Tag Archive: oregon

  1. Single Serving: Typhoon – Common Sentiments

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    Typhoon are the best little big band in America right now. Hands down. While their following steadily grows with each new listener, in my mind there is no reason this band shouldn’t be selling out the Greek Theater. In time, I’m sure they will. A band with this much skill and creativity can’t remain a secret for long. Their latest single “Common Sentiments” teases at what we can expect from their recently recorded upcoming full length.

    Both “Common Sentiments” and it’s b-side “Green” are lush, slow-building, orchestral tunes. The a-side opens with a click and a whirl before a rustic and folksy melody gradually builds into a clattering, propulsive swell. Here, Typhoon simultaneously serve up intelligent songwriting and a catchy melody. It’s original and fresh, but not with out precedent. Indeed, if you like artists like Sufjan Stevens and Arcade Fire, then you’re going to love this track which blends Illinoise-like instrumentation, Funeral-like songwriting, with frontman Kyle Morton’s thoughtful, often poetic, lyrics.

    And, if you were wondering, the single’s b-side is definitely not a throwaway. Indeed, it is a particularly gorgeous track. It’s a swaying tune blending together a bright piano melody, full horns, lovely harmonies, and a crisp rhythm section to accompany Morton as he sings: “Take my heart and paint it green. I never wanted to be jealousy. I only try to keep you close to me.  I only try to keep you close to me.”

    Buy a copy of their new 7″ single from their Bandcamp page. I already did. You won’t regret it.

  2. Musical Pairings: BRAINSTORM – Heat Waves

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    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.

    Brainstorm – Beast In The Sky

    Heat Waves is out October 2nd via Tender Loving Empire. Head back to the Kitchen to read Kasey’s recipe for Corn, Zucchini, and Padron Pepper Hash.

  3. Single Serving: Menomena – Heavy Is As Heavy Does

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    My list of highly anticipated records set to be released before the end of 2012 is ever growing, and Menomena’s Moms is definitely one of the top albums on that list. The album’s first track “Heavy Is As Heavy Does” opens like any other traditional rock ballad with a melodic piano-fed tune and intimate vocals. Things get more interesting though a little over a third of the way into the song as a skittering kit enters the groove before a snarling, buzz-saw guitar tears the melody apart. It’s further proof that Menomena can beautifully balance the pop against the experimental.

    You can preorder Moms from Barsuk Records and you’ll also get a Menomena t-shirt.

  4. Musical Pairings: The American Analog Set – Know By Heart

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    The American Analog Set has been extremely quiet lately (as in: they haven’t released an album in seven years). But it wasn’t always that way. Songwriter Andrew Kenny formed the Austin, Texas-based indie rock band nearly sixteen years ago in 1995. Initially the band was named The Electric Company, but they were subsequently forced to change their name when another band using the same name started doing the rounds. At the time, the band stood out from many of their peers in part because of Kenny’s dedication to simplicity in his production and instrumentation. That isn’t to say that they weren’t technically proficient or compositionally adventurous. Just the opposite is true in fact. As Kenny explained to the Phoenix NewTimes back in 2001: “I guess our recordings have a little reverb on them, but there was nothing between the instruments and the amplifiers at all. Just a cable, no knob twirling or tweaking.”

    Released in September 2001, Know By Heart was the band’s fourth full-length. With it’s shimmering elegance, restrained rhythmic sensibility, and (compared to the band’s prior releases) concise compositions, it’s always been my favorite album by the band. The album kicks open softly with the misleadingly titled “Punk As Fuck.” Brushed jazzy drumming, warm bass tones, and soft acoustic strumming usher in a flowing and gentle melody as comforting and enveloping as a wool blanket and a cup of coffe on a cool morning.

    Meanwhile, the album’s most upbeat moment may come on the kinetic and shuffling “The Only One” which is propelled along a sharp, tightly wound guitar riff as Kenny warmly intones: “Keep me like a key, I’m the only one. Worn around your neck, I’m the only one. Lucky like a charm, I’m the only one. Closest to your heart, I’m the only one.” It’s driving and hypnotic.

    Death Cab For Cutie’s Ben Gibbard provides guest vocals on the sparkling, plaintive track “The Postman.” It’s pleasantly lethargic and relaxed. Of course, that’s the mood the album sets for from start to finish. It’s whispered and bright. For example, the buzzing organ and clattering percussion on the grooving “Million Young” is embracing and dreamy. Similarly, the track “Aaron and Maria” is almost hymnal-like in it’s cinematic, urban love-story lyrics and unrushed, strummed acoustic guitar-based melody.

    Know By Heart pairs well Kasey’s recipe for Cardamom and Nutmeg Waffles with Minted Strawberries. Like the album, the recipe is fresh, bright and clean. It’s comforting and upbeat. But, not only that, Know By Heart is a great album to start your day with. It’s positive and cool, but stays sluggishly kinetic throughout. It’s gentle enough that you can leave the energizing to your morning cup of coffee.

    The American Analog Set – Aaron & Maria

    Buy Know By Heart from Insound (it’s no longer available on vinyl though). Then head to the Kitchen to read Kasey’s recipe for Cardamom and Nutmeg Waffles with Minted Strawberries.