CORTNEY HARDING, Portland Tribune:
Several recent compilations have attempted to showcase
the local music scene. While none of them fully encompasses all the styles
of Portland music, the second PDX Pop compilation does a great job demonstrating
that the city has a vibrant pop scene.
With two CDs and 41 songs, there is something
for every taste. The first CD kicks off with Sleater-Kinney’s aptly titled “Rollercoaster,” and
demonstrates that the band is on top of the world for a reason. Mirah slows
things down a few tracks later with a home-recorded version of “While
We Have the Sun,” while Nice Nice speeds things up with “Uh-Oh.”
Other CD-1 highlights include Glass Candy’s sexy, spastic
dance track “Lovin Machine,” the glitchy “Just Expect” by
Copy and Talkdemonic’s beautiful “Mountaintops in Caves.” The
CD closes with “Chemical Reaction,” by the Spooky Dance Band,
and reminds us again what great talents were lost in a bike accident in 2003.
The second CD features more big name acts, among them the Decemberists,
the Gossip and M Ward. While all provide stellar tracks, it’s the farm-league
contenders who’ll really blow listeners away. The Snuggle Ups bounce
around the room, while the Cajun Gems sit on the porch and twang. Die Monitr
Batss create chaos. Norfolk and Western soothe.
This compilation is by no means a definitive guide to Portland music,
but it’s a good starting place for curious listeners. Give it a spin
and find a new favorite band — many of which will perform at the PDX
Pop Now! Festival this weekend.
KIP BERMAN, Portland
Compilations are, by their very nature, uneven affairs--meant
more to showcase a variety of artists than offer a cohesive listen. That
said, PDX Pop Now!'s sophomore offering is just as much a success
as last year's debut. Sure, hiphop and Klezmer are equally represented (one
track a piece), and yes (surprise!), there's an overabundance of whiny dudes
with four tracks in their bedroom. But hey--that's Portland. The good folks
who put out this comp and organize the PDX Pop Now! festival have their hearts
and ears in the right place. Listening to the standout contributions from
such diverse artists as Dolorean, The Gossip, Glass Candy (Miami Pop Now!?),
Point Line Plane, Viva Voce, The Snuggle Ups, M. Ward, Wet Confetti, and
The Helio Sequence remind me what a fantastically creative and vibrant music
scene we are lucky enough to have in our own backyard.
MARK BAUMGARTEN, Willamette
Served on two discs, this collection offers a snapshot
of a music scene that's about more than just "pop," that percussive palindrome
that points to music meant to be consumed en masse. The compilation leaves
out much of Portland's music community: mostly, the musicians working within
the boundaries of genres like country, jazz, gospel, old time, metal and,
save one song, hip-hop. Instead, the collection focuses on the city's forward-looking
musicians, artists who are interested in reforming the templates of popular
music, using new and old tools to create something fiercely original. These
are many of the artists who are creating the framework for a scene that
is uniquely Portland in both its geography and its form. But what is that
Well, it includes women, as the PDX Pop Now! compilation features a dozen
female-fronted bands, from the angry (the Gossip, Sleater-Kinney) to the kind
(Mirah) to the undeniably rad (the Blow, LKN). It also has an isolationist
streak, as nearly half the acts included here opt to work the one- or two-person-band
route while making music that reinvents the sound palette (Nice Nice, Talkdemonic,
Y.A.C.H.T.) or reimagines tradition (Dolorean, Alan Singley, Jessica Jones).
And I have no idea what that means for the scene, except that it sounds great
and, jokes aside, sounds like Portland-a sweeping geographical generalization
that I'm willing to claim.