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Music

Before it was a band, Nerve was a jam session at a little New York bar that quickly grew into a regular dance party at a bigger club and then became a touring band (bass, drums, keyboard, DJ/mix) that blends jazz, electronic music and various experimental strains into a true 21st-century sound.

It’s propelled by Zurich-born one-time jazz “drum god” JoJo Mayer, who in his youth backed legends like Dizzy Gillespie, Nina Simone, Sonny Fortune and Monty Alexander.

Back in 2007, rapper Lil Wayne no-showed for a concert at MacArthur Court on the University of Oregon campus. Katie Matthews, life-long hip hop fan and employee at Skip’s Records & CD World in west Eugene, says she’s “still a little bitter about it.” 

At the time, Wayne was considered the greatest rapper in the game. Fans loved his free-associative and surrealist lyrical style and bad-boy image. Detractors labeled him cartoonish, but many found his madness inspired.

Michelle Zauner, who writes music under the moniker Japanese Breakfast, was born in Seoul, Korea, but grew up right here in Eugene. “I feel like I got my start there,” Zauner tells Eugene Weekly over the phone.

Zauner started writing music at 16 and took guitar lessons at Guitar Center’s Lesson Factory. She played her first shows, in a band called Little Girl Big Spoon, at Cozmic Pizza (now Whirled Pies) open mics, WOW Hall and South Eugene High School (where she attended school).

James Mercer has been listening to David Bowie.

Now based in Portland, Mercer is the primary songwriter and sole remaining original member of The Shins lineup. A quirky, indie-pop guitar act, the Shins were first heard by many on the soundtrack of the 2004 Zach Braff film Garden State

Mountain Moves, the latest album from San Francisco art-rockers Deerhoof, features guest appearances and collaborations from artists like Argentine songwriter Juana Molina, Stereolab vocalist Laetitia Sadier and many more. 

California-born DJ TOKiMONSTA (Jennifer Lee) is a sculptor of space who uses sound as her tool. Between trip-hop, lo-fi beats, classic sampling methods and uniquely mixed collaborations, Lee creates art — immersive, emotive and abstract.

Syrian-American Azniv Korkejian’s self-titled debut, released under the moniker Bedouine, is an effortlessly elegant collection of country-tinged folk-pop recalling midnight-blue classics from Leonard Cohen, Nick Drake or Joni Mitchell.

Chicago is a city of enormity — physically and energetically — and in its emotiveness lies a stoic beauty. From every beat of traffic, somber winter snowfall and thick pavement ripples of a city summer, Chicago-born soul artist Ravyn Lenae translates the heartbeat of the city into song. 

English heavy metal singer Blaze Bayley recalls sitting with his mother and watching early seasons of Star Trek and Doctor Who. Bayley feels this started a lifelong interest in sci-fi stories. “In those days, to see a door slide open by itself was unbelievable,” he says. “Now if you go to the mall and the door doesn’t open by itself, you’re amazed. I’ve got a full-blown computer in my phone. It’s unbelievable!”

A few years ago, Oregon-born pianist Hunter Noack was scheduled to play Arnold Schoenberg’s famous 1899 composition Transfigured Night at London’s Barbican Center. Since the original poem was set in a dark forest, Noack brought in 50 trees, playing the music as audience and actors dramatizing the story wandered through the impromptu indoor arbor.

I was born in 1976. Early memories I retain from around that era include a black van my parents had with actual carpet inside of it, Star Wars action figures,and watching Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom and The Muppet Show.

In the early 1980s, classic New York hardcore band Reagan Youth sang “We are Reagan Youth!” dropping a “sieg heil” for satirical effect. This was in keeping with punk’s rejection of flower-power’s pacifist tendencies in favor of more confrontational approaches.

Often a young musician is shaped by a singular performance that clicks a switch inside her, a switch that says: “I could do that, too.”

For Corin Tucker of Sleater-Kinney, that moment came at the WOW Hall.

Not all orchestra music directors live in the city where they conduct. Most have multiple gigs and spend much of their time on airplanes and in hotel rooms. But newly appointed Eugene Symphony music director Francesco Lecce-Chong decided to move here — during last month’s 107-degree heat wave, no less. 

Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats take life’s lowest days and turn them into old-timey rock tunes catchy enough to make a sourpuss hoop and holler her troubles away (at least until tomorrow’s hangover).

The experimental blues of Hello Dollface puts listeners under a spell. In true witch fashion, Ashley Edwards (front woman and creature of the night) is on a spiritual journey to bring women closer together with the power of song and energy.

I’m eating skewered beef heart with Eugene band Le Rev at a Peruvian restaurant in the Whiteaker neighborhood, and the band is explaining how they started playing music together in a snowstorm. “That’s kind of a beautiful thing,” I say, thinking of the oppressive heat outside and how the next day threatens to be the hottest of the summer. 

Indie singer-songwriter Margaret Glaspy is a collision of contrasts. Her petite frame hosts a diaphragm that belts out sandpaper-rough lyrics while her nimble fingers string along lazy blues chords. Glaspy has pieced together these opposites to create the sound of success, as evident in the wake of her first full-length album, Emotions and Math (June 2016).

Every artist wants to build a brand these days, so it takes some courage to change your name after building up a reputation and a fan base. But that’s what Jasnam Daya Singh — previously Weber Iago, and before that called Weber Drummond — has done.

Rockabilly-Americana band Petunia and the Vipers delivers toe-tapping rhythms with lyrics sure to make your spine shiver like a sharp shot of whiskey. Pull out your flask (liquor optional) and slap on your best pair of Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas shades to properly experience the Vipers’ latest, hauntingly charismatic album, Dead Bird On the Highway (2016).

Our favorite moments from Pickathon 2017.

All photos by Todd Cooper, except “Priests” by Dmitri Von Klein.

Charles Bradley and his Extraordinaires

Priests

 

Veteran heavy metal demi-gods Slayer return to Eugene behind their 12th studio album, 2015’s Repentless. And — besides a long and consistent output of some of the most diabolical and scorching heavy music in the game — what makes Slayer metal demi-gods are some truly metal life experiences. 

Surveying this year’s Whiteaker Block Party music schedule (12 stages!), it’s hard to know where to start. So EW put together its own music itinerary. Call it a tour-guide or a list of must-see acts you don’t want to miss at the year’s biggest — and really only — showcase of local talent. You can’t see it all, but if you see anything, consider these suggestions. The WBP runs noon to 10 pm Saturday, Aug. 5, and revolves around the corner of 3rd and Van Buren in, of course, the Whit. 

Brian Viglioni, drummer with New York four-piece rock band Scarlet Sails, agrees there’s a theatrical edge to his band’s latest release, Future from the Past. Scarlet Sails is fronted by Viglioni’s Russian-American wife, Olya Viglioni, and Brian himself is known for working with well known acts like Dresden Dolls and as a studio musician and touring drummer for Nine Inch Nails and Violent Femmes.