Music

Soda Pop!

Boycrazy's Back (Now with Extra Fizz!)

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THE MUSIC SCENE IN PORTLAND has baked for the last year or so (in more ways than one), and now it's ready to bubble over. Little clues are scattered about the city like secret love notes; as always, you gotta know where to look. The openings of pro-community venues like Meow Meow and The Robot Steakhouse are welcome, but hardly surprising--both veterans and new blood worked hard to kick-start our hearts (to paraphrase Vince Neil). Blame it on summer if you must, but it's undeniable that we're all coming out of hibernation.

Much of the buzzing involves the long-awaited return of Portland staple Boycrazy. In 1997, Boycrazy emerged from Portland's pop vapors in the form of Rachel Blumberg (sweet goyle vocals, genius drumming) and Bryce Edwards (lyrical poet, fuzzy guitars). Their surprisingly adept harmonies and compact, milk-and-honey sound not only yielded new members (Johnny Cakes, The Jed, and later, Honey Owens), but also captured the adoration of local pop guru Magic Marker Records. Boycrazy then released a 7" before embarking on a Western states tour. Their single "Last Thursday"--a tight little number with endearingly sassy vocals --was in heavy rotation on college play lists everywhere. It seemed Boycrazy was poised for a small level of pop stardom.

Then, without any warning at all, they vaporized. Gone like a muse, they entered into the illustrious world of day jobs and "album contributors" (Edwards and Blumberg can be found on recent releases by The Minders, Jeff London, and Kind of Like Spitting, to name a few). Portland was Odysseus' fleet, and their disappearance as a complete band could've easily sunk our pop ship.

Luckily, it's hard to suppress the truly boycrazy. Like skipping, swooning teens, Boycrazy has returned, and, after losing The Jed to Six Foot Sloth, Owens to the Knockout Drops, and Cakes to the Portland Opera (!), they've reeled in a new lineup. Edwards and Blumberg recruited Jeff London (of Jeff London solo warbler fame) to flesh out the basslines, and Alan Harris (of the illustrious Bill Pullmans) on guitars. You could call it a local supergroup, to be sure. But wait! Isn't that Harris on drums and Rachel on guitar? Is London truly playing the keys? But of course. Boycrazy are well known for the ever-popular phenomenon of instrument-switching. As Harris says, "the weird thing about this band is how everybody can play everything."

The question is this: With a new lineup and a constantly changing scene, will they still be as Boycrazy as ever? At their first show in at least six months (Meow Meow, May 11), they ran into the standard obstacles: deviant vocal monitors and previously unappointed time signatures. Edwards, at one point, made a sour zwieback face as he and Blumberg sang in different keys. Regardless, the luster behind their project was apparent. The arrangement was nearly impeccable, with London's intricately singing bassline carrying the hugely complete interaction of vocals and warm guitars. Blumberg may be the best drummer in all of Portland--not only for her ability to sing and drum at once, but because she knows not to over-drum. Her fills are complex, but unexpectedly placed. Their three- and four-part harmonies (an all-too-rare element in modern music) are breathy and delectable, building to drum breaks almost spontaneously. The fact that they're seasoned musicians certainly doesn't hurt. Boycrazy promises to be a perfect, organic pop machine.

Maybe we can blame it on summer, or great all-ages venues, or even a little on Boycrazy, but Portland music seems to be ready to mix into one great, cohesive candy drink.

Plop, plop, fizz, fizz--and, oh, what a relief it is.

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