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Music

June 29, 2017

“Everyone I talk to, there’s something different in the air,” says Bri Childs, guitarist with Eugene/Portland instrumental act Childspeak. She’s talking about the energy in Eugene’s indie-rock scene. “Bands are really supporting each other,” she continues. “The music community is growing so fast.”

June 29, 2017

There’s less of the Oregon Bach Festival than there used to be. Some of that amounts to addition by subtraction. Gone are the bloated, historically inauthentic on anachronistic modern instruments and tunings that undermined the full beauty of authentic Baroque music. 

June 29, 2017

Surf-rock band La Luz is a sepia-filtered road trip down Hwy 101 in the dead of summer. The group mashes together doo-wop, angst and dance jams with an added sprinkle of vocals thick as winter fog. From their Seattle roots to a newfound home in Los Angeles, La Luz creates a balanced stew of purely West Coast sounds.

June 22, 2017

Now based in Brooklyn, songwriter Lucy Marie Horton grew up in Vancouver, Washington. She says she didn’t experience catcalling until she moved back East. 

Working with songwriting partner Spencer Eugene Stewart, Horton decided to work these catcalls into her electro-pop band Eugene Marie’s latest single, “Nice Smell.”

June 22, 2017

I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t from time to time like to feel sad — to occasionally pull melancholy over themselves like a warm blanket or, on a warm summer day, bathe in it like a cool, dark room. 

Acclaimed but heretofore pretty esoteric Mid-Western songwriter David Dondero specializes in this kind of feeling, particularly on his latest acoustic, indie-folk release Inside the Cat’s Eye, a collection of songs featuring Dondero’s dark twist on folk, country and hyper-quiet indie rock. 

June 15, 2017

The overture to Gypsy kicks off the show with one of those rousing, familiar tunes that practically bellows “classic American musical.” And a classic this is, the 1959 masterpiece by writer Arthur Laurents, composer Jule Styne, choreographer Jerome Robbins and young lyricist Stephen Sondheim (just off his breakthrough with West Side Story).

June 15, 2017

According to Selena Mooney, aka Missy Suicide, in order to understand the impact of burlesque as an art form — to, as she puts it, “feel the feels” it produces for performers and audience members — you simply have to see a show.

A native Portlander, Mooney founded Suicide Girls as an online community more than 15 years ago to explore beauty in “all shapes and sizes” — the kind of beauty she saw all around her in her everyday life.

June 15, 2017

Ben Falgoust, vocalist with New Orleans-based extreme metal act Goatwhore, recalls when he first heard metal music. “It was like a feeling,” he tells me over the phone. “It was an instant thing. It was like, interest. When you’re young, certain things turn your head. That’s when you start your quest.” 

Falgoust’s quest has led to a career in heavy metal, first with the band Acid Bath and now with dark-metal act Goatwhore.

June 15, 2017

Eugene musician Katelynn Erb wants you to attend the event she’s helped plan, produce and promote. The event is The Joy of Sex: A Celebration of Positive Sexuality & Art, a mix of live music, dance and performance art happening at Hi-Fi Music Hall in downtown Eugene.

Erb wants you to come to the event, but she just can’t tell you much about it.

“We’re trying to keep what’s going on in the main hall sort of a mystery,” Erb teases. “I’m trying to figure out what to say without saying much.”

June 8, 2017

Critically acclaimed songwriter Cory Branan has the stuff of a Nashville country music mega-star: stuff like a twinkle in his eye and a Southern drawl, boyish good looks made rugged by a three-day beard, and a chesty baritone — equally suited for hold-me-close dance numbers as well as arena-ready anthems. 

Nevertheless, Branan says: “My sensibilities don’t go with what country radio is these days. There’s a great tradition of writers that have written for country radio, but everyone was always trying to cross over in country music. Pop was better!”

June 8, 2017

Country folk band Dear Lemon Trees is more than a balanced collage of solo artists gone trio. Their music is a glass of homemade sun tea on a hot Southern porch, a match made in countryside heaven. 

It’s impossible to avoid flashbacks to the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack while soaking up the lush voices of Kathleen Grace, Leslie Stevens and Jamie Drake (and their microphone, named Louise). Each woman rotates between lead singer and supporting vocals and plays acoustic guitar, banjo or tenor guitar. 

June 1, 2017

Beer and classical music enjoy a long and storied relationship, stretching back to those monks who chanted holy praise by night and brewed ales by day, through all those Austrian and German composers who quaffed their way through compositions, performances and post-concert revelry — practices that I understand continue today.

June 1, 2017

Heavily auto-tuned, Houston’s Travis Scott may seem just another robot-voiced rapper stretching his limited vocal range into a kind of soul music for the singularity: a casualty of modern pop existing in a focused grouped box that’s within a box and produced in a factory. 

June 1, 2017

“It sounds like aiming when you’re shooting a basketball. It’s not gonna work,” Zach Lupetin of L.A. roots, soul and Americana act Dustbowl Revival tells me over the phone. I’m talking to him about fighting perfectionism while in the studio. And Lupetin says working with producer Ted Hutt, known for working with Old Crow Medicine Show and Lucero, added a punk-rock mentality to his band’s latest self-titled effort. “He wanted us to just go in there and kick the shit out of a song. He was able to harness that from us.”

May 25, 2017

Veronica Cruz, vocalist and guitarist with Long Beach punk act Rats in the Louvre, says her band takes its name from an article she read about rats plaguing the art museum in Paris. “A lot of tourists were spotting them while eating lunch in the garden,” Cruz explains. “I thought it was funny and ironic. Sort of like low-class culture invading the high class.” 

May 25, 2017

San Francisco’s dark country and blues-rockers Dead Country Gentlemen has played the Eugene area only once before. Guitarist and vocalist Cameron Ray says last time through, his band stayed with some friends around Pleasant Hill. “It was the highlight of my trip,” Ray recalls. “The low-lying fog in the middle of the night when it’s 20 degrees out blew my mind. Also, the silence. Coming from San Francisco, we’re not used to silence.” 

May 18, 2017

The academy and the arts don’t always mix well. Entombing arts in the ivory tower can lead to insularity, esotericism and disregard of popular appeal. But at its best, the academy can enrich the arts with its depth of knowledge, benefiting audiences with previously undiscovered repertoire and styles of interpretation.

Case in point: the University of Oregon’s annual Musicking Conference, which runs May 23-27.

May 18, 2017

Kikagaku Moyo, a Japanese psych-rock band, is returning to Eugene to promote their new release. It’s called Stone Garden EP. It’s out now and it was recorded in Prague. As if this doesn’t sound awesome enough already, a statement from the band says the Stone Garden EP “was influenced by the raw and seemingly endless jams of psychedelic pioneers.

May 18, 2017

Imagine the burgeoning ’90s-era Pacific Northwest indie rock scene as a classroom. Then imagine former Cottage Grove resident Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse as the hyperactive, erratic yet undeniably brilliant kid at the back of that classroom — the kid who, despite expectations, goes ahead and produces an indie rock masterpiece in the form of 1997’s The Lonesome Crowded West

May 18, 2017

Bohemian musician Worth creates a mash-up of sounds akin to a spin-art kid’s toy: a beautiful mess. Within the course of one album, you’re taken on a ride from the bayou to the strip club, from a lover’s arms to church — all with seemingly no rhyme or reason.

The artist, however, creates music to provoke a question as simple as a child’s toy: Where do you find worth?

May 18, 2017

Folk activist-musician Holly Near is a seasoned singer-songwriter whose recipe is impossible to pin down. Her honeylike yet raspy vocals cry out against oppression, while her tender demeanor draws in crowds who crave a church geared towards a soul, not a deity. After 45 years of performing her highly politicized songs, Near has found herself — on stages, in her audience, and in her own personal struggles with and against waves of oppression.

May 18, 2017

As the standard thunk-ditty of old-time slouches toward relative obscurity in this year of our Lord 2017, solace is sought via groove over hymnal, salty ocean over fiery lake, windswept desert over Paradise garden.

God made the Earth in seven days. Bart Budwig made his newest record in 14 hours.

This is not to imply that the Idaho raised alt-country singer likes to rush things — au contraire, he is a deft and purposeful songwriter, audio engineer and multi-instrumentalist — but rather that his contribution to American music is one of holistic efficiency.

May 11, 2017

In 18th-century poet William Blake’s invented mythology, the character Urizen embodies conventional reason and law, often depicted as a bearded old man carrying nets or architects’ tools. Blake was fascinated by the tension between enlightenment and humanity’s baser instincts — free love, for example — and through Urizen, the poet seems to present societal dictums as a trap or snare preventing humans from reaching their truest plane of existence.

May 11, 2017

California songwriter Chuck Prophet’s latest release, Bobby Fuller Died for Your Sins, recalls an era when Nick Lowe and Elvis Costello back-flipped over metal’s devil horns and prog rock’s wizard hats, reviving a kind of pop songwriting traditionalism that at the time felt radical in its simplicity — a look back in order to move forward.