Eugene Weekly : Music : 9.8.11


Jaina Jams

Nick Jaina combines the style of a well-preened, old world gentleman with the edginess of a seasoned busker. The Portland folkster is a writer, first and foremost. Jaina writes songs; he writes literature; he writes musicals. He’s even been known to delve into an opera or two. He maintains a weathered countenance, one that knows the finer aspects of life and the seedier side of things as well. There’s nothing overtly coarse here — just a bit of dirt under the fingernails. 

In his newest musical work, The Beanstalks That Have Brought Us Here are Gone, Jaina recruited his favorite female vocalists. Laura Gibson, Luz Mendoza (of Y La Bamba), Corrina Repp (of Tu Fawning) and Amanda Spring are some of the women that comprise the album’s magical, swooning vocals. 

The songs are all patently Jaina. Each averages about three and a half minutes long and keeps to an organic, acoustic sound. 

Jaina is all things Portland: a combination of the esoteric, the rustic and the organic melded together in concise works of beauty. You’ll think of a more optimistic Elliott Smith or a finer tuned Colin Meloy. There’s no better venue in Eugene than Sam Bond’s to welcome one of Portland’s most accomplished folk musicians. 

Nick Jaina plays 9 pm Thursday, Sept. 8, at Sam Bond’s Garage; $5. — Andrew Hitz



Return of the Guitar Worshippers

Ronnie Montrose is a rocker from the ‘70s who stepped out of the spotlight well before he became too dated. He retreated for a while, promising to return to the old songs someday.

Montrose, the band, was badass — the results were both rock-worthy and fun. “Bad Motor Scooter” has a pleasingly quick pulse to contrast lazy, Eagles-style vocals. The guitar part of “Rock the Nation” is amazingly lyrical — written more like that of a backup singer than an instrument. Montrose, the man, is an incredibly dexterous guitarist, routinely stealing the show with his technical skill.

But what will be most interesting to see is if Montrose’s technique has changed after spending so much time in the alternative genre. His two most well-known solo albums, Open Fire and The Speed of Sound, veered a little toward “Space Oddity” or “Flash” territory. 

This show at WOW Hall will be about guitars — strumming, shredding, picking and pitching. The ‘70s created an elite cult of guitarists. They perceived guitars as tools of technical beauty, not just objects of accompaniment. Montrose belongs to this cult and is ready to once again profess his love. Add in the shredmaster Michael Lee Firkins and it’s due to be a complete lovefest.

The guitar Montrose will use during the song “Bad Motor Scooter” will be raffled off to benefit Musician’s Emergency Medical Association (MEMA). The Eugene charity works to support low-income musicians and their families with emergency medical bills. It also provides discounted rates for vision, dental and basic care.

Ronny Montrose with Michael Lee Firkins play 8 pm Thursday, Sept. 15, at WOW Hall; $18 adv., $20 door. — Brit McGinnis


Electro-Onslaught at Cuthbert

Composite music with hip hop undertones and Generation Y echo-boomer aesthetic is the Pretty Lights’ drift. Their newest online release “PR vs. Radiohead vs. Nirvana vs. NIN” exemplifies the epoch-bending mashup style the group has become famous for. Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer” cut with samples from Radiohead’s “Everything in Its Right Place” and portions of Nirvana’s “All Apologies” mix and twist into a thumping distorted hypnosis that is the Pretty Lights’ calling card. 

Pretty Lights got big playing STS9 afterparties and hitting a target audience existing somewhere between the rave and hip hop scenes. These guys have whomped-out synth lines reminiscent of the Glitch Mob and a cinematic hip hop vibe that made way for artists like Emancipator. The live drums of Adam Deitch add an acoustic flavor to the electro-themed universe of Colorado-based producer Derek Vincent Smith.

Also on the bill will be two other heavyweights of electronic music — Vibesquad and Mimosa, bands that are more than capable of turning dance floors into frenzied heaps of flailing euphoria. If you are a fan of electronic music, this is a lineup that can’t be beat — glow sticks, flashing neon hula hoops, ecstasy, you know the deal. 

Pretty Lights plays with Vibesquad and Mimosa 6:30 pm Friday, Sept. 9, at The Cuthbert Amphitheater; $33-$38. — Dante Zuñiga-West


Steady Slackin’ 

The Slackers are turning 20. Which in today’s download-now-forget-20-seconds-from-now music business makes them, like, Methuselah old. But they made it to celebrate the band-released Stashbox — a compilation of fan favorites from 1991 to 2000 — and hitting the road with a tour-stop in Eugene at WOW Hall. 

Formed in New York in 1991 (a band from the ‘90s … called The Slackers — get it?) The Slackers play traditional British 2-tone ska music, rocksteady, reggae and soul (think English Beat, Madness, or The Specials) with a garage-punk twist à la The Clash. 

Alternative Nation said their music is “protest music made for dim, sweaty basements — The Slackers would sound at home supporting Rancid as well as some grizzled New Orleans electric blues trio” and the LA Weekly wrote of “their unfettered energy, unerring skankability and playful anger.”

The group learned the ropes from serious Jamaican reggae and ska luminaries like The Skatalites and The Upsetters, but they also have a deep appreciation for American sounds like blues, country and R&B. With a prolific recording output on punk label Hepcat Records and a tour schedule that would make Dave Matthews want to stay home in his jammies, these no-hit wonders with a cult following are known as premier interpreters of Jamaican music. They sell out venues around the world.

The Slackers play 9 pm Saturday, Sept. 10, at WOW Hall. $12 adv., $15 door. — William Kennedy