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Hands In

Polyester Itch by HANDS IN Erick Crosby – aka Hands In – is one of those utterly amazing, innovative artists and entertainers that make a lot of people think they’re just screwing around with music. He’s a one-man pop band, utilizing loops, triggers and myriad other blots of tricky gadgetry that you have to witness […]

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Land Lines

Loserly E.P. by land lines (PDX) With more than a touch of the brooding instrumental grandiosity made famous by The Velvet Underground and Sonic Youth, Land Lines manage to stoke the embers of those fiery influences to a boil on their lo-fi Loserly EP. The band has been busy working on a new EP, which […]

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Snowblind Traveler

Confederate Burial by Snowblind Traveler With what could very well be one of Portland’s sleeper albums of the year, Snowblind Traveler’s Confederate Burial rummages through gritty stride blues, 19th century folklore and piano-tinkled saloon ditties with the air of someone who’s been through the ringer and to a library or two in his time. Matt […]

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Myke Bogan

Pretty Hesh by Myke Bogan If there’s a more fitting heir to the title of King of New Age hip-hop, we’re decidedly unaware. Myke Bogan’s hustle is as heavy-lidded as it is enlightening, with rhymes spread thick over deliberate, funk-centric beats and blasts of schoolyard samples. His 2013 self-released LP Pretty Hesh! revels in ultra-relaxed […]

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Fur Coats

The haunted psychedelic patina of Fur Coats can take you in two very different directions. One is an eerie realm where discordant keys wrap through minor chord leads like a Tarantino score; the other is a wholesome high school dance floor where garage and R&B reigns supreme, as evidenced in their tune “Desperate,” which is […]

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Minden

What's More Than Appropriate? by Minden Minden may still be a relatively new addition to Portland, having relocated here from Kansas City in 2012. Their ravenous consumption of all things Portland, as well as their make-it-or-break-it path to take the live show experience to a whole new standard, has made them the veritable darlings of […]

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Alameda

Procession by Alameda Alameda’s many forms range from solo acoustic songs by frontman Stirling Myles to fully orchestrated arrangements featuring cellist Jesse Dettwiler, drummer Barra Brown and guitarist Phil Nelson. The band’s haunting melodies and lush instrumentation lead to a captivating dynamic that is as alluring at an intimate house show as it is at […]

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Barra Brown Quintet

Songs for a Young Heart by Barra Brown Quintet Lead by gifted, chameleonic drummer Barra Brown―who happens to be manning the skins for Alameda, another PDX Pop Now! 2014 performer―this quintet showcases Brown’s polyrhythmic muses, steeping smooth jazz saxes within steamy, exploratory compositions. The group’s 2013 LP for the Portland Jazz Composers’ Ensemble label (PJCE), […]

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Blouse

Imperium, Blouse’s 2013 LP, was one of the best regional releases of that year, pitting the mesmerizing, Nico-like vocal presence of Charlie Hilton with a songwriting regimen much more concerned with guitar-forward calisthenics than its predecessor. Helmed by Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s Jacob Portrait, the band’s explorations include forays into psychedelic synapses just this side of […]

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Brownish Black

Dancefloor by Brownish Black There are very few bands in the country, let alone Portland, who’ve so seamlessly married the feel-good tenets of soul, the sultriness of R&B and the groove of the legends who brought those genres to rock. It’s easy to spot-drop Otis Redding or The Staples Singers, but what Brownish Black accomplishes […]

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Cambrian Explosion

The psychedelic stew brews thick in Portland these days, but no one is reveling in it with the same reverence as Cambrian Explosion. Borne of the art-house communal dregs of the PALS Clubhouse in Southeast Portland, Cambrian Explosion pieced together a sonically diverse listen on their debut EP, The Sun, replete with roiling organs, warm […]

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Coma Serfs

Coma Serfs EP by Coma Serfs If you haven’t seen Coma Serfs live yet, chances are you’re not getting out much. This super washed-out garage-punk quartet have been about as inconspicuous as wings on a rhino, filling out bills with raucous sets of reckless rock ‘n’ roll all over Portland in 2014. The band’s excellent […]

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Etbonz

Etbonz has been filling up Portland’s dance floors with his deep, spacey fantasy house jams for a number of years. His mastery of hardware manipulation is fluid, organic and warm. His sets are inviting and all-inclusive. Picture yourself in a dark club with lights spinning, where everyone around you is dancing and you’re on a […]

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Eyelids

SEAGULLS INTO SUBMISSION 7" by Eyelids At their core, Eyelids are a four-piece band bobbing in the wake of late ‘80s college rock, plying potent fuzz-rock wares and making it look all too easy. That’s probably because at their core, Eyelids is also an assemblage of some of the most revered songwriters in the country. […]

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Fringe Class

Like a Brat Pack film set in an urban high school that never was, Fringe Class revisit ’80s stylings—yes, there are synths a-plenty—with a heavy dose of 2014 nonchalance. “You’re upset or mad about/ The things I do for fun/When I’m out and on the run,” vocalist M. Gold pitches and wails on “Stay Touch.” […]

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Grandparents

FUMES by Grandparents This group of friends came up together from high school through college, and from making their first rumblings in a moldy basement to becoming one of the Portland’s finest. Grandparents is a joyous six-headed hydra spewing fuzzy psychedelic pop over a beat that just can’t miss. Grandparents is the sound of youth […]

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Gulls

PATTERNS IS LIFE by Gulls Jesse Munro Johnson, the dub/techno producer known as Gulls, makes music that doesn’t seem to stop. Hypnotized by Gulls’ driving beats and subtly shifting patterns, you’re liable to get lost within Johnson’s mind. It’s a good place to find yourself, wandering through a ragtag library of African rhythms and spaced-out […]

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Hustle & Drone

Hustle and Drone by Hustle and Drone With their self-titled debut EP release in 2012, Hustle and Drone outpaced electro-fied indie-pop hubris by delivering on a highly anticipated offering following Ryan Neighbors’ departure from his tenure in Portugal. The Man. On the band’s forthcoming debut LP, Holyland, the trio embraces even more of the disco-synth […]

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The Lonesome Billies

Useless Bay by The Lonesome Billies Cowboy boots and a jigger of whiskey aren’t required, but they’ll certainly make an appearance during The Billies’ set of classic outlaw country tunes. Lovers of honky tonk, bar fights and good storytelling take note: Their debut LP, It’s Good To Be Lonesome, will be out later this year. […]

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Lunch

Johnny Pineapple 7" by Lunch From the opening chords of the excellent “Johnny Pineapple” from Lunch’s four-song 7-inch of the same name, it’s apparent that this fearsome foursome aren’t interested in beating around the proverbial bush; more likely they’re peeing on it. And if that’s not fair, they’re at least honoring the kind of meandering […]

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Old Age

Wildlife by Old Age Old Age hails from the forests of Corvallis, Oregon. These hard-working, bearded gentlemen are old souls playing soulful, heartfelt tunes. They have been playing all over Portland the past few years and recently came out with a nine-song album entitled Wildlife. Their music combines beautiful melodies, harmonies and lyrics with northwest […]

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Orquestra Pacifico Tropical

Featuring a whos-who lineup of worldly artists from groups like O BRUXO, Deer and the Doe and more―including go-to Portland percussionist Papi Fimbres―cumbia aficionados Orquestra Pacifico Tropical parlay Latin-steeped instrumentals with lots of trumpet, shakers, drums and more. All of which is to say that you’ll simply have no choice about whether or not you’ll […]

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Philip Grass

Portland’s Dropping Gems label/collective has produced a slew of noteworthy electronic artists over the last few years, and the duo of Burton Schaber and Ben Durfee―aka Philip Grass―is no exception. Manipulating gorgeously bizarre panoramas of sample-based sound tunnels, Philip Grass expand upon mind-bending compositions based on R&B, jazz and ambient drones to create hypnotic realms […]

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Psychomagic

Psychomagic by Psychomagic On Psychomagic’s self-titled debut, released on cassette tape by Lollipop Records, wild fits of reverbed abandon take a backseat to thoughtful garage-pop oldies, making the band’s live set a step above a punk rock sock hop. Skewed realities and catchy ‘60s psychedelia wriggle around songs with such lovelorn titles as “Mutated Love,” […]

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Purse Candy

Purse Candy’s Matthew Ellis draws on formal composition and french horn training to craft infectious, finely honed electro-pop. What began as a solo electronic project has evolved into a full band experience, allowing the depth of Ellis’s songs to be fully expressed in a live setting. Purse Candy combines tightly dialed grooves with memorable melodies […]

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Rio Grands

A-Z EP by Rio Grands Few Portland bands come as summer-ready as Rio Grands. Led by vocalist Colin Jenkins, Rio Grands traffics in the kind of classic, charming pop music that is tailor-made for the sunshine—think a more dapper Beach Boys trading surf riffs for jazz-chord progressions, Tropicália, and songs about girls named Beverly, Ivy […]

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Sad Horse

Purple On Purple Makes Purple by Sad Horse This high-energy duo has been livening up the Portland scene for several years now. Hard-hitting drums by Elizabeth Venable are mixed with fuzzy and spastic guitar riffs by Geoff Soule, along with short bursts of vocals returned back and forth by both artists. A full length album […]

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Sama Dams

In a relatively short time, prog- and post-punk maestros Sama Dams have garnered an inspired following for bucking all sorts of aural cliches, instead choosing to forge ahead with brilliantly tempered blasts of soothing instrumentals and swaying experimental rock freakouts courtesy of frontman Sam Adams (not that one). The band’s 2013 LP No Vengeance shows […]

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Souvenir Driver

With the release of their 2014 LP Living Water, bliss-pop crew Souvenir Driver take the reins on their previous flirtations with moody Depeche Mode-like swagger, developing a hypnotic kind of minimalism that smooths a salve of ambient guitar manipulations over strong, slow-paced compositions. -RJP

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SpellCaster

Vultures (Eager Maniacs Remix) by Spellcaster and Eager Maniacs Spellcaster’s members were just teenagers in 2009 when New York’s Heavy Artillery Records caught wind of Spells of Speed, their self-released EP. Fast forward five years, through a few north american tours, lineup changes, a stint at SXSW and a full length record, and you’ll find […]

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Stewart Villain

No Manners by Stewart Villain Stewart Villain is a hard-working producer and rapper who has produced beats for emcees such as Danny Brown, Problem, IamSu!, A$ton Matthews, Vinny Cha$e, Blu, Guilty Simpson, Gilbere Forte, Freddie Gibbs and many others. His Soundcloud page consists of diverse, original beats as well as unique remixes. Villain’s beats take […]

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Summer Cannibals

Summer Cannibals rock about as hard as any Portland band can. Their music is in-your-face, aggressive, garage rock, but also shows elements of hard rock, punk, surf and pop-rock. Their latest EP Make You Better, however, lets you know that this is a straight-up rock ‘n’ roll band and they’re going to make you dance. […]

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Tezeta Band

The seven member-strong Tezeta Band’s Ethio-soul Revue bring a high-energy, soulful, dance-driven mix of ’60s and ’70s R&B, funk, jazz and ancient Ethiopian melodies. Their sound is hypnotic and mysterious, with an overall feeling of comfortable nostalgia. The jams are smooth, the attitude is cool and laid back, the dancing…unavoidable and incredible. -JD

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Thanks

Blood Sounds by Thanks The blues-y, psychedelic rock ‘n’ roll made by local six-piece outfit Thanks is often described as “dark soul,” though the term “modern soul” might be more appropriate. The band’s debut record Blood Sounds was released in January, and sounds almost like the Alabama Shakes discovered electronic pop, with a warm, noisy […]

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The Bugs

The Right Time by The Bugs For the past 15 years, the unassuming barrage steadily humming from quintessential two-piece punkers The Bugs has been an anchor to a constantly shifting cultural landscape. Eschewing the progressions in aesthetics or sound many artists stumble toward, The Bugs remain every bit the D.I.Y., minimalist machine they were when […]

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The Cry

"Dangerous Game" by The CRY! Rock ’n’ pop. Pop ’n’ roll. No matter which order you say it, The Cry! shake up their hooks and harmonies with a hard edge. Rife with three-minute, glam-infused gems, their new LP Dangerous Game is a real treat. And seeing these high-energy, sweat-soaked boys perform live is not to […]

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The Estranged

The Estranged: S/T LP by sabotagerecords Longtime Portland punk crew The Estranged may have released one of the most quietly perfect albums of the entire year with their 2014 self-titled offering. Buoyed by smart songwriting, and the unassuming vocal presence of Mark Herman, the band fuses its hardcore and death-rock roots together to form an […]

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The Resistance

The Resistance is what happens when three talented local MCs (Mic Capes, Glenn Waco, and Rasheed Jamal) stop being polite and start getting real. Hailing from St. Johns, the trio’s vivd lyricism and grimy, sample-based production gives love to their hood while nodding to the future of hip-hop. -MM

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Tre Redeau

The name of rapper Tre Redeau’s crew, Soar Losers, isn’t even funny. Filled out by Portland hip-hop giants like Stewart Villain and Myke Bogan, the Soar Losers win at all that is lyrical. Redeau himself is the point guard of flow―agile yet calculated, smooth yet intense. His videos for “Rounds” and “What’s the Move” have […]

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Usnea

Usnea / Ruins Split by Usnea Having just signed to Relapse Records, it’s doubtful that Portland dark-metal wunderkinds Usnea will stay a secret for very much longer. Regardless, the punishing quartet’s penchant for funereal blackness and methodically slow doom dirges is a testament that the rumors of metal’s death have been largely fabricated. Usnea’s self-titled […]

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Vikesh Kapoor

All it takes is a few words. Vikesh Kapoor’s beguiling voice immediately grabs you and you can’t help but be drawn to his lyrics. Kapoor tells stories backed by classic, intricate guitar playing. Since releasing his debut album last year, Kapoor has toured the US and Europe extensively, captivating the world with the simple power […]

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Wampire

The duo of Rocky Tinder and Eric Phipps have gone through a few different incarnations of Wampire, but the five-piece synth-guitar rock they’re currently sporting is easily its best. Hot on the heels of their 2013 debut for Polyvinyl Records, Curiosity, Wampire is at the peak of their seductive game, wielding hooky new wave scorchers […]

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We Miss the Earth

Destroyed by We Miss the Earth In the world of We Miss the Earth, guitars and bass bleed together in a kind of crescendoed coitus, fusing limbs of melody and tune into an undulating beast of a song. The extraterrestrial tandem of vocalists Chris Koza and Mistina La Fave (also of the Prids) proffers a […]

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Wishyunu

Wishyunu has been providing steady, intimate and dreamy synth-pop ever since evolving from a noise project in 2008. The husband and wife duo of Bei Yan and Tony Bertaccini create a lush and surreal atmosphere that is perfect for winding down at the end of an evening, or even for long car rides cruising over […]

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Zirakzigil

Zirakzigil – Battle Of The Peak by Anthem Records In the word of Tolkein, Zirakzigil is one of the three great peaks of the Mountains of Moria, under which lay the ancient Dwarven realm of Khazad-dûm. The Portland band of the same name is a three-piece progressive doom outfit who’ve hit Portland with their mithril […]

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