Creech w/Alex G, Special Explosion, Lee Corey Oswald; Slabtown, 1033 NW 16th
Creech pithily self-identify as "sad pop," and piano features really prominently in their music—a feat that's typically impossible to accomplish without crossing over into noxious Keane or Coldplay territory. Don't let the group's instrumentation discourage you from giving them a proper listen, however. On their latest EP, Pasture, the young Bellingham band infuses the best aspects of Built to Spill (namely, Doug Martsch's melodramatic drawl) and early Modest Mouse (the hypnotic pace) with impeccable pop smarts of their own ("Ash Wednesday," "Yearly").
Eels w/Chelsea Wolfe; Aladdin Theater, 3017 SE Milwaukie
Eels peaked with its second album, the underrated and unflinchingly personal Electro-Shock Blues, a gorgeous, Brian Wilson-for-Gen-X aural suicide note. But where do you go artistically once you've bared your soul? While Eels main man Mark Oliver Everett still hasn't been able to articulate his depressive propensities to the level of Electro-Shock's frightening perspective and elocution, the new Eels LP, The Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett, is one of the songwriter's strongest collections to date, reestablishing Everett as one of pop's leading intellectuals.
Lunch w/Wounds; Lola's Room, 1332 W Burnside
Lunch's new 7-inch, Johnny Pineapple, makes me feel a little more secure about the state of real rock 'n' roll in Portland. (And I'm not talking about all of these poseur, transplant, Urban Outfitters-repping dorks who wear nice shoes and balk at half-stacks.) Its four songs—pulled from last year's 10-song Quinn Touched the Sun tape—are certified cuts, especially the ebullient, buzzsawing title track and the Lou Reed-ish closer, "Sex Beat." They even remind me a bit of another great, economical Portland rock band that also managed to cram four stellar songs onto a meager 7-inch record: Archers. May they rest in peace.