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I’d love to have been a fly on the wall when the collaboration between perpetually cool David Byrne and doe-eyed avant-pop upstart St. Vincent was hatched.

EW is happy to announce the Next Big Thing semi-finalists (in no particular order): Caroline Bauer, Michael Conley, Robert Meade, Sol Seed, The Crescendo Show, Those Willows, Speaker Wave, Elena Leona, Paris Green, Dubious, Tita Luisa, Edewaard, Scott Austin, The Great Hiatum, Steel Wool and Barefoot Leroy. See these talented warblers duke it out next at the Lane County Fair (July 24-28).

Music news & notes from down in the Willamette valley

Matt Bishop, the lead singer of Hey Marseilles, likes to keep things free-flowing. Nowhere is this more evident than in the content found on the band’s latest release, Lines We Trace, which expands on the folk and orchestral elements found on their debut album, To Travels & Trunks, and incorporates heavy doses of dreamy pop-rock aesthetics a la Death Cab for Cutie. 

It’s easy to overlook some of the hidden — and often less expensive — gems amid the many choral and orchestral treasures the Oregon Bach Festival offers each summer. Maybe the best deal of OBF is this weekend’s Composers Symposium “Living Music” concerts at Beall Concert Hall, where on July 5 (for $10 or less), you can hear some of the late 20th century’s most compelling chamber music by the great composers Toru Takemitsu, Morton Feldman and John Cage, performed by Beta Collide, directed by one of today’s finest flutists, Molly Barth, and trumpeter Brian McWhorter.

Whether you revere the red, white and blue, or just love a day off to drink a beer and eat a hot dog (real or tofu) — July 4 is a time to celebrate independence. And this year Eugene-based troublemakers PORK Magazine are putting the indie back in Independence Day with an all-day lineup of rock ‘n’ roll bands in The Whit.

Imagine what a band called Diarrhea Planet sounds like. If you’re guessing juvenile pop-punk — an auditory equivalent of a Seth Rogen movie — you’re pretty spot-on.

Music news and notes from down in the Willamette valley.

For a band that makes some pretty weighty material, Aubrey Zoli and Matt Hart — the two lead parts of the Americana rock band The Local Strangers — sure do have a good sense of humor.

Franco-American Madeleine Peyroux’s background is worthy of Edith Piaf: Raised in the arts by bohemian parents, Peyroux spent time in Southern California, Brooklyn and Paris. She toured Europe at the tender age of 15; inspired by street musicians in Paris’ Latin Quarter, Peyroux passed a hat through the crowd for spare change.

Is there a reward to punching a clock beyond the paycheck? Or is your workweek a sad loss of time that could be better spent? This is what Michael Roderick, the bearded (and sometimes pig-tailed) front man of Mood Area 52, seeks to explore on the seventh album of their dynamic and genre-busting music, Company Town.

Carrie Rodriguez is a raven-haired wildflower, an alt-country songstress too feisty for Nashville and too down-home for rock ‘n’ roll. Initially hyped as a virtuosic fiddle player, Rodriguez is a hardworking, constantly touring roots songwriter — exemplifying her hometown (Austin, Texas)’s reverence for traditional music while flipping it the bird at the same time. 

Eugene’s biggest annual musical happening, the Oregon Bach Festival, begins its 44th season, and founding artistic director Helmuth Rilling’s last, Friday night with one of the monuments of choral orchestral music — but one relatively rarely encountered in live performance.

Music news & notes from down in the Willamette valley

Jah Sun is well aware of the deep history of reggae music and how much it has influenced other styles of music. His latest release, Rise As One, acknowledges this trailblazing art form, particularly on the track “Mad Up Di Place.” 

Come June 21, as you walk down Broadway, you’ll be wondering, what’s that sound? Down the stone steps of The Shedd, the summer wind will carry the all-women vocals of SheSings 2013 — the Women’s A Capella Festival, with concerts, workshops and a whole lotta musicians.

Fresh off a Bandest of the Bands win at WOW Hall earlier this year, local folk-rock outfit Small Joys is starting to pick up steam. What began as a conservative duet, composed of songwriter Olivia Awbrey and lead guitarist Dan Klee, has now blossomed into a harmonious four-to-six-piece romp.

The Soulstice is a celebration of summer and community with a variety of music that reflects Eugene’s diverse tastes like a summer pool. On Friday, the night of the summer solstice, Damian Marley and Stephen Marley bring their ganja-laced rhythms and rhymes to the stage. On Saturday, June 22, Beats Antique and Shpongle provide the psychedelic, tribal sounds of the bass music movement.

Amy LaVere has the kind of voice that you can’t help but notice and pay attention to. It’s not that it’s a perfectly polished gem of a voice, but rather that its flaws and nuances make you wonder just what it is that she’s really thinking.

Music news & notes from down in the Willamette valley.

Local jam band Blue Lotus is about to release their third album, A Thousand Other Things — their concert at WOW Hall on June 15 will be a CD release party — and singer-rhythm guitarist Brandelyn Rose says the band will be giving listeners something a bit different this time.

Fox & Woman formed at street poetry gatherings in San Francisco’s Mission District. Their 2013 release, This Side Dawn, is gentle; lilting violin and tight female harmonies from Jess Silva and Emily Halton — who occasionally sing in Portuguese — mix with intricate and delicate guitar playing.

I’m pretty sure truck-stop rocker James McMurtry was laughing into his dinner as he sat at Poppi’s Anatolia last time he came to Eugene. He was chilling out alone before his WOW Hall show, sitting one table over from me, and couldn’t help but to hear my friend Becky bitching me out for not putting hay bales around the bottom of my Airstream trailer in a sort of redneck insulation to keep it warm in the winter.

Corsets and top hats, handlebar moustaches and suspenders, petticoats and purple hair: enter the world of Portland’s neo-vaudevillian Vagabond Opera.