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Up & Coming

This Week's Music Highlights

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WEDNESDAY 12/5

CHARLES BRADLEY, MENAHAN STREET BAND
(Aladdin Theater, 3017 SE Milwaukie) See My, What a Busy Week!

WHITE LUNG, DEAD CULT, INDUSTRIAL PARK, DJ AHEX
(The Know, 2026 NE Alberta) Read our article on White Lung.

OF MONSTERS AND MEN, GREAT WILDERNESS
(Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside) Iceland, a country with a population about one-seventh of the Portland metro area's, has a rich musical tradition, often described on the world stage as challenging, eccentric, and chilly sounding—a sonic reflection of a bizarre and sparsely populated landscape. Now, Of Monsters and Men have rebelled against their compatriots and made an album that's the opposite. Accessible, warm, and uplifting, My Head Is an Animal has been out since April in the US, but it's already the highest charting album by any Icelandic band in history. Helmed by 23-year-old co-singer/guitarist Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir, Of Monsters and Men makes feel-good folk pop with lots of instruments and sing-along choruses, like a more northerly Mumford and Sons. You know "Little Talks," that hooky song with the male/female vocal and the rousing trumpet that you hear, yes, every single time you enter a grocery store. REBECCA WILSON

THE KILLERS, M83, TEGAN AND SARA
(Rose Garden, 1 Center Ct) Well, this is almost a really good bill... almost. You can't throw darts at the great M83 or Tegan and Sara. The former are still riding high upon their masterwork, the double album Hurry Up, We're Dreaming, which still sounds as ravishing as it did a year ago. They've become an excellent live band, to boot. And Canadian sisters Tegan and Sara have continued their surprising but effective growth from indie mope-folk to purveyors of the purest synthesized pop. The twins' latest injection, "Closer," from their forthcoming album Heartthrob, is that perfect wave of nostalgia and pop, a song that surely will soundtrack movies made years in the future about this current decade. But terror lurks in the latter third of this bill: Vegas-concocted rock-star simulators the Killers. Perhaps the single greatest insult foisted upon the mainstream pop-rock listening audience at large since Milli Vanilli, the Killers have painted well inside the lines at every turn (even their name is brain-slappingly obvious), and in the process have stripped away everything that's vital and original and imaginative about rock 'n' roll. For some reason, it's paid them handsomely. Oh, so you liked that one "Mr. Brightside" song? That's nice. That was nearly a decade ago. Since then, the Killers have left behind a long, non-biodegradable vortex of junk, the musical equivalent of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Get to this show early, then get the fuck out. NED LANNAMANN

DAVID WAX MUSEUM, VIKESH KAPOOR, BARNA HOWARD
(Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison) David Wax Museum is actually led by a guy named David Wax. The name is not nearly as creative as some of the band's instrumentation, which includes a percussive instrument made with a donkey jawbone and knitting needles that drum on fiddle strings. That's only part of what makes David Wax Museum more interesting than your average folk band. For the past few years, DWM has incorporated traditional Mexican music and American folk into a less cleverly named hybrid called "Mexo-Americana." David Wax Museum resisdes in Boston, but sounds right at home on NPR and would fare well among the folkies in Portland. It's warm and cuddly music, and there's not a damn thing wrong with that. MARK LORE

THE MOONDOGGIES, THE MALDIVES
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) In 1973, the Band released a passion project, an album of covers of their favorite blues and R&B songs called Moondog Matinee. It's not their best or most beloved album, but it speaks to the importance of musicians being music fans. There is a maturity and a humility that's the result of looking backward and around, and it's something that the Moondoggies have. And yes, they sound not unlike the Band. Though their 2010 album Tidelands is full of back-porch atmospherics, the ambitious songwriting and dark undertones make for lots of quietly shocking moments. The occasional organ sob of a keyboard ("Can't Be in the Middle") is affecting without ever being heavy-handed—not something the organ is known for. And, with his world-wise phrasing, Kevin Murphy sounds like the hobo mentor you'd turn to for advice if you ever found yourself inhabiting a boxcar. RW

THURSDAY 12/6

MOON DUO, LIFE COACH, WHITE RAINBOW, DJ E*ROCK
(Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison) Read our article on Moon Duo.

SUFJAN STEVENS, SHEILA SAPUTO
(Aladdin Theater, 3017 SE Milwaukie) Must we explain who Sufjan Stevens is? (Minimally: Detroit singer/songwriter, beloved by many, weird to the core.) So: This is a concept-heavy event formally titled "The Surfjohn Stevens Christmas Sing-a-Long Seasonal Affective Disorder Yuletide Disaster Pageant on Ice" or, sometimes, the "Sirfjam Stephanopolous Christmas..." (etc.). Perhaps lovely Sufjan is off his rocker. Or perhaps he just looooooooooves him some Christmas. Either way, it has to be pretty rad, right? Stevens is permanently wonderful. Don't sleep on the weird ticket restrictions—in order to eliminate scalping, it's all will-call and you have to pick up your tickets yourself, so expect a line at the ticket window. ANNA MINARD

THE CAVE SINGERS, POOR MOON, ROSE WINDOWS
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) "Have to Pretend," the brand-new song from the Cave Singers—from their upcoming album Naomi (due out on Jagjaguwar in March)—continues their stream of taking familiar, even threadbare folk and rock elements and coming up with something fresh. With an odd, incomplete-sounding guitar riff, singer Pete Quirk's tenor bark, and little else, "Have to Pretend" is a choppy, dirt-covered mover that, sure enough, becomes an unlikely single. Since their inception in 2007, the Cave Singers have grown from a mellow, candlelit, old-weird-folk act into a shit-kicking live band, and a blessedly idiosyncratic one at that. "Have to Pretend," for all its rough edges, is proof of the jagged songwriting chops that have made all three of their records—and presumably the forthcoming fourth one as well—worth listening to in full. NL

FRIDAY 12/7

HOW TO DRESS WELL, BEACON, HUSTLE AND DRONE
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) See My, What a Busy Week!

THE SWORD, GYPSYHAWK, AMERICAN SHARKS
(Hawthorne Theatre, 1507 SE Cesar E. Chavez) While metalheads of the old-school variety eagerly await a new Sabbath record, they'll always have the Sword to tide them over. The Austin quartet's latest, Apocryphon, leans even more heavily on the NWOBHM than their previous efforts do. It's no surprise that another little band reared on Sabbath and Diamond Head, called Metallica, has taken the Sword on tour several times. But whether these denim-clad metallers are playing head-whipping thrash or voyaging into more early-'70s psych territory—as they did on 2010's Warp Riders—the Sword do it with the same fuck-all attitude. And until they release their "Enter Sandman," the worst the Sword can do is bring sorcery and sci-fi to those willing to eat it up. This might be seen as crimes against humanity, but to others it's simply righting the wrongs. ML

NO KIND OF RIDER, BY SUNLIGHT
(Bunk Bar, 1028 SE Water) No Kind of Rider have been playing together since childhood in Tulsa, writing music that's smart and charged with raw energy. Their songs switch between moody and melodic to poppy and electronic, with Sam Alexander's brooding vocals and lyrics leaving a lasting impression. Layers of guitar and synth create an electric atmosphere in their music, like witnessing a storm and the calm that comes after it. They have been playing around Portland for a couple of years now, so if you haven't already seen them, they put on a live show that you will not want to miss. RACHEL MILBAUER

HOT VICTORY, HELMS ALEE, KOWLOON WALLED CITY, THE BODY
(Slabtown, 1033 NW 16th) Call it an insult, a cop out, or just plain lazy, but Weatherhead, Helms Alee's most recent effort, could be called indie metal. (Ugh, I'm sorry. Does it feel gross reading it, too?) It's heavy but hip, multi-influenced but untraceable. The first few tracks are loud and abrasive with rumbling bass, thumping Big Business-like drums, and red-in-the-face vocals. Weatherhead then quickly turns a sensitive corner and gets all shoegaze-y and psychedelic. The band weaves gentle, two-part harmonies and spaced-out guitars that make for good night driving. However, the psychedelics don't last long before they drop back into a fuzzed brain-smasher of a riff with vein-bulging screams. The whole thing feels very stream-of-consciousness. Helms Alee seems to take inspiration from anything and everything, at any given time, and runs with it. ARIS WALES

BLUE SKIES FOR BLACK HEARTS
(Someday Lounge, 125 NW 5th) When I first became involved with the music scene here, I developed a remote kinship with Pat Kearns of Blue Skies for Black Hearts. I spent the majority of my free time in high school exhuming and obsessing over obscure power-pop bands like Shoes and the Records (after a while, Big Star and Badfinger simply weren't enough) and was pleasantly surprised to discover a fellow champion of classicist power-pop was contemporaneously making music in that same vein, in my hometown. Not a lot of local releases have hit me as hard as 2008's Serenades and Hand Grenades did, and last year's follow-up, Embracing the Modern Age, was pretty damn good, too. Blue Skies for Black Hearts provide precisely what their name suggests: a inspiriting, sympathetic soundtrack for those who have been ravaged by love. They're like an umbrella in the rain. MORGAN TROPER

SATURDAY 12/8

ANTIBALAS, STAY CALM
(Hawthorne Theatre, 1507 SE Cesar E. Chavez) See My, What a Busy Week!

TRIXIE WHITLEY, DUMPSTER HUNTER
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) Trixie Whitley has a set of pipes so astounding that this is reason enough to see her live. But it's by no means the only one. Whitley is Belgian, but her American music pedigree runs deep—she's the daughter of the late blues musician Chris Whitley. At just 25, she has made a name among music nerds as a DJ, multi-instrumentalist, and the sometime collaborator of Daniel Lanois. Her debut LP, Fourth Corner, is coming out in January, but last year's Live at Rockwood Music Hall showcases her prodigious talents just fine. To me, it's the contemporary R&B vocals set against a backdrop of moody rock 'n' roll—two familiar sounds not often heard together. An amazing range surrounds both sides of her sexy contralto. Singers capable of impressive vocal runs typically eschew restraint, but Whitley isn't a showoff, and bluesy pain underlies every instance of vocal gymnastics. RW

SUNDAY 12/9

KING TUFF, WHITE FANG, MEAN JEANS
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) See My, What a Busy Week!

SHY GIRLS, SOCIAL STUDIES, HOSANNAS
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) Shy Girls' music transports you back to middle school, or the first time you heard those R&B hits on the radio that you can still sing along to. Dan Vidmar writes songs that sound like a mix between Smokey Robinson and Backstreet Boys, and has the formula to this niche squared away. The music is funky and sexy, and makes you want to move your hips and pull out all of those long forgotten dance moves. The songs have a similar, carefree quality to the ones that dominated airplay in the days of Mariah Carey. The distinguishing difference with Shy Girls is their ability to write songs that, while rooted in the familiar, expand past this to add fresh body and soul. RM

MONDAY 12/10

ASTRONAUTALIS, BUSDRIVER, JEL
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) See My, What a Busy Week!

THE SHINS, PURE BATHING CULTURE
(Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside) The Shins have more ex-members than Def Leppard; frontman James Mercer is the one who remains from the first three full-lengths that made the band famous in the first place. But their current lineup is, technically, the Shins' strongest. We've got Joe Plummer of ye ol' Modest Mouse on drums, Yuuki Matthews of Crystal Skulls on bass, Oregon producer extraordinaire Richard Swift on keyboards, and Jessica Dobson of Deep Sea Diver on guitar. So it's a Shins supergroup, of sorts. And seeing as how the band's latest album, Port of Morrow, contains just as much charm, catchy choruses, and witty lyrics as before, even hardcore fans of the original lineup will find it hard not to be enamored of the Shins 2.0. Also, as an unashamed holiday-music junkie, I really hope they squeeze in their cover of Paul McCartney's "Wonderful Christmastime" during tonight's set. MEGAN SELING

TUESDAY 12/11

LOST BAYOU RAMBLERS, ALBATROSS
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) Read our article on Lost Bayou Ramblers.

BIG EYES, THE CRY, HORNET LEG
(The Know, 2026 NE Alberta) Like some sort of new school Joan Jett, Big Eyes' Kate Eldridge commands a blitzkrieg melody like few others. The Seattle trio parlays fast, cranky power-pop in the same breakneck vein as the Thermals, trading four-on-the-floor drumming back and forth with chunky, jangly guitars and impossibly catchy vocals. The band's 7-inch single from spring 2012 on Grave Mistake Records, "Back from the Moon" b/w "I Don't Care About Friday Night," expanded ever so slightly on the punched-up M.O. of 2011 debut LP Hard Life, with head-thrashing punk and good old fuck-everything, aimless rock 'n' roll abandon. For a refresher course in rebelliousness, bring your big old ears to the Know—and come early for excellent Portland psych-punks Hornet Leg. RYAN J. PRADO

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