Eugene Weekly : Music : 5.8.08

Traveling on a Song

It seems that Brooke Parrott can’t sit still. She has sung her way from Eugene to Seattle to Boston and back again. This week she’s in town for a short while after graduating from Berklee College of Music in Boston and before heading off to London. Before she takes flight to find more musical inspiration, Parrott is celebrating the release of her first full-length album, Another City.

Her music is a complex combination of powerful lyricism and bluesy pop. Parrott’s lyrics impose themselves upon you in an endearing manner, but her musical talents are maybe even more impressive. The songs on her album feature a wide array of instruments from the cello to the fiddle, and Parrott not only concentrates on vocals but also plays both the piano and organ.

While music is undoubtedly the focus of Parrott’s life, for the last couple of years she has also dedicated her time to raising funds for AIDS education in Ghana through an organization called LifeLovers. LifeLovers is working to fund a refuge and education facility for homeless orphans, and to help in this effort, Parrott will be holding a raffle at her release party.

The emotion Parrott feels for LifeLovers translates into her music through her new single, “Maybe She Just Doesn’t Love You,” and “In Any Light,” which has a slow but resonating sound.

Celebrate with Parrott and support LifeLovers at her release party at 7 pm Friday, May 9, at Cozmic Pizza or at a free in-store set at 3 pm Saturday, May 10, at CD World. — Megan Udow


Dark Waters Ahead

It’s hard to know what to write about groups that have been critically compared to other really famous and beloved acts. Mia and Jonah pose this problem in spades. I almost don’t want to say which bands other writers think this Bay Area duo sounds like, or who their guitar and upright bassist played with in the recent past; those tidbits are probably best left to the Internet savvy. What I will say is that Mia and Jonah’s second full-length album has an appealingly live, folky feel to it, spontaneously emotional yet heavy with intentional musical decisions. Both lead vocalists deliver this collection of painfully human stories without burdening their songs with distracting production or indulgent instrumentation. If you care to devote your listening energy to simple harmonies saturated in serious poetic musings, Mia and Jonah have a cache of material that will delight you. Those seeking a more immediately visceral experience may struggle through the quiet intensity their fans have come to appreciate.

Rooms for Adelaide opens with a healthy dose of Mia Mustari’s unapologetic alto on the disturbingly catchy track “3 Stories High.” After exploring this impressionistic slice of urban despair, track two takes listeners through the musings of a lover who has sacrificed self-love for longing on the beautiful ballad “Wish.” And so it goes, all the way through Rooms; relentlessly intimate yet musically soothing enough to keep you from resisting the pain. If there is a “hit” on this album (and I don’t use that word with any particular value attached to it) it is probably “Junkyard Dog,” a raunchy little number about life on the down and out, likely to stir audiences from the magical trance induced only by those special performers who create what they live and live what they create. Mia and Jonah, Half Acre Day and Leo London play at 9:30 pm Friday, May 9, at Sam Bond’s Garage. 21+ show. $5. — Adrienne van der Valk


The ‘N Thing

The Midwestern indie band Tapes ‘N Tapes is more than just a bunch of thrift store T-shirt clad hipsters; they’re thrift store T-shirt clad hipsters who are trying to make a difference. The band is encouraging its fans to participate in this year’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer and/or Avon Walk for Breast Cancer event. Register in your hometown as “Team Tapes ‘N Tapes” and, upon finishing the walk and reporting back with the funds you’ve raised, you’ll be in the running to win a personalized signed copy of the band’s appropriately named sophomore effort, Walk It Off. (Get it? Because you’re participating in a walk, and it’s called … oh, never mind.)

The band’s sound is in the vein of fellow indie rockers Wolf Parade. Josh Grier’s wavering vocals paired with tight guitar and bass riffs make for intriguing, upbeat tracks that you can’t help but do the indie sway to. (You know, when you bop your head slightly, sway your hips, tap your foot, maybe swing your arms a bit all while staying completely in place.)

This is the Minneapolis natives’ follow-up to their critically acclaimed debut record, The Loon, and the band is promoting the shit out of it by playing close to 30 shows in two months. They won’t be in Eugene until the second leg of their tour, so the boys will probably be pretty tired, but I’m sure that won’t prevent them from rocking out, or you from involuntarily breaking into the indie sway. Tapes ‘N Tapes plays at 9 pm Monday, May 12, at the WOW Hall. $12 adv., $14 door. — Katrina Nattress


Eugene’s Queens of Blues

Barbara Healy and Deb Cleveland have been sharing their love of blues, soul, Motown and pretty much anything else that makes you shake your rump for some time now. The two divas of the local blues scene have won a handful of Best of Eugene awards in EW‘s readers’ poll and collaborated on a number of projects and owned stages across the city. Their voices are distinct: Healy possesses a satiny, soulful croon while Cleveland’s growl has the same rough, raw and menacing bite as Koko Taylor and Big Mama Thornton. Their voices work well together though, almost like a blues version of good cop/bad cop. Now the vocalists have teamed up on an appropriately named new EP, Share the Love, and they will be sharing not only the love but also a backing band, the New Allnighterz, which features other stars of the blues scene. Get ready for a night of solos, duets and all around gettin’ down. Barbara Healy plays with the New Allnighterz and Deb Cleveland at 9:30 pm Saturday, May 10, at Mac’s at the Vets Club. $5. — Jeremy Ohmes


Flutes of Fancy

Everywhere you look these days, you see classical musicians leading double lives: playing and teaching the classics in orchestras and at universities and then performing and even writing contemporary music that draws on happening sounds far beyond concert halls. String quartets (Kronos), cellists ( Matt Haimovitz, Maya Beiser), guitarists (John Schneider, David Tanenbaum), brass ensembles (Meridian Arts), percussion groups (So, Nexus), mixed ensembles (Eighth Blackbird, Bang on a Can All Stars) … and now flutists. Forbidden Flutes, UO flute prof Laura Barron’s duo with Liesa Norman, plays exceptionally varied and listener friendly music as well as their wide-ranging original compositions. Augmented by local musicians (Camilla Carter, piano; Josh Tower, bass; Kevin Congleton, drums), the pair will perform music from Radiohead to Chick Corea to Mozart to Piazzolla. Forbidden Flutes perform at 8 pm Sunday, May 11, at UO’s Beall Hall (all ages), and at 8 pm Monday, May 12, at Jo Federigo’s (21+). — Brett Campbell

Danes On Parade

With their newest record, Parades, the five Danish darlings of Efterklang have successfully created something that’s perfect for a procession without getting too cutesy or kitschy. And though not all the tracks are fit for a celebration — some seem better suited to a funeral procession than a festive gala with floats and such other frippery — Efterklang’s intricate arrangements offer up orchestral bliss for the post-pop crowd. Whimsical woodwinds combined with subtle strings and airy soprano harmonies make for nice summertime anthems, but Parades isn’t all light and fluffy; occasionally, the record descends into brooding, minimalist electro stuff that pours its melancholy all over what is otherwise a light-hearted, lovely Parade(s).

Intentional or no, the album is a pleasing and worthy follow up to the band’s 2004 debut, Tripper. Lucky for us, U.K.-based The Leaf Label signed the band for distribution purposes so that we, over here on the other side of the world, can benefit from Denmark’s artistic contributions. Though Mads Brauer, Casper Clausen, Thomas Husmer, Rune Mølgaard and Rasmus Stolberg are Efterklang’s core members, the symphonic nature of the music requires the talents of Niklas Antonson, Anna Brønsted, Frederik Teige and Peter Broderick to properly recreate Parades‘ intricacies on stage (and, uh, recorded).

Efterklang tours with Slaraffenland, a cute Danish post-New Wave band that’s also signed to Rumraket, Efterklang’s record label. If you were one of the lucky Oregonians who made it down to SXSW in Austin this year and saw them play at Emo’s, great; if not, check them out now, or you’ll be paying 20 bucks a pop at the Roseland later. Efterklang and Slaraffenland perform at 9 pm Sunday, May 11, at the WOW Hall. $10 adv., $12 door. — Sara Brickner


Heirloom Southern Blues Invades The North

Though Mac’s at the Vets Club rarely charges more than a few dollars as the cover to see some great under-the-radar rock and blues acts (as well as local darlings like Deb Cleveland), here’s a concert featuring some seasoned vets — not of our military, but of American blues — who deserve your dollars. Smokin’ Joe Kubek and Bnois King are a prolific, seasoned pair of Texas blues masters who’ve been performing on stage together for almost 20 years. After a 1991 debut and several subsequent releases on Bullseye Records, Kubek and King signed to Blind Pig Records in 2003 and began touring across North America and Europe constantly. On the rare occasions when they aren’t touring, they’re recording, and the latest addition to an enormous catalogue, Blood Brothers, is out now for your down-home enjoyment.

King and Kubek are both accomplished guitarists, but while King prefers to play the smooth, jazzy stuff, Kubek specializes in the raw blues-rock of the sort performed by Stevie Ray Vaughan — with whom Kubek once shared the stage in Dallas. Bnois King, who’s older than Kubek, has been playing about as long as Kubek has, and both are comparably skillful musicians who’ve poured all of their energy into creating and performing their signature hybrid blues tunes. Smokin’ Joe Kubek and Bnois King perform at 8 pm Tuesday, May 13, at Mac’s at the Vets Club. 21+ show. $15. — Sara Brickner