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Music

September 11, 2014

Brian McWhorter is by any measure one of Eugene’s most creative artists. Before returning to town to take a faculty position at the University of Oregon, where he earned his bachelor’s degree, the trumpeter/composer/improviser earned acclaim as a member of New York’s Meridian Arts Ensemble, making guest appearances with orchestras and ensembles around the country. 

September 11, 2014

Featuring members of the popular, now-defunct Portland group Dirty Martini, Swan Sovereign plays taut, guitar-based indie pop, mixing ’60s girl-group harmonies with the sound of ’90s-era rock bands like Throwing Muses, Belly and The Breeders. 

September 4, 2014

I dare you to not bang your head to the opening strains (after the moaning stops) of White Zombie’s 1995 hit “More Human Than Human.” And yet, despite the fact that Rob Zombie crafts killer songs, at some point we’ll have to stop referring to him as a musician. In 2014, his acting, directing and filmmaking credits eclipse his musical offerings. 

September 4, 2014

Mark your calendars twice, because sister pubs Sam Bond’s and Axe and Fiddle have booked two rising Americana powerhouses this week — Zoe Muth & The Lost High Rollers and Nora Jane Struthers & The Party Line, respectively. The two have much in common: guitar-strumming, soulfully voiced and glossy-blond-locked women front both bands, both are touring with recent albums and both leads have been shaped by the music their pops played growing up.

September 4, 2014

If Eminem is the Elvis of hip hop — taking sounds of urban America and repacking them for the suburbs — Sean Daley (aka Slug) of Minneapolis indie-rap legend Atmosphere is Eminem in reverse: taking the subjects of suburban life and repacking them for the inner city. 

August 28, 2014

There’s a luring, mid-20th-century California cool to Natalie Gordon’s voice that sounds like it should be tumbling out of a poolside record player — part-Rosemary Clooney and part-Nancy Sinatra with the contemporary lilt of Shirley Manson and Amanda Palmer. 

August 28, 2014

Clean-shaven with slicked-back hair and sporting a perfecto leather jacket,  rising hip-hop star G-Eazy could easily be mistaken for a cologne model. With his retro greaser look, G-Eazy (né Gerald Earl Gillum) has cultivated a unique style for his chosen genre, earning him the title of “the James Dean of hip hop.” Caught between flattered and exasperated by this categorization, G-Eazy is trying to stake his own ground. 

August 28, 2014

Bellingham’s Polecat plays up-tempo, largely instrumental Americana-roots-bluegrass-folk-reggae — forget it, let’s just say Polecat plays dance music and they play it well. “We are trying to move away from any sort of real specific designation for our sound,” vocalist and guitarist Jeremy Elliott tells EW

August 20, 2014

With its Harvest Records 2014 debut Badillac, popular SoCal pop-punk act together PANGEA take a huge sonic leap forward, beyond simple-minded garage-punk into more depth and sincerity. “It might be confusing for people, assuming we’re like this garage-punk band and then hearing this record,” says together PANGEA singer-songwriter and guitarist William Keegan on the band’s website. “But we really don’t want to get trapped at all.”

August 20, 2014

“We love playing house concerts because it’s always a listening audience,” says Jeff Poynter, vocalist and accordion player for Victoria, B.C.-based indie-folk outfit West My Friend. “We’re not really a bar band, and so we like audiences that show up to hear music. It’s great as well because you can really connect with the audience — talk to them throughout the show, hang out with them afterwards and learn a little about them.” 

August 13, 2014

He luvs this shit: New Orleans hip-hop crooner August Alsina is bringing the “Testimony Live” tour to the WOW Hall Aug. 15. The year 2014 has been big for Alsina; in addition to releasing his debut album Testimony in April, he won BET’s Best New Artist award and the Viewer’s Choice Award for the single “I Luv This Shit,” and was placed on the roster for hip-hop magazine XXL’s Top 10 Freshmen list alongside Chance The Rapper and Ty Dolla $ign. Want to schmooze with Alsina?

August 13, 2014

“This sounds really young, it sounds like early Helio Sequence,” says Brandon Summers, the band’s singer and guitarist, of the new record. “To me, it feels like a 90-degree sunny day in Portland.”

The Portland-based alt-rock duo is back on stage for a West Coast summer tour, during which the band is unveiling tracks from the new album, due out in early 2015. EW caught up with Helio Sequence two days after they finished recording. 

August 13, 2014

In 2009, Shelby Earl quit her job on Amazon’s music team to record her first album. The Seattle singer-songwriter was excited; after three years of promoting other musicians at the internet giant, she was going to be the one promoted — hopefully. 

“Then six months in it got really scary. It got really real and the money ran out,” Earl tells EW. “I told my mom I was freaking out.” 

August 13, 2014

New Orleans can justly claim to be one of the birthplaces of American music, with its legendary gumbo of Caribbean, African and European music influences providing the essential ingredients for the rhythms that spread from the Gulf of Mexico and conquered the music world. 

August 13, 2014

I was pulling the Sam Spade act (à la The Maltese Falcon) last week, hovering over a slider and fries at the bowling alley up Hwy. 99 and watching some good-looking kids roll the rock. The place was damn near empty; just me, the kids and the gal at the counter spraying high-grade disinfectant into the guts of the smooth communal shoes. 

August 6, 2014

#winning: Eugene Weekly’s sixth annual Next Big Thing music competition came to a close Friday, Aug. 1, at Cozmic with winners in three categories: funk crew Soul Vibrator took home the prize for Best Band, acoustic fingerstyle guitar virtuouso Will Brown nabbed the top spot in the Single/Duo category and Bailee Jordyn sang her self into first place in the Youth slot. Congratulations! Soul Vibrator went on to tear up the Cornerstone Stage Aug. 2 at the Whiteaker Block Party, drawing the praise of 2013 NBT winners Sol Seed.

August 6, 2014

Bruno Mars knows exactly what he is doing, and he does it better than just about anyone in the business. Not only has he released two chart-topping albums — 2010’s Doo-Wops & Hooligans and 2012’s Unorthodox Jukebox — sold over 100 million copies of his singles and albums and won multiple Grammys, but he’d made a name for himself prior to all of this as a songwriter and producer. B.o.B.’s “Nothin’ On You,” for example? Co-written by Mars. Cee-Lo Green’s “F*** You”? Ditto.

August 6, 2014

Type “Soulja Boy” into YouTube, click the video for “Crank Dat” (with more than 158 million views, mind you) and dance along as you listen to the hip-hop song that took 2007 by storm.

DeAndre “Soulja Boy” Way always knew he was going to be “the next big thing” in the rap game — and even said as much on the Wikipedia page that he created for himself when he was 15. He worked at Burger King in high school, but before he was 20 “Crank That” helped him earn a major record deal and a Grammy nomination. 

But it doesn’t stop at the crank.

August 6, 2014

Tone, taste and tenacity remain ZZ Top’s motto and rationale for their lasting popularity, lead guitarist Billy Gibbons tells EW

“If you recognize it as ZZ Top then we’ve had a successful expedient in sonic branding. Taste is the stuff we play, how we play it, but, more importantly, the stuff we don’t play. Tenacity of course is stick-to-it-iveness and we have been pretty good at sticking around,” Gibbons says via email.  

August 6, 2014

In 2014, what does punk rock mean? “Playing as fast as you can? Playing three chords?” poses Atom Willard, drummer for Against Me! “Spiking your hair? Punk rock is doing what isn’t generally smiled upon by the masses,” Willard says. “Doing something you believe in and isn’t easy to do — basically going against the grain.” Willard says the gender transition of Against Me! vocalist Laura Jane Grace (born Thomas James Gabel) is one of the most punk rock things he’s ever witnessed. 

July 30, 2014

There’s something about Warpaint’s double music video for “Disco//Very” and “Keep it Healthy” that rings of the 1996 alt-witch flick The Craft. Perhaps it’s four badasses walking towards the camera, or Theresa Wayman’s and Emily Kokal’s ode to ’90s fashion wearing a plaid mini skirt over jeans and a Chicago Bulls T-shirt respectively.

July 30, 2014

Miranda Lambert is one of country music’s top female artists, but she has a gutsy-ness and grittiness that many women in country lack. She’s got sass and strength as well as suffering and insecurities, and isn’t afraid to reveal any of it in her lyrics. Lambert, who is performing at Sweet Home’s Oregon Jamboree, just released her fifth album, Platinum. She also just turned 30, and along with that milestone came self-scrutiny and pangs of aging.

July 30, 2014

A major attraction of the Oregon Festival of American Music’s two-year exploration of the so-called American songbook in Hollywood is rediscovering the original incarnations of stories most of us remember only from the later movies they inspired. The 1949 Jule Styne-Leo Robin musical, based on Anita Loos’ theatrical adaptation of her Jazz-Age comic novel Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (running Aug. 1-10), is perhaps best known from the 1953 film, which helped make stars out of pneumatic gal-pal leads Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell.

July 30, 2014

Tuscon, Arizona, duo Sweet Ghosts took their name from a poem by Jack Gilbert: “Again and again we put our sweet ghosts on small paper boats and sailed them back into their death …” And listening to Sweet Ghosts’ latest release Certain Truths, it is easy to imagine “sweet ghosts on small paper boats.” The album is melancholy and acoustic with the pitch and drift of a boat on water.