethereal.

At Red Room, another monstrous band Ugly Winner represents the bomb 20 Sided Records, which includes such gems as Ash Reiter and Slow Trucks. UW’s material has strong malty Modest Mouse and filbert overtones with a pleasant Fugazi finish. Last year’s album Inside Your Wave contains a focused driving aesthetic which brings out the cosmic punk and indie elements of their awesome tunes.

Back at Crux, Lynne and Ben from Tartufi are playing an acoustic set with a group going by the moniker Houses of Light. This specially effectual four-piece stands tall and shines bright like the beacon on a signal tower, and floods the room with brilliance of the clerestory of a great cathedral. We’ll hook up a link to listen as soon as one becomes available, until then it’s up to you to get on them when they come to your town.

El Ten Eleven is sometimes mistakenly lumped in with other instrumental post-rock bands. These guys crank out more than three times the music with less than half the members of some comparable bands. With roots somewhere between 70’s krautrock and outer space, Kristian Dunn shreds up his vintage doubleneck simultaneously through live looping and delays while Tim Fogarty holds down the electric and acoustic drums and synthesizer. Their entire set is one spectacular wtf-moment, as the main stage crowd revels in the beautifully composed and seemingly impossible progressions of El Ten Eleven. Their 2012 release Transitions is a masterful complement to their existing oeuvre, and solidifies them as a huge force in contemporary experimental rock music.

Jeff quickly headed back over to the Crux to catch the end of Hang Time, a rad power pop-rock band from Salt Lake City. They were busting out some big tunes as the people started to pour into the Crux. It took hardly anytime for SW/MM/NG to set up on stage for their set. With their uptempo drum beats and catchy guitar licks the crowd was starting to dance along to guitar-pop of SW/MM/NG.

The day becomes night, and the night becomes a blur of awesome music. At El Korah Shrine, the much talked about Slam Dunk plays to a critical mass of electrified fans. These Boise guys are full of the essence of power pop and NW post-punk. So much fun live, they’re going on an epic tour this Spring with a handful of shows alongside Built to Spill, so be sure to investigate.

Much love is doled out to Portland favorite The We Shared Milk. Currently on tour with PDX party powerhouse And And And, these guys play a really funky brand of wailing blues rock with cool indie and weird uncanny elements. The quality of the music is high, and the crowd at the Red Room rocks in total submission to the groovy rock and roll of The We Shared Milk.

While TWSM was giving out the good vibes to the Red Room, First Borns started playing to an ever increasing number of post-punks. One of the up and coming local favorites, First Borns put on an excellent show. Full of fuzz and lovely guitar licks to the ears, this is a band that should be on your radar.

After First Borns was Gayze. The Crux was packed tight for this show of local Boise musicians. Three guitars, drums, bass, and keys makes up a huge garage rock sound that was delivered delightfully to the crowd. People were rocking out and the visuals were perfect for this partying band known as Gayze.

Sneaking up front at the at-capacity Neurolux, I chat with a reporter from the cool Seattle based music blog Inside Right Wrist before catching the always stunning Y La Bamba. Lead singer Luz Elena Mendoza switches back and forth between English and Spanish, perfectly complementing the latin inspired instrumentation. Y La Bamba has a wonderful subdued indie sensibility that attracts so many listeners that the entire venue is shoulder to shoulder, with an equally dense queue outside.

The true grandfathers of Boise’s indie rock scene, and one of the heavyweight groups to put post-nirvana NW indie rock on the US map, Built to Spill comes out for their second out of three shows. Last night they played their debut album Ultimate Alternative Wavers from beginning to end, right after legacy indie rockers Quasi here at El Korah Shrine. Tonight they bust out a crowd pleasing medley of greats, including “Carry The Zero,” “The Plan,” “Center of the Universe,” and “Stab.” An anomaly in the world of rock stars, Built to Spill has achieved great national success over the past two decades, yet remains true to their sound, their ethos, and their fans, seemingly impervious to the warping pressures of record labels and entertainment companies. For this, we thank them.

Back at Neurolux charmers Widowspeak plays to a packed audience. Originating in Tacoma Washington, Widowspeak has undergone drastic lineup changes and released two very well received full lengths in just three short years. They have a beautiful misty shoegaze sound, but is definitely something more tangible than the swirling plasma that is the music of My Bloody Valentine.

Now it’s late, we’re sorta drunk, and just want to head over to China Blue Lounge to get down to the Shlohmo live set. On record, Shlohmo unites instrumental hip hop, electro, and dubstep elements into a visionary blend of fresh 100% listenable tunage. His music exists on a separate plateau, towering over the earth below. The crowd moves and grooves entranced by Shlohmo’s signature slow, smooth yet downright filthy experimental music. The only damper was China Blue’s sound guy who felt it necessary to interrupt the set for reasons decidedly less important than the awesome show that was Shlohmo’s live set.

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