Good things come from Portland, Oregon. For example, Portland has a great beer culture. Walk through most any of the city’s neighborhoods and you’re bound to stumble upon a fantastic microbrewery. They also have a great food culture. Dollar for dollar, Beast was on of my favorite foodie dining experiences anywhere in the United States. And, of course, they have a great music culture. On our last trip to PDX (in 2010), Kasey and I inadvertently found ourselves browsing the wares of a small boutique called Tender Loving Empire when I realized the store had it’s own record label. I walked out the door with a vinyl copy of Typhoon’s Hunger and Thirst and have had a new band to count amongst my favorites ever since.
What’s even better is how often all of these great things come together in Portland. For example, I was recently introduced to Tender Loving Empire’s latest roster addition, BRAINSTORM. The Portland-based trio features a guitar/tuba playing vocalist, Patrick Phillips, who also works for a Portland-based restaurant named Grain and Gristle that is known for sourcing local pork and beef which they butcher themselves.
Not at all unlike fellow PDX’ers Menomena, BRAINSTORM demonstrate a penchant for mixing experimental sonics and unusually sourced inspiration into their catchy pop jams. For example, their latest single “Beast From The Sky” is a skittering, polyrhythmic groove seeped in Colombian-cumbia studded with post-rock guitar squawk. The enigmatic lyrics are equally engaging. Drummer Adam Baz told MTV: “The Beast in the song very loosely refers to Quetzalcoatl, a plumed serpent from Mayan mythology, rumored to have returned from some distant godly domain in a fiery blaze of feathers.”
Throughout it’s course, Heat Waves is a hash of instrumentation. Most tunes are founded upon a bed of crisp, circularly rhythmic percussion which set the stage for lively, stuttering keys settled-in alongside bright, sputtering tuba, and nimble, flowery guitar riffs. It’s a unique combination for certain (especially owing to the prominent tuba), but it’s a mishmash that nonetheless remains entirely approachable and catchy.
Kasey’s recipe for Corn, Zucchini, and Padron Pepper Hash is a particularly toothsome dish that makes a good side for any occasion. It’s brimming with fresh corn, savory zucchini and (best of all) padron peppers. That particular variety of pepper is a personal favorite, in part, because I love the way approximately one in ten offers a surprising burst of fiery umph. That mix of fresh ingredients with unexpected spiciness makes BRAINSTORM’s Heat Waves a perfect pairing for this recipe.