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October 19, 2017

Iron & Wine singer-songwriter Sam Beam is a breeze throughout the seasons. For more than a decade, his sound has wistfully danced through somber winters to the thawing afternoons of spring — at the core of his sound’s evolution lies the wind’s intrinsic trait: persistence.

October 19, 2017

October closes with a plenitude of pianistic delights for classical music fans, beginning with Thursday’s Eugene Symphony concert at the Hult Center featuring the rising young pianist Conrad Tao.

When he appeared at the UO’s Beall Hall in 2011, Tao was a 17-year-old prodigy who could seemingly play masterpieces with one hand tied behind his back. He’ll almost get the chance in Maurice Ravel’s dramatic 1931 piano concerto written for the great Austrian virtuoso Paul Wittgenstein, who’d lost his right arm to a Russian bullet in World War I.

October 19, 2017

Thirty-two years ago next month, The Jesus and Mary Chain, a band created by Scottish songwriting brothers Jim and William Reid, released its debut album Psychocandy.

On one hand, the album did little more than update for the dour, Joy Division generation the psychedelic garage rock of bands like The Troggs or The Seeds. Even the band’s haircuts — dyed-black bangs over eyes, framing permanently frowning mouths — seemed themselves like cartoonish, goth rock updates on Beatle-bangs. 

October 12, 2017

Detroit’s Protomartyr might be America’s greatest rock band. They also might not be. Either way, Protomartyr vocalist Joe Casey says he doesn’t really care.

“When we started this band,” Casey tells me over the phone, “we had no illusions we were going to be in the back of limousines and playing arenas and things like that. The bands that we like were never the most popular things on Earth.” 

October 12, 2017

Maybe Jimmy Buffett is just a guy living his best life. Maybe I’m just jealous. But there’s always been something about his leering, capitalist grin that makes me queasy.

I suppose Buffett has reason to be self-satisfied. He’s built a successful career spanning music, publishing, movies, the restaurant industry and even real estate.

He’s also earned himself a legion of fans known as "Parrotheads": an army of Hawaiian-shirted ugly Americans who vacation in white-washed Sandals Resorts. The kind of people who, while in Paradise, order a cheeseburger.

October 5, 2017

On his 13th birthday in the early 1970s, Scott “Wino” Weinrich, vocalist and songwriter with Maryland hard rock act The Obsessed, saw Black Sabbath perform live.

“That pretty much changed my life,” Weinrich tells me over the phone. “I was completely dumbfounded. They were playing their instruments so hard there was no doubt in my young mind the concert would have to be stopped. I was convinced they were going to destroy their instruments.” 

October 5, 2017

These days, some people complain we’ve become too politically correct, or that we’ve become afraid to say what we really mean. Murray Acton, better known as The Cretin from classic Canadian hardcore punk act Dayglo Abortions, isn’t concerned about that sort of thing.

Formed in 1979 and known for a kind of punked-up, metal-style hardcore cacophony, the Dayglos are touring behind last year’s release Armageddon Survival Guide

October 5, 2017

Carole King vaulted to fame by co-writing a slew of sensational ’60s hits for various bands, most notably the Shirelles’ “Will You Love Me Tomorrow?” She solidified her position as one of the 20th century’s greatest songwriters with a series of 1970s triumphs, beginning with her landmark Tapestry album featuring King’s own voice and piano, which sold more than any single pop album of that time and helped kickstart the singer-songwriter era.

September 28, 2017

The music and aesthetic of London-via-New York musician Gustav Ahr, better known as Lil Peep, is such a Frankenstein’s monster of rap, emo and indie rock that it’s tempting to suspect it came from a coldly calculating music industry boardroom rather than the creative voice of an independent artist. 

September 28, 2017

Margaret Butler, singer with Milwaukee-based electropop act GGOOLLDD, calls her band’s music “dungeon disco glam.” (Pronounced “gold,” the unusual spelling of the band name comes from Butler’s trying to differentiate her band in Google searches. Entering “Gold band” into Google brought up a bunch of wedding rings.)

September 22, 2017

Oodles of music fans around the world recognize the voice of Eugene musician Halie Loren — that smooth, rich, pitch-perfect instrument that’s graced nine album’s worth of pop and jazz. Fewer, it would seem, are aware that Loren is also a crackerjack songwriter, but one listen to “Butterfly” from her most recent album, Butterfly Blue, reveals a sophisticated composer and lyricist who seems poised to soar solely on the strength of her own originals.

September 21, 2017

Before it was a band, Nerve was a jam session at a little New York bar that quickly grew into a regular dance party at a bigger club and then became a touring band (bass, drums, keyboard, DJ/mix) that blends jazz, electronic music and various experimental strains into a true 21st-century sound.

It’s propelled by Zurich-born one-time jazz “drum god” JoJo Mayer, who in his youth backed legends like Dizzy Gillespie, Nina Simone, Sonny Fortune and Monty Alexander.

September 21, 2017

Back in 2007, rapper Lil Wayne no-showed for a concert at MacArthur Court on the University of Oregon campus. Katie Matthews, life-long hip hop fan and employee at Skip’s Records & CD World in west Eugene, says she’s “still a little bitter about it.” 

At the time, Wayne was considered the greatest rapper in the game. Fans loved his free-associative and surrealist lyrical style and bad-boy image. Detractors labeled him cartoonish, but many found his madness inspired.

September 21, 2017

Michelle Zauner, who writes music under the moniker Japanese Breakfast, was born in Seoul, Korea, but grew up right here in Eugene. “I feel like I got my start there,” Zauner tells Eugene Weekly over the phone.

Zauner started writing music at 16 and took guitar lessons at Guitar Center’s Lesson Factory. She played her first shows, in a band called Little Girl Big Spoon, at Cozmic Pizza (now Whirled Pies) open mics, WOW Hall and South Eugene High School (where she attended school).

September 21, 2017

James Mercer has been listening to David Bowie.

Now based in Portland, Mercer is the primary songwriter and sole remaining original member of The Shins lineup. A quirky, indie-pop guitar act, the Shins were first heard by many on the soundtrack of the 2004 Zach Braff film Garden State

In that movie, Natalie Portman coaxes Braff to listen to the now-classic Shins tune “New Slang,” insisting it will change his life. The Shins come back to Eugene behind this year’s Heartworms, a record hailed by many as a return-to-form for the band. 

September 14, 2017

Mountain Moves, the latest album from San Francisco art-rockers Deerhoof, features guest appearances and collaborations from artists like Argentine songwriter Juana Molina, Stereolab vocalist Laetitia Sadier and many more. 

But when Deerhoof hits the road this fall, founding member Greg Saunier tells me, “we’re a Deerhoof cover band.” He’s explaining how Deerhoof strips back Mountain Moves’ particularly complex and nuanced production for a band that got its start playing experimental noise-punk. 

September 14, 2017

California-born DJ TOKiMONSTA (Jennifer Lee) is a sculptor of space who uses sound as her tool. Between trip-hop, lo-fi beats, classic sampling methods and uniquely mixed collaborations, Lee creates art — immersive, emotive and abstract.

Lee has a knack for fusing uncomfortable time signatures into streams of melody that unexpectedly blend better than your mother’s cookie dough. For seven years she has incorporated her past as a classical pianist with her lust to experiment amongst the newest sounds in the West Coast beat scene. 

September 14, 2017

Syrian-American Azniv Korkejian’s self-titled debut, released under the moniker Bedouine, is an effortlessly elegant collection of country-tinged folk-pop recalling midnight-blue classics from Leonard Cohen, Nick Drake or Joni Mitchell.

September 7, 2017

Chicago is a city of enormity — physically and energetically — and in its emotiveness lies a stoic beauty. From every beat of traffic, somber winter snowfall and thick pavement ripples of a city summer, Chicago-born soul artist Ravyn Lenae translates the heartbeat of the city into song. 

September 7, 2017

English heavy metal singer Blaze Bayley recalls sitting with his mother and watching early seasons of Star Trek and Doctor Who. Bayley feels this started a lifelong interest in sci-fi stories. “In those days, to see a door slide open by itself was unbelievable,” he says. “Now if you go to the mall and the door doesn’t open by itself, you’re amazed. I’ve got a full-blown computer in my phone. It’s unbelievable!”

September 7, 2017

A few years ago, Oregon-born pianist Hunter Noack was scheduled to play Arnold Schoenberg’s famous 1899 composition Transfigured Night at London’s Barbican Center. Since the original poem was set in a dark forest, Noack brought in 50 trees, playing the music as audience and actors dramatizing the story wandered through the impromptu indoor arbor.

“People responded to hearing classical music in a different environment,” Noack recalls, “so I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool to use the actual outdoors?’” in a performance.

August 31, 2017

I was born in 1976. Early memories I retain from around that era include a black van my parents had with actual carpet inside of it, Star Wars action figures,and watching Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom and The Muppet Show.

Occasionally The Muppet Show had musical guests like Loretta Lynn, Roger Miller or Johnny Cash — my first introduction to country music, and specifically the country music of the 1970s, a time when cowboys gave up horses and whiskey for long-haul trucks and the white stuff.

August 31, 2017

In the early 1980s, classic New York hardcore band Reagan Youth sang “We are Reagan Youth!” dropping a “sieg heil” for satirical effect. This was in keeping with punk’s rejection of flower-power’s pacifist tendencies in favor of more confrontational approaches.

Reagan Youth made their name co-opting these kinds of controversial KKK and Nazi images, making political, anti-racist and anarcho-punk statements that sadly — nearly 40 years later, with neo-Nazis marching in American streets — feel more relevant than ever. 

August 24, 2017

Often a young musician is shaped by a singular performance that clicks a switch inside her, a switch that says: “I could do that, too.”

For Corin Tucker of Sleater-Kinney, that moment came at the WOW Hall.

“When I was in high school, it was Fugazi and Mecca Normal and Beat Happening,” says Tucker, who grew up in Eugene and now lives in Portland. “That show pretty much changed my life. Seeing those kinds of shows live can bring you into the realm of, ‘I really want to do that.’”