Eugene Weekly : Music : 10.20.11

Bringing It Home

If Just People had things its way, we would all be swimming in the crisp clear fountain of youth discovered by our musical predecessors. Self-described as “the dedicated offspring of a generation of movers and shakers,” Just People stitches together a sonic tapestry evocative of Talking Heads, infusing this with a message of positive creativity.

Marinated in the sauce of classic rock, guitarists Peter Marcott and Ian Ridgeway sear through tantrum-like anthems while Alex Greene (drums) and Todd Gee (bass) keep the dancing to a maximum with pounding funk-fueled rhythms. This talented instrumentation, coupled with Scott Gilmore’s lyrics like “Youth is not your age / It’s how much you believe,” encourages a return to blatant idealism, protest and growth.

“I’m sick of people who are 19 saying ‘I’m old … I feel old.’ No you aren’t,” Gilmore says. “It seems like people don’t realize how much control they actually have over their own lives and happiness.”

Conceived in Eugene in 2007, Just People has spent the past year and a half in Portland tightening its sound, writing music and preparing its largest undertaking yet. With 18 West Coast dates and recording set for January 2012, this tour showcases new songs as well as older numbers from the 2009 album Beware of the Phoenix (available for free download at

“We are excited to be coming back home (to Eugene) where we learned so much,” says Gilmore.

Eugene is an environment where Just People thrives, amongst friends, good sounds and the undying “opportunity to create the world we inhabit.”

Just People plays 9 pm Saturday, Oct. 22, at Luckey’s; $5. — Patrick Newsome

Hawaiian Styles

It is no modest feat to win Best Reggae Album at Hawaii’s 2011 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards. The rock (Hawaii) is a small world, but a small world with a huge reggae scene. The Green’s unique mix of pop-savvy roots reggae stands out in the band’s home state of Hawaii, just as it does on the mainland.

On the verge of releasing its sophomore album, Ways & Means, and in the first leg of its seven-week tour, The Green is putting in work. “We learn a lot on the road playing in different parts of the country,” says Zion Thompson (guitar, vocals).

Thompson, together with Caleb Keolanui (lead vocals), JP Kennedy (guitar, vocals) and Ikaika Antone (keyboard, vocals), create reggae that is richly influenced by other genres of music. While cooped up on long drives in the tour van, the band rotates through its eclectic playlist of favorites. Jazz, country, dubstep and folk all filter in to the mix. The Green’s own sound is one that combines reggae with soul and hip hop.

Touring the U.S. and sharing the stage with other bands has also been hugely influential on The Green. “Seeing other groups do their thing on the mainland, it rubs off on you,” Thompson says. “We are just sponging it up, and we can’t wait to get back to Eugene, brah.”

The Green makes feel-good reggae that can range from fast-paced dancehall rhythms to laid-back, head-nodding jams. Like fellow musicians Rebelution and Black Square, The Green brings island style and charisma that is unmistakably Hawaiian. This is not a band to miss.

The Green plays 8 pm Friday, Oct. 21, at WOW Hall; $13 adv., $15 door. — Dante Zuñiga-West 

Extraterrestrial Blastings

In an era where electronic music has taken over the national show-going scene, Skrillex is amongst the most dominant of performers. In fact, he has been selling out virtually every venue he hits.

For electronic music fans, nothing else really comes close to Skrillex (with the exception of perhaps Bassnectar). Dubstep and glitch hop are melded together with enchanting synthesizer and, of course, whomped-out bowel-blasting bass. Skrillex sounds like extraterrestrials have landed in your brain with the soul purpose of vibrating your life force.

Though Aphex Twin and Squarepusher are listed as formative influences, Skrillex is the ultimate genre twister. It’s anyone’s guess what he will do from show to show or song to song. Even if you despise electronic music, Skrillex likely uses a sample from one of your favorite bands among his mash-up masterpieces. Oh, and his music videos are terrifying as well as brilliantly beat edited — do some YouTube cruising and you will see what I mean.

Most recently, Skrillex collaborated on a song with the remaining members of The Doors for a project called Regeneration, a documentary following the hybrid music of the modern era which will also include DJ Premier, Pretty Lights and The Crystal Method. It is a fitting project for the still rising, insanely talented young producer.

Skrillex plays 8 pm Wednesday, Oct. 26, at McDonald Theatre; Sold out. — Dante Zuñiga-West

There and Back

Ryan Adams has run the circuit — from indie-Americana’s reigning enfant terrible, to noodle-boggling prodigiousness, to drug binges, a stint in the Chelsea Hotel and kicking drugs, to washed-up and retired — all in the time it takes most artists to put out a third album.

After releasing some underrated classics with his former band Whiskeytown, Adams put out Heartbreaker in 2000. He quickly drew serious comparisons (being the “next Dylan” always rests heavy on a young guy’s shoulders) but just as quickly began to frustrate and fascinate his audience with erratic behavior, genre-hopping and rapid-fire but imbalanced output, making Adams a sort of Arthur Rimbaud of alt-country.

But year 27 (the year of doom for many young artists who seem destined to leave beautiful corpses) came and went for Adams, and when he announced in 2009 his engagement to teen-queen Mandy Moore as well as retirement from music, many felt this was just “Ryan being Ryan.” Turns out they were right. After experimenting with writing a book, Adams returned to music, this time with his own label and a renewed focus for what he does best.

In early October of 2011 Adams released Fire & Ashes, a largely acoustic and country-fried return to his Heartbreaker roots. The title-track “Fire & Ashes” is a sweet and sad Dylan-esque ballad in which Adams mixes his usual romantic lyricism with a clear, catchy tune. What’s apparent is Adams showing some restraint in his songwriting and applying a critical ear to his work, something that has been sorely missing up until now.

So if you think they just don’t make ‘em like they used to — like Bob or Neil or Bruce or even Petty or Steve Earle — try Adams. He might not have made his masterpiece yet, but Fire & Ashes ensures that he’s an artist people will be talking about for years to come.

Ryan Adams plays 7:30 pm Thursday, Oct. 20, at The Shedd; Sold out. — William Kennedy