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Music

Whitey Morgan is no stranger. He’s played Eugene countless times. But no matter how well we think we know the man, he keeps coming up with new surprises. In late 2014 he released two records side by side, each of which offers its own clear window into Whitey’s soul.

Seattle musician Whitney Monge calls her sound “alternative soul,” but don’t expect Aretha Franklin or Al Green — not quite, anyway.

Electronic dance music is hotter than ever, nowhere more so than in Eugene. “Eugene has been an incredibly supportive place for our band to really thrive and to develop our own unique sound,” says Nathan Asman, who alongside guitarist Keith Randel and drummer Travis Lien makes up the Eugene-based livetronica act Hamilton Beach

Doesn’t that name sound familiar? This Patch of Sky got its name from a Lord Leebrick Theatre sign in 2010. Since then, the six-member band has carved a neat place for itself in the haunting, wordless world of symphonic post-rock.

Originally out of Austin, Texas, the now The Dalles-based musician Ben Ballinger says if he had to pick another artist’s song to introduce himself it would be Frank Sinatra’s “My Way.” The song’s words and melancholy tone, alongside a fierce determination, resonate with him, he says.

Don’t hate Alexander Cardinale because he has it dialed in. The songwriter, who also sometimes goes by Xander, is coming off a tour with Melissa Etheridge. Cardinale says the exposure afforded him by touring with an established artist like Etheridge was intoxicating. “It’s a performers dream to get to take over a huge stage and have use of full expression,” Cardinale tells EW.

Coty Hogue grew up in a small Montana town of about 850 people with a music-loving family, but the notion of making a living performing for an audience wasn’t part of that experience. 

San Diego punk band Drug Control evokes the glory days of So Cal bands like Black Flag and Circle Jerks. “We take influences from older East and West coast bands and blend them into our style,” says vocalist Danny Lyerla. 

You know how your head always starts bobbing and your toes start tapping whenever you hear that certain song? Maybe it’s a Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis or Chuck Berry tune. Whatever it is, it makes you want to move. Daddy Rabbit falls into this category. 

In 1929, surrealist painter René Magritte scrawled under his painting of a pipe, “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” (“This is not a pipe”), in his famously enigmatic painting The Treachery of Images. For Tree Branch Twig, a side project from Lindsey Keast of popular Eugene-based experimental group Lady Paw, there is a similar cognitive dissonance.

The concept behind 2013’s The Clear Blue Pearl from Portland band Morning Ritual sounds more like a sci-fi-fantasy movie than a pop record, complete with a devastating drought, an epic journey and a mysterious “blue pearl.” 

There are a lot of captivating things about Kathryn Claire. She’s a classically trained violinist (picking it up at age 7), a self-taught guitarist, and she teaches songwriting to kids. But most captivating and surprising is when she opens her mouth to share her deep, emotive voice. 

New Year’s Eve has always been my least favorite holiday, with the commercially contrived Valentine’s Day a close second. Instead of celebrating gratitude or sacrifice or renewal or even zombies, it’s become pretty much an excuse to go out and get hammered and maybe ruin someone else’s life by driving intoxicated for a nightcap.

Gypsy acts are known for their rowdiness; their raw, cigarette-smoky, patched-clothing, dented-brass impurities. Above all, gypsy acts are known for their stage presence. Seattle-born folker Jason Webley is no different.

Band names don’t usually refer to the art of songwriting itself, but that’s exactly what Hook & Anchor does. “It kind of refers to the things a good song needs,” says Kati Claborn, singer and guitarist for the band (she also plays banjo and uke).

KMRIA stands for: Kiss My Royal Irish Ass,” says Casey Neill of Portland-based Pogues tribute band KMRIA. “The reference is from James Joyce’s Ulysses,” Neill says, explaining KMRIA is also referenced in Pogues’ song “Transmetropolitan.” 

Though Wikipedia deems Portland-based acoustic five-piece Horse Feathers “indie folk,” frontman Justin Ringle is less sure. “I don’t even look at it as folk or neo-folk, necessarily,” Ringle tells EW

SHOW CANCELED. What would legendary Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr now in his fifties — say to his 19-year-old self, just about to embark on a career that would lead him to become one of the most widely acclaimed and respected rock musicians of his generation? 

Seattle in the ’90s was the kingdom of super fuzz and big muff, as greasy-haired white boys in skinny jeans crunched out Neanderthalic riffs like The Kinks on horse ludes. And through all that nevermind noise, this beardy old dude with a froggy voice and clangy guitar continued to ply his strange old-timey stylings, laying down this wonky-doodle groove that was like a surreal vaudeville patter horned through the swordfish trombone.

Much has changed since we last caught up with Portland darling Sallie Ford a year ago. Most notably, she’s no longer with The Sound Outside, her all-dude backing band (they broke up amicably). Ford simplified her band moniker to just Sallie Ford and pulled in a team of PNW musicians — Cristina Cano on drums, Anita Lee Elliott on bass and Amanda Spring on drums.

’Tis the season and all, but before we get to the holiday shows, let’s note the secular sounds.

Metallica, Slayer, Iron Maiden, Motorhead. Amidst the club of hardcore metal band names, Asking Alexandria doesn’t seem to fit. But don’t let their name fool you. Listen to “Don’t Pray For Me,” the first song on their latest album From Death to Destiny, and it’s clear the British band is a force of its own.

Canadian electronica producer Ryan Hemsworth describes his most recent single, “Snow in Newark,” as something he made to “get back to my first love, emo music.” This may come as a shocking change of pace to those accustomed to hearing Hemsworth either throw down thick, hawkish hip-hop remixes or candy-coated, J-poppy originals. 

“We have some great friends from Eugene,” says Sam Owens of Brooklyn-based indie-rock trio Celestial Shore. “All of them are wonderful people and talented musicians. There must be something in the water.”