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Music News & notes from down in the Willamette valley

After breaking into the modern rock and alternative worlds in 2011 with hit singles like “Cough Syrup” and “My Body” from its self-titled debut record, Young the Giant needed to decompress before starting work on its 2014 release Mind Over Matter.

Don’t be surprised if Future Islands comes snapping out of 5th Alley like a gang of dancing street toughs from 1955. The North Carolina-founded, Baltimore-based synth-pop trio has grooves to spare, and lead vocalist Samuel T. Herring has some dance moves that will make you feel inadequate.

“Like a Stranger,” track one off L.A. band Kitten’s 2013 release of the same name, is romantic ’80s dance-pop to the max — all smoke machines, teased bangs and the distinctive electric-boogaloo beat of the era; think Madonna’s “Lucky Star” meets Pet Shop Boys remixed by early hip-hop pioneer Grandmaster Flash.

Music news & notes from down in the Willamette valley

“We might play a piece 30, 40, 50 — sometimes 100 times,” eighth blackbird flutist Tim Munro told me a few years ago. That dedication to rehearsal allows the Grammy-winning, Chicago-based new music sextet to memorize its pieces, which “enables us to have interactions within the group that I never thought were possible in chamber music,” the Australian Munro said, to focus not just on getting the notes but on communicating the music to the audience.

These days, we’ve traded fliers for Facebook and ’zines for blogs, but the amalgamated forces of bullshit that spawned early-’80s American hardcore remain essentially unchanged: consumerism, alienation, angst. For the past 35 years, pioneering punk band D.O.A. has confronted these forces with a steady stream of conscientious hardcore.

If I wrote a book about a dark and moody country-rock musician, I might name the main character Lydia Loveless. The real Loveless assures me it’s her real name while calling from her tour bus somewhere in the Midwest.

As MF Doom once said, rap these days is like a pain up in the neck. Seriously, the ratio of intelligent lyricists to not-exactly-lyricists-at-all leans heavily toward the latter in this time of ours.

Ryan Lella of Portland’s A Happy Death loves vintage garage rock like The Beau Brummels, The Sonics and The 13th Floor Elevators. The songwriter is also into stuff by Thee Oh Sees and Ty Segall — contemporary artists leading the Bay Area’s recent garage and psychedelic rock revival: a movement that seems to be catching on up in Portland as well.

The singing voice that comes out of Eugene musician Corwin Bolt is disarming: There are elements of Bob Dylan there, in the nasally delivery that registers passion in flat insistences and breathy hidey-holes; some Woody Guthrie, like a spike driven into a rail tie, hard-hewn and proud; a little Steve Earle, John Prine, Townes Van Zandt and not a small bit of the late Vic Chesnutt, a beautiful croak quenched by kerosene and gargled through the gravel of hard times.

Pushing yourself to do new things, creatively, can be challenging, but as Esme Patterson — one of the vocalists in the Baroque indie folk-pop group Paper Bird — can attest, such growth and change are necessary. The band’s fourth album, 2013’s Rooms, is proof.

Eugene Symphony brings a trio of top singers to join its chorus for the Thursday, March 20, performance of Haydn’s great oratorio, The Creation, at the Hult. After one of the most famous opening scenes in music — nothing less than what we’d now call the Big Bang — the great classical composer doesn’t need no stinkin’ sets or theatrical props, using only his most colorful music to paint scenic portraits of the events and even animals described in the Christian creation myth. 

Linda Perhacs has always loved quiet. “I was taking long solitary walks as early as I can remember. I have a deep, strong love for raw, wild nature,” she tells EW over the phone from her Topanga Canyon home. “You could hardly get me in the house. I knew very early on that I would not be in the kitchen.”

Papadosio is a prog-rock band at its core, but take a closer look; it is so much more than that. The Athens, Ohio-founded quintet could quite easily have tailored its sound for ignorant audiences, but if you want your music to say something, actually spread a message, you gotta go big.

Hazy, fuzzy and totally spaced out, the Ghost Ease is a relatively new Portland trio whose sound meshes the jazzy punk of early Sonic Youth with the more ethereal explorations of Cat Power, all run through the crackle and pop of amps knobbed to seismic volumes.

“I get asked that all the time,” says Jelly Bread vocalist and guitarist Dave Berry about the band’s sound, adding that “moonshine funk and soul” is the usual fallback. “We cover a lot of ground,” Berry says.

More than half a century before Sergio Leone, Ennio Morricone, Clint Eastwood et al brought us an Italian view of the American West’s good/bad old days, New York’s Metropolitan Opera asked famed Italian composer Giacomo Puccini to make a new opera from a play of the Gold Rush days. The March 14 and 16 performances of that pioneer-period drama The Girl of the Golden West are a pioneering step for the Eugene Opera, too: Not only is this Hult Center performance the local premiere of Puccini’s favorite among his operas, it also continues the plucky company’s recent willingness to take chances, albeit this time not with contemporary works, alas, but with less familiar fare. 

Yes folks, the father of Auto-Tune is coming to town. If you haven’t heard T-Pain before, there are four basic things you need to know: 1. He loves shawtys; 2. He actually has a good voice but uses Auto-Tune because he thinks it’s cooler; 3. He will buy you a drank if you are a shawty and/or know how to “talk money”; 4. He may or may not be in love with a stripper right now.

When the Eugene Tool show was announced a few months ago, you could hear our city’s most pierced and tattooed collectively gasp. The L.A.-based hard rock band has been at it since MTV played videos, building a rabid fan base that rivals the Vatican’s with albums Ænima and Lateralus and controversial songs like “Prison Sex” and “Stinkfist.”

Australian electronic musician Anna Lunoe grew up discovering music the old-fashioned way: digging through crates of vinyl records at her local record store. “I was trying to find stuff my brothers didn’t know so I could one-up them,” Lunoe jokes on her website. 

More than 50 percent of Lane County residents have some Celtic heritage. At least that’s what Eugene Irish Cultural Festival organizer Peggy Hinsman has found in her research. So put down that James Joyce novel and head out to the 11th Annual Eugene Irish Cultural Festival Saturday, March 8, at Sheldon High School, with an opening concert Friday, March 7, at Beall Concert Hall featuring traditional Irish music.

Music news & notes from down in the Willamette valley.

Songwriter Ari Shine met his wife, Adrienne Pierce, in L.A.; the two immediately connected over shared interests like Canadian folk-rock band The Grapes of Wrath. Eventually Shine and Pierce struck out on their own, forming The Royal Oui.