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It’s been three years since local singer-songwriter Anna Gilbert was dubbed Eugene Weekly’s Next Big Thing, and she has been busy. Since then, she has released an acoustic-themed holiday release, spent time writing country songs for other artists and now she is back with a new album, The Able Heart, which was released Nov. 5.

Music news & notes from down in the Willamette valley.

As Evan Way, the lead singer and songwriter for the Portland-based rock band the Parson Red Heads, can attest, every experience can be a learning experience.

In the post-Halloween afterglow, there is a very good reason to catch frenetic “soul and roll” band The Pimps of Joytime: Bandmember Mayteana Morales played “Gaby” on PBS’ Ghostwriter. Now one of the Joytime’s lead vocalists, Morales helps create the band’s tight, punchy, soulful sound.

Stalwart Eugene live act Medium Troy has been undergoing some changes. “We used to be a big band, sometimes as many as 11 people on stage,” says JoJo Ferreira. JoJo and his brother, Jesse Ferreira, form the core of the group. “We had tours where half the band would bail and we’d be stuck without a drummer playing four-hour sets at a taco bar in Medford.” 

Just when many proclaim “Last of!” or “Never again!” along comes a chap like Rufus Wainwright, the sort of entertainer some say “they just don’t make anymore.” Sir Elton John, for one, calls him “the greatest songwriter on the planet.” 

Music news & notes from down in the Willamette valley.

Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All — an L.A. hip-hop collective — burst out of nowhere toward the end of the aughts, filled with young, snot-nosed hooligans that acted as fresh tinder to a flickering rap scene. Consisting of mostly teenagers, OFWGKTA’s brightest star happened to be its youngest. Earl Sweatshirt, born Thebe Kgositsile, was barely 16 when he released his self-titled debut mixtape in 2010.

Rubblebucket is a bucket load of fun. Do you like fun? Do you like dancing? Do you like a woman leading six men into the head-bopping, toe-tapping, hip-swiveling, horn-happy fray, fighting off mediocre mainstream pop with trumpets, trombones and saxophones? 

Along with creating lots of work for area dentists, Halloween heralds a couple of happier traditions. Mood Area 52’s annual live, original, tango-tinted score (for electric guitar, cello, accordion, bass, horns, toy piano and plentiful percussion) for F.W. Murnau’s classic vampire flick Nosferatu is always a hoot, and this year, the Oct. 31 show at the Bijou Theater is augmented by the band’s bonus original string band soundtrack to Buster Keaton’s 1921 short film The Boat

Molly Hamilton and her songwriting partner Robert Earl Thomas of Widowspeak spent a lot of time on the road after releasing the critically acclaimed Almanac earlier this year. “We were stuck in a car a lot,” Hamilton says. “I was mostly writing down lyrics and ideas for new things, just to get them out of my system.”

Some folks might expect to find Starfucker under glass in Portland’s electro-pop history museum these days, but the band is still bopping along as though that whole Pyramiddd thing (their old moniker) never happened. Four albums after their eponymous debut’s single, “Rawnald Gregory Erickson the Second,” skyrocketed them to indie stardom.

Hank Williams III — better known as Hank 3 — is a maverick. If you want proof, consider the fact that he just released a double country album (Brothers of the 4x4) and a punk album (A Fiendish Threat), and did so on the same day. But that’s not even a record for him.

Music news & notes from down in the Willamette valley.

Consider for a moment the acoustics of a cave: vast and echoing but also claustrophobic and airless — a small drip of water reverberating to the ceiling and from the walls. Now, consider the acoustics of the band Cave and you have the latter. The Chicago-based, frequently instrumental group is celebrating the release of Threace, out Oct. 15 on uber-hip record label Drag City. 

Composer Steven Mackey was honored by the commission to write a new work for his longtime collaborators, the celebrated Brentano Quartet, but daunted by the subject matter: a quartet that commemorated one of the most tragic days in American history, the assassination of President John Kennedy half a century ago. How could he write music that was true to what happened that terrible day, without reproducing its ugliness and thereby distressing listeners? What could instrumental music add to our understanding of, or feeling about, that dark day in Dallas?

Veteran songwriter Sean Scolnick, aka Langhorne Slim, says people are looking to get messy. “People want to dance,” he says. “People want to be freaks.” The Nashville-based musician feels this goes a long way to explain the recent chart-topping revival of “roots” music like The Avett Brothers and Mumford & Sons. “People want to strip things back,” Slim concludes. 

In between the breakout 2012 album Look Out Mama and an upcoming release, the New Orleans-based Hurray for the Riff Raff took a nice, long pit stop in covers country. My Dearest Darkest Neighbor (2013), a beautiful and mellow collection, hosts songs by a motley crew of musicians: Lead Belly, Joni Mitchell, Billie Holiday and George Harrison to name a few. 

Music news & notes from down in the Willamette valley.

When Chris Henderson, the singer and songwriter for the indie-roots Bronze Radio Return, talks about the band’s most recent album — Up, On & Over — he is practically breathing a sigh of relief. 

“I like to paint a picture of a modern woman who’s sexual and who can do the same things as a man,” Sallie Ford tells me over the phone. Sift through her lyrics, her throaty rock vocals or the imagery in her band’s music videos, and it becomes clear that Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside is not just paying lip service.

Of all the white-hot techno DJs and producers, few are more molten right now than Anton Zaslavski, better known as Zedd. Zedd’s single “Clarity” (featuring London-based female vocalist Foxes) is arguably the “it” single of 2013: a big, weepy ballad mixed with epic, fist-pumping, club-thumping beats. 

Music news & notes from down in the Willamette valley.

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, you have certainly heard the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies’ popular Zoot Suit Riot album enough to have an opinion about the band. But stardom — and the backlash that came with it — was never something they expected to achieve when they formed in the late ’80s.