Album Reviews (32)

Setting the bar low (and leaping) — TheWorst drops trashy, exhilarating 'Jane Doe Embryo'

It’s no slight to the three musicians of Portland rock band TheWorst, each totally capable and believably spirited with decades-long CVs making independent music, but we live in an era where stripped-down, mid-tempo fuzzed-out grungepunk holds very little purchase. (The name they’ve chosen suggests they understand this.) In 2017, it's a musical style as poached-in-history as Sinatra standards were when these musicians were young. Honestly, this makes their debut even more interesting. Whatever kind of…

Falls of Rauros reach peak bleakness with 'Vigilance Perennial' — Make rare appearance at weekend's Into the Aether Festival of Sound

Vigilance Perennial, the new album by maine band Falls of Rauros, first saw daylight this spring. but as dusk creeps into our days and the wind recovers its fangs, it's hard not to remember them as an autumn band. The folk/black metal act’s fourth full-length may be more brilliant, melodic and accessible than anything they've done in their 12-year history, but music like this finds significance in darkening, decaying days, especially when its done this…

Five of the Eyes drop sprawling first album 'The Venus Transit'

If I had a criticism prepared for The Venus Transit, the first full-length by Five of the Eyes, it would have been that the band registered too studiously as disciples of The Mars Volta, that cultish, amazing, inscrutable El Paso band. Based on a couple years-old live shows and scattered tracks online, I expected a total sonic fealty to the aughties post-punk prog group, maybe with a little At the Drive-In sprinkled in. But that…

Never gone — The unremitting spirit of Forget, Forget

One of my favorite lines on You’re Not Gone, the second album from Portland-based duo Forget, Forget, arrives midway through “Seashells,” track five. It’s when Patia Maule sings "let’s get takeout and go see a show.” Kind of a throwaway line, and an odd one to find refreshing or unique. But it’s unlike almost every other lyric on the album in that it’s absent some intention to move, to inspire, or to connect. The etymology of the…

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 rock fans 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…
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