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Music news & notes from down in the Willamette valley.

Love or hate the idea of Emerald Meadows as a thumping festival hotspot pulsing with thousands of gyrating bodies, there is one thing no one can deny: Eugene has never seen a music spectacle like Kaleidoscope Music Festival (Aug. 23-25) before. EW stared down the barrel of that neon prismatic lens and came out the other end. This is what we saw.

Matt Pond’s sound is pure chamber pop: introspective and literate, backed up by lush string arrangements and delivered with classical music formality. Pond (who dropped the PA of his former band Matt Pond PA) toils in semi-obscurity, despite 10 full-length records and an impressive array of EPs. 

The man behind one of the New Wave era’s wormiest ear worms “Cars” could have been content to remain a one-hit wonder. Instead, industrial-synth pop pioneer Gary Numan has maintained a vital artistic output over a career spanning three decades. And this fall the iconic artist will put out Splinter (Songs from a Broken Mind), his first album of all-new material in seven years.

Ra Ra Riot’s 2010 release, The Orchard, begins with a solemn and lush track of the same name that’s heavy on strings and atmosphere supplied in part by now-departed cellist Alexandra Lawn. “Dance With Me” kicks off 2013’s Beta Love very differently.

Music news & notes from down in the Willamette valley.

Eugene, prepare yourself for three days of peace, music and heavy bass. The first-ever Kaleidoscope Music Festival launches Friday, Aug. 23, at Emerald Meadows in the foothills of Mount Pisgah.

Following in the fictional footsteps of indie alias outfits Father John Misty and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, L.A.-based atmospheric folk group Lord Huron uses its music to create a unique storytelling experience that transports listeners on a wandering adventure.

Back in 2011 with the release of its 7” vinyl Myths, the only defining quality that distinguished the Seattle-based Pickwick from the cluttered Pacific Northwest indie folk scene was lead singer Galen Disston’s buttery vocals. “We were conscious of our songs being very derivative, very wannabe,” Disston says. Since then, the sextet started writing songs collaboratively, brought in Americana, blues and soul influences and has successfully stepped out from under the neo-indie umbrella.

L.A.-based art-noise rockers No Age played their first show at an art gallery; they are no strangers to making an art project out of clamorous rock ‘n’ roll. So when asked, the duo took the directive to “make a record” to heart.

Music news & notes from down in the Willamette valley.

Chris Berry loves African music so much that he risked his life to play it. As a teenager in California, the Grammy-winning singer-songwriter studied African drumming with master drummer Titos Sompa, then spent a decade exploring it at the source, especially among Zimbabwe’s Shona people.

You best get on the Wild Child bandwagon now. The song “Pillow Talk” — leading off the 2011 release of the same name — is a bittersweet, ukulele-powered breakup tune. While saccharine, the song is utterly charming with a he-said-she-said storyline.

Matisyahu wanted to do something different with his most recent album, 2012’s Spark Seeker. But when he began the process, he didn’t know “different” would involve starting work on one album, doing some other music for fun on the side and then realizing that the off-the-cuff stuff was what the album should actually sound like.

Music news & notes from down in the Willamette valley.

For certain musicians, the large venue and bustling crowd of commercial concerts can detract from their performance, so some are opting for a cozier space: your living room. Living room concerts are growing in popularity, partially due to their ability to change the dynamic between the artist and the fan. Indie rocker Damien Jurado prefers the couches and carpets of people’s homes to stadium seating.

Edewaard has only been together since last February, but the Eugene-based band is heating up quickly. “A few of us actually quit our jobs to pursue this music career,” says Jered Pound, Edewaard rhythm guitarist and ad hoc manager.

If you have had a chance to check out singer-songwriter Jesca Hoop’s oddly beautiful 2010 release, Hunting My Dress, then you know what a unique talent she is. Hoop’s penchant for creating a wide variety of moods, sounds and storylines while keeping the music cohesive is an unusual feat of songwriting.

Music news & notes from down in the Willamette valley

Fruit Bats have been producing music for over a decade and their sound recalls the falsetto vocals of Neil Young mixed with the subtle rock of alternative country. Their last release, 2011’s Tripper, was replete with thumping acoustic jams and would play perfectly alongside The Shins or Dr. Dog.

Beth Wood is a local singer-songwriter by way of Texas, and her brand of Americana, country and folk music has been getting people’s attention across the nation for nearly two decades. She has released eight albums, appeared on OPB’s Art Beat, received rave reviews from the likes of the Washington Post and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, won the 2006 Sisters Folk Festival Dave Carter Memorial Songwriting Contest and been a finalist in the Telluride Troubadour Contest.

Ya got trouble, my friend, right here, 

I say, trouble right here in River City.

That couplet from Meredith Willson’s classic 1957 musical The Music Man could apply to just about any city on any river, any time and any place. 

Nobody’s quite like Lyle Lovett. The Muppet-faced singer-songwriter plays, for lack of a better term, country music. But it’s a country must for A Prairie Home Companion fans, for Texans who vote Democrat and insist Austin is just different.

Music news & notes from down in the Willamette valley.