Tag Archives: Doug Fir Lounge

Guided By Voices Announce Spring Tour

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By Hollister Dixon

Guided By Voices are an amazing band, but their catalogue is an extremely dense collection to get into. Where do you start? Is it Bee Thousand? Is it Alien Lanes? How do the post-breakup albums stack up next to the rest? And what of Robert Pollard’s other projects, like Boston Spaceships (featuring Eyelids members/Faces on the Radio veterans Chris Slusarenko and John Moen) or Circus Devils (who released their final album, Laughs Last, on February 24th)? What about all of Pollard’s solo material, or the three (!) Ricked Wicky albums that came out in 2015? And what about the Suitcases?

One of the best ways to take in everything, though, is to just see Guided By Voices play live. I went into my first GBV show as a mild fan, and walked away a rabid obsessive, and part of this is Pollard’s willingness to play as many songs as can be fit into their time onstage. You want to watch a band play 40 songs with the gusto of a band a third their age? You got it.

On April 7th, Guided By Voices will release the double (!!) album August By Cake, the band’s 23rd album to date. That seems like a lot, sure! But it’s even more notable that this is the one hundredth (!!!) album with Uncle Bob’s name on it. That’s a hell of a lot to process! The band’s last, Please Be Honest, was mostly recorded by Pollard on his own, but this album finds him reunited with former member Doug Gillard, and backed by new members Bobby Bare Jr. and Mark Shue. This spring, the band will support the album with a lovely tour which includes a few nice and small rooms, including the ridiculously small Doug Fir Lounge here in Portland and Seattle’s Neumos – with a neat little stopover in Indio, CA for Coachella.. They’ll have a hell of a lot of great support on the tour, everyone from Rogue Wave to DTCV (fronted by James Greer, former GBV member and the man who literally wrote the book on the band).

After the jump, check out the band’s dates and support, as well as new tracks “Dr. Feelgood Falls Off the Ocean” and “Hiking Skin”.

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It Started With a Mixx: A Los Campesinos! Primer

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By Hollister Dixon

Over the last decade, Los Campesinos! have been an incredibly dynamic beast. Starting as a too-smart tweepop band, they’ve morphed into a band of consistent and surprising depth. The band’s frontman, Gareth Paisey, is one of the sharpest lyricists working today, and though the rest of the band’s lineup has shifted pretty constantly over the years, he’s always been surrounded by other, equally talented players. The band are days away from the release of their 6th LP, Sick Scenes, and are about to embark on their first major North American tour in five years.

We present to you 10 songs over the course of the last six albums. It would be easy to do an equally wordy rundown of all of the band’s non-album material, but for the sake of ease, I’ve decided to stick to their albums.

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Los Campesinos! Announce New Album, Sick Scenes, Announce Tour

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By Hollister Dixon

Los Campesinos!, the best band in Wales (yes, the best, sorry Super Furry Animals) got somewhat quiet in the wake of their fifth album, No Blues. After rumblings of new recordings, this is set to change with their newly-announced 6th LP, entitled Sick Scenes. On the album, frontman Gareth Campesinos! had this to say:

We recorded the album, co-produced by long-time collaborator John Goodmanson and band member Tom Bromley, during Euro 2016 in Fridao, Portugal. The album exists as an expression of the pent-up aggression we felt due to being inactive for so long, but it’s also a celebration of just getting to be a band, of getting to play music with our friends. Thematically the record is concerned with fumbling for personal relevance while trying to be a better person. Repressing anxiety and attempting to function while constantly maintaining the perfect two-beer buzz. It is set upon a backdrop of non-league football, prescribed medication, and crumbling hometowns. These truly are the Sickest Scenes.

The album will be released on February 24th, 2017 worldwide courtesy of the always-lovely Wichita Records, and it’s available for pre-order right here. On top of that, they’ve released the first taste of the album with “I Broke Up In Amarante”, a song which hearkens back to their pop-punk infused roots. They’ve also announced a three-week North American tour, which will include (as Gareth Campesinos! points out, and as this writer is more than aware of) their first west coast dates in five years – This will include a date at Portland’s Doug Fir Lounge, if you, dear reader, are interested in seeing your writer in a state of joyful apoplexy. Tickets for all of these shows will go onsale at 9pm local time on Friday, November 11th. All North American dates will feature support from New York chiptune rockers Crying.

After the jump, you can have a listen to “I Broke Up In Amarante”, gander at the tracklist, and check out when they’ll be stopping by your town.

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The Album Leaf Announce Between Waves, North American Tour

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I don’t remember who first sent me “The Outer Banks” by San Francisco ambient all-stars The Album Leaf, but I remember the fact that the song – and, over time, the entirety of In a Safe Place – felt like the soundtrack to being outside of time. Jimmy LaValle’s particular brand of patient, glitchy post rock is the kind of music that does so much to evoke a particular set of emotions wordlessly, to the point of almost making you feel a swell of nostalgia without knowing what you’re nostalgic for.

The Album Leaf have done well to maintain this aesthetic over the years with 2006’s Into the Blue Again and 2010’s A Chorus of Storytellers, and this sound bled over onto Perils of the Sea, a collaboration LaValle made with Sun Kil Moon’s Mark Kozelek, but six years after Storytellers, we’re finally getting a brand new, proper Album Leaf record. On August 26th, the band will release Between Waves from their new home on Relapse Records, and they’ll be embarking on a tour of North America later this year to promote the record, with support by Rituals of Mine (formerly Sister Crayon).

You can find their tour dates after the jump – which includes a date at the Doug Fir Lounge – as well as a new video for the title track from the new record.

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LIVE: The Twilight Sad, Doug Fir Lounge, Portland, OR

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By Hollister Dixon

A little over a year ago, a strange thing happened: The Cure, the unbeatable godfathers of poppy goth brilliance, covered “There’s a Girl in the Corner,” the opening track for The Twilight Sad‘s 2014 album Nobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave. While The Cure didn’t break apart the song in a way that transformed the song into something wholly unlike the original, their cover of “Girl” was a weird moment of game respecting game. For nearly a decade, The Twilight Sad have built an identity around loud, breathtaking, masterfully-done sadness rock, operating as the missing link between the songwriting chops of Arab Strap and the near-deafening sonicscapes of Mogwai. They’re an “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” band, where every release serves only to tighten their core aesthetic, rather than radically alter it. As such, despite their debut album Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters being their most complete sounding record, they’ve done nothing but get better as songwriters and musicians since then.

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LIVE: Sloan, Doug Fir Lounge, Portland, OR

By Hollister Dixon

Before watching Sloan perform, I spoke with Music Millennium owner Terry Currier about popularity disparity of Canadian bands like Sloan or the Tragically Hip, and how it seems like there’s “an invisible barrier between the US and Canada”. He told me about the last time he saw Tragically Hip perform in Portland, at the Roseland, and the show was full of people who had come down from Vancouver for the chance to see the band in such a small space. The invent of the internet should have completely evaporated these barriers, but it seems bands like Sloan are just old enough to still be affected by this invisible wall.

It’s our gain, though. Sloan have been around for 25 years, and getting to see the band in a small space is a treat. The faithful were treated to two brilliant sets by the band: one comprising the entirety of their landmark 1996 album One Chord to Another, and a second spanning the band’s entire career. I’ll be completely honest: despite enjoying Sloan from afar for a long time, the band’s allure has never quite clicked with me. Despite this, watching the band perform at such a brilliant, breakneck pace was nothing short of awe-inspiring.

Sloan are the most unassuming rockstars you’ll ever see. They perform like they’re the Rolling Stones, and look like they’re all members of different bands, from the lost brother of R. Stevie Moore and J Mascis (Patrick Pentland), to the Canadian cousin of Thurston Moore (Chris Murphy) to a drummer who looks like he’s been plucked from a Damn Yankees tribute act (Andrew Scott). Yet, as a unit, all of these people work in brilliant lockstep, roaring through every song like it should be the biggest hit on the planet. They ripped through One Chord to Another as though it was made of sonic butter, and returned shortly after to give the same treatment to the rest of their catalog; When Chris Murphy’s comment on how the song from their 2003 record Action Pact would likely be the only one from the album they’d play was met with a couple loud grumbles from the crowd, he responded by jovially reminding the crowd that there was just no way they could play everything people wanted to hear.

Still, after watching the band’s onslaught of jangly indie pop, I found myself wanting to be one of the faithful in the subterranean space. This was a performance for the megafans and the die-hards. Seeing them perform left me wanting to go home and listen to every last record they had, but it disappointed me that I’d have to wait until their next time around to get to belt out all of those songs with the same upright zeal as everyone else in the room.

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LIVE: Primal Scream, The Cult at Crystal Ballroom / The Good Life at Doug Fir Lounge

By Hollister Dixon // Primal Scream and The Cult photos by Yousef Hatlani

Following the move to cease production of the podcasting arm of Faces on the Radio, I found myself just not going out to shows as much anymore. This is mostly a consequence of paying much less attention to the calendar, a part of my programming that vanished surprisingly fast. At least a couple nights a week, I would find myself looking at my Facebook notifications, and saying, “SHIT! That’s tonight!” about one show or another. To get back into the swing of things, I decided the best way was to throw myself into the deep end and double-book myself: I would see Scottish deities Primal Scream (inexplicably supporting England’s The Cult, rather than the other way around – but that’s neither here nor there) at the Crystal Ballroom, before crossing the Burnside to the Doug Fir where Tim Kasher’s Cursive offshoot The Good Life were making a triumphant return. In the process, I learned and realized a few things.

Primal Scream, The Cult – Crystal Ballroom

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Primal Scream // Photo By Yousef Hatlani

This is an obvious statement, but if you’re the singer in a band that plays a lot of quasi-instrumental music, you’re going to have to do a lot more to exercise the “stage presence” muscle. Stage presence is as much of a muscle as anything in performing, and if you’re in a band like Primal Scream, and you’re someone like Bobby Gillespie, you’re going to have to figure out what to do with your time while the rest of the band is going nuts. Primal Scream are a few year’s past their 30th anniversary as a band at this point, long enough that you’d be able to forgive Gillespie for not bothering to move around as much as he does. At this point, though, he’s got enough energy to make Mick Jagger watch his back: during longer, more instrumentally-driven songs, he bounds across the stage, posing at the edge for fans, preening like an unsung sex icon with his mic stand (note: Bobby Gillespie truly is an unsung sex icon). Joyfully, the rest of the band matched his energy step for step and turn for turn, putting on one of the single best Crystal Ballroom performances I’ve seen since the triumphant and transformative performance by fellow Creation Records stars Slowdive.

Partway through the band’s hour-long performance, Gillespie dropped a minor bomb nobody could quite believe: this was, in fact, the very first Primal Scream show in Portland. This was a source of joy, but also one of annoyance bordering on anger for the people I was with: despite the caliber of the talent onstage this evening, the Crystal Ballroom was – and I’m being generous here – roughly half full by the time the band had finished. It seemed that the band failed to notice this (or noticed and simply didn’t actually care), however, as they sailed on with enough passion and fire that I genuinely felt bad for the evening’s headliner. To be honest, I’m still a little confused as to why this bill wasn’t flipped – I feel like advertising a “first time in Portland!” performance by Primal Scream would have sold out the Ballroom months before the show actually went on.. but, again, that’s a minor trifle. I say this without a drop of hyperbole, but I feel blessed to have gotten the chance to see this band play, even if they only played for an hour.

The Cult // Photo By Yousef Hatlani

The Cult // Photo By Yousef Hatlani

The unfortunate part of my double-booking is that this was a very good opportunity for me to finally get what people enjoyed about The Cult. During a conversation with friend/former guest Shelley Bowers, I tried to figure out what I was missing about The Cult, and in the process realized that I was simply just a little too young to really, truly get the band. Having said that, the songs I did see The Cult perform were fantastic. Just like the aforementioned Bobby Gillespie, Cult frontman Ian Astbury knows how to get a crowd eating out of the palm of his hand, and just like Primal Scream, he’s used the last 30 years to really figure out how to be a terrific performer. Had I stuck out the performance, I feel as though I could have found myself converted. Next time!

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The Good Life // Instagram Photo by Hollister Dixon

Unfortunately for Astbury, I have an unofficial standing order to see Tim Kasher perform whenever I get the opportunity. After a brisk trek across the Willamette, I got to see The Good Life‘s return from hibernation. It has been a jaw-dropping eight years since The Good Life released Help Wanted Nights, and their return with this year’s Everybody’s Coming Down came with a surprisingly nonexistent amount of fanfare. It could simply be because of Kasher’s status as an indie rock lifer – it isn’t as though he himself has been inactive, having released four records since Help Wanted Nights (two with Cursive, two under his own name) – but it was clear by the joy in the crowd that everyone in the room was overjoyed to be able to belt out those songs.

Kasher is at his best when he sings about emotional turmoil (“I’m at my best when I’m at my worst”, he aptly sang on “From the Hips“) and despite his kind and affable stage presence, The Good Life is just a less angular (and sometimes more angsty) version of Cursive. That’s not a knock at all; The Good Life have the benefit of being a more dynamic band, where Kasher is bolstered not only by the standout bass work of Stefanie Drootin (who also performed a stunning and tear-enducing rendition of Album of the Year cut “Inmates”), but by the workmanlike drumming of Roger Lewis, who was damn near impossible to look away from at times. It may simply be the result of working with Kasher (Cursive is, as it happens, a devastating live act), but band maintained a state of constant tightness throughout their hour onstage, even during an Everybody’s Coming Down cut that was prefaced with “Here’s a short one that we’re going to try really hard to not mess up!” and during the band’s more chaotic and expansive tracks (namely the title track from Album of the Year, a song which goes in approximately 20 directions during its five-minute span). Despite the somewhat short set (short by some metrics, I mean), seeing The Good Life perform was a wonderful reminder of why, exactly, I have that standing order to see Tim Kasher perform every chance I get: he’s one of indie rock’s best frontmen, no matter what band he’s playing with.

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Refused Confirm That They Aren’t Dead, Return To Portland

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By Hollister Dixon

We all have that friend who says they’re going to leave, but then always finds a reason to come back. I’ll freely admit that I’m that friend, a lot of the time. As it turns out, it’s not always a bad thing: sometimes, that friend is someone you didn’t want to leave in the first place, because what they add to the party is just too good to do without.

Refused, one of Sweden’s greatest exports and creators of the still-amazing The Shape of Punk to Come, appear to be that friend. They broke up in 1998 and wrote a letter stating, without hesitation, that “Refused Are Fucking Dead“, and that “we will never play together again and we will never try to glorify or celebrate what was.” Which is why, in 2012, it was an immensely satisfying surprise to learn that the band had reunited, and were going to go on a massive tour (which stopped by the Roseland that year), before breaking up again. So, it came as a surprise to learn that the band were reuniting again, and touring again, and are potentially working on a new album.

I caught the band’s 2012 Roseland performance, so I can tell you that it’s extremely worth your time to make sure you catch this tour. Portland gets an incredibly lucky shot here: they’ll be performing at the Doug Fir Lounge on May 29th with Vancouver, BC’s White Lung. Tickets for that date go on sale on April 3rd, and can be picked up right here.

After the jump, check out the still-amazing video for “New Noise” and their 2012 Hellfest performance (highly recommended), as well as all of the band’s upcoming dates.

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LIVE: Kindness, Doug Fir Lounge, Portland, OR

By Hollister Dixon

In a lot of ways, for a lot of people, pop music is something frivolous, airy, and pedestrian. In the world of indie rock, there exists a weird riff between people who embrace it, and those who view it as “not real music”. This is an absolute shame, because those are the kinds of people who will sleep on people like Adam Bainbridge, otherwise known as Kindness. He’s still a relatively young artist, with two records under his belt (2012’s World, You Need a Change of Heart and 2014’s Otherness) but he’s also worked with a lot of undeniable stars (Robyn performs on Otherness, as does Dev Hynes, aka Blood Orange, aka Lightspeed Champion), and although your roster of guests doesn’t make your records good, it definitely means that you’ve got something good going on.

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LIVE: The Blow, Doug Fir Lounge, Portland, OR

By Hollister Dixon

As a live performer, Khaela Maricich (otherwise known as The Blow) is less of a musician and more of a performer. She gets on borderline empty stages, with her collaborator, Melissa Dyne, triggering the lights, projections, and music from elsewhere. Onstage, she sings her songs, but she also dances around and interacts with the audience and – and this is approximately half of every Blow performance – monologues. In freeing herself of the shackles of band and instrument, she is free to utilize a much different set of muscles when performing if she wants to create an engaging performance, lest she find herself relegated to the fate of being a “karaoke performer”. In a lot of ways, this is far more difficult, because every crowd and stage is completely different, meaning you need to figure out what you’re working with every single night, and then abandon that and learn something new the next night.

These are not the concerns of The Blow at this moment in time, and that is a very weird thing. Currently, The Blow are working with a new performance, which they’ve deemed “Unplugged”. For them, this means no laptops or projectors, which have been replaced with live instruments. However, those live instruments are Maricich’s keyboards, and an impressive array of modular analog synthesizers – the very same ones being used to produce The Blow’s new record – manned by collaborator/projectionist/song-triggerer Melissa Dyne. The big question: Does this work? We’ll get to that question in a little bit.

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