Album Reviews (28)

Double Negative — Rap Artist Brzowski Drops Fiery Third Album 'ENMITYVILLE'

"When I was young, the art world was where you went to be a failure, says a mysterious audio sample opening the first track from ENMITYVILLE, a new album by Portland “post-rap” artist BRZOWSKI. “It was a chosen profession. You chose to be a failure.” For a Portland artist that’s been working in a genre as long as many of its most passionate adherents have been alive, this should sound like some next-level irony. But…

This Machine Kills Doubt — An Anderson's Incredible 'Very Machine' is more vital than ever

If you were to peer in on American life from the era of pre- and early-Internet, you’d have no idea what was going on. Back then, men who wanted to make complicated, noisy instrumental music were everywhere. All over the country, basements were deployed for the purposes of improving the sound of noisy, rhythmic instrumental bands, and the friendships of those who played in them. Disaffected young men wanted to little more than to come…

Missed Connection — Leverett Release Final Album 'Wires & Tubes'

For a band on the precipice of breaking up, the amount of trust and respect the four musicians of Portland rock band Leverett demonstrate is palpable. Evolved years ago from a solo project by bandleader Jesse Gertz, the cohort’s first official full-length as a foursome, Wires & Tubes, is both a ravenously complex modern record and a lesson in how to share and delegate responsibilities. A chirpy opener shows the group in full gallop, strutting…

Capture the Sun Traverse the Fantasy on 'Terra Ignota'

All music is a kind of storytelling. But it’s 2017, and you’d be forgiven for being tired of hearing stories. Lately, words can feel totally meaningless and status updates rule the land. For many reasons, the basic act of telling a story can be a hard sell. Attentive audiences are hard to come by. Stories are often deployed to move products. The ubiquity of data and search capabilities make it possible to fact-check every single…

Love is Longevity — Big Blood Pumps Out New Album 'The Daughters Union'

There’s little more tiresome than those who complain that music ain’t what it used to be. Times change and people change — let alone vast, corporate-controlled industries — but the reasons to come together for making art and documenting a life are always within reach. Indifferent to classification and rigorously do-it-yourself, the players in Portland’s folk group Big Blood have been evolving the reasons to make music for more than 10 years (and, considering their…

Kris Rodgers Faces Destiny — 'Losing the Frequency' Demands Return to Album Rock

Known as an eminent pianist and vocalist who can bang out covers of Elton John and Billy Joel, Portland’s Kris Rodgers has seemed to be lurking at the periphery of several Portland music scenes for years. He’s got a CV with time logged in power-pop acts like the Connection and the Kurt Baker Band (among others), and to the naked ear, overwhelming evidence of a youth soaking up decades of rock lore. The 10-song power-player…

Getting Off the Map — The Magical Properties of Jared Fairfield's 'The Protecting Cloak'

Island life is fuckin’ tight. There are no goddamn computers, feral children run naked through the woods, and everyone eats unidentifiable foodstuff from a giant clawfoot tub in an abandoned plot. ‘kay, that’s not totally true, but the difference between life on Portland and its peripheral islands is stark. And as anyone smart enough to know knows, once the shittiness and banality of city life piles up (it does), that once-innocent escape feels like a…

Bully Mammoth Don't Play to the Base With 'Let It Bully'

As adult projects go, Bully Mammoth is as worthy as any. Their new LP, titled Let It Bully, is antisocial, stubbornly repetitive, and lacks immediate payoff. But the same could be said about gardening, studying for the bar, or running a meme farm. And those are great projects too. Now four years down, the Portland noiserock trio still make burly, lumbering, viscerally loud music. On Let It Bully, they’re as huge-sounding as the name suggests,…

Buck This Genre — Tall Horse releases the achingly good 'Howl Mouth'

For a genre obsessed with freedom and the open road, country music can be pretty rigid. There's very little wiggle room among its adherents and players, and beyond the generational trend of deploying watered down hip hop beats beneath country anthems, there’s typically very little opportunity for cross-pollination. So it's refreshing as hell when a band playing in the constraints of country music carves out new ground. Sure, some puritans will hold their nose. But…

A Man and His Logo — Spose drops fifth album 'Good Luck With Your Life'

For the generation in and entering their thirties, self-employment is a dream. Having watched parents toil in cubicles (and factories and restaurants) during the Reagan and Clinton years was hard, not just because we didn’t get to see them, but because we knew they were so unbelievably bored as they were doing it. Today, the memories of that boredom haunt our work lives, which combined with our generation’s other merriments of more debt, more distraction,…
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