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portland

Device Grips Make a Crowd that Felt Good Feel Great

As the sun was beginning to go down on the What The Festival’s final day and all the spirits were just about in the right place, Device Grips travelled from Portland to life these souls even higher. They set up their big sound on the main stage and right around 6:30 they walked onstage and went into a slow build up with long instrumental sections and trumpet solos before diving into “Coke Infusion” off of 2013’s Year of Boomslang.

A set that hovered around the first ten minutes going in between a psychedelic jam and progressive rock grove was suddenly pulled together Tyler Jon’s rapping. Hopping around these elements usually doesn’t work for those that try it, but Device Grips experience and fluidity shined through as worked in this signature sound on such big stage. They then played some newer material and unleashed “Traffic” a vocal intense jam behind flashy drums and a solid groove soothed right into “Last Days.” Both these songs are off of Forth World, released last month.

Device Grips played several more songs with guitar solos, smooth bass lines, and captivating hip hop that eased a crowd with few working muscles left to begin a final night of dancing. After three days of hard electronica, it was refreshing to see a full band. Especially one with the showmanship and suave of these local musicians.

-Photos and story by Colin Hudson

 

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The many layers of Havania Whaal

Since 2012 Portland’s Havania Whaal has been making their own rules. Their ethereal sound can be likened to post-punk meets shoegaze...sort of. They call themselves “noise pop”, but when you’re forging new territory the descriptors fall short of the mark. All three members share vocal duties, which adds to the layers and dimension of their reverb-drenched domain. Stepping it up further, they recently created a live stage production with dancers and costumes, the soundtrack of which was the band performing their new cassette release “13 A.D.” Rumor has it that live productions will be a hallmark of Havaia Whaal shows henceforth. They’re touring the east coast with Portland’s Lubec for 10 days starting July 9 in Massachusetts.

See their tour kickoff show at The Know July 2nd. Buy their tape, pop it in the cassette deck of your ‘85 Volvo, and cruise around town lamenting the summer, wearing the darkest shades you can find. 

-Just Dave

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Slutty Hearts bring their noisy pop to The Trillium on July 3rd

"In the pocket" is a phrase used by music geeks to describe bands that are just... feeling it. And after a few years and some lineup changes, Portland's Slutty Hearts are there. Watch the closed-eyed communication between the band as singer Marisa Laurelle bashes a cymbal with a tambourine, smiling out lyrics about love crimes, and you'll see the prowess of musicians that have paid their dues. The confidence of their live set is obvious, yet there is a vulnerability that brings them to the level of the crowd. Combining the gritty realness of punk with the slick veneer of pop without sounding forced and pretentious isn't easy, but this band does it effortlessly - and with style. Catch them at the Trillium in Hood River July 3rd, or when they'll be covering the Kinks for Ray Davies Day at Bunk Bar July 15. - Just Dave

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The Sindicate release new album Sleepwalker

What the world needs now is not love sweet love, what it needs is bands that can make dynamic music! It is not often I come across a band or album which I find myself, well, impressed with… The Sindicate impressed me. The band released their new album Sleepwalker Friday at the Star Theatre.

After having lived in California for a number of years and consequently having my ears flooded with every Sublime acolyte who could form a band I am always a bit leery of reggae bands. The first track on Sleepwalker dispelled any fears I may have had. I could immediately tell that this group of guys not only had a diverse range of influences but that they  were proficient at channeling them into their own music. The cherry on top was that they did it well. Each track has a really balanced blend on genres ranging from fairly straight forward reggae sounds to what I would say sounded like early Stones/ early punk stuff. As each track played I was quite pleased to hear very dynamic and diverse sounds in each individual song. Songs like Zombie evoke a sense of mystery and suspense almost like you’re tip toeing through some foggy graveyard at night while the very next song RB-HB feels more like a small Californian beach town on a sunny afternoon. Each song has its own vibe to the point it doesn’t feel like they took the same music and simply repackaged it with different lyrics. The work put into these songs shows. The band describes themselves as “reggae rock” and I would say that’s quite accurate. 

The overall dynamics of the album are similarly silky smooth. The placement of each track is very well done so that listening straight through the album feels like a musical journey. I was very impressed with how the album achieves a sort of roller coaster effect and does what a good album should do. It take you on a journey down through valleys and up through mountains.

The Sindicate and their team did a great job on this album on both a micro and macro level. The band shows excellent musicianship in a genre which is too often scabbed over with repetitive sounds. The band just embarked on a tour, but catch them when they return to Portland. In the meantime, listen to their new album here.

-Cory Huennekens

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Show Review: Vexx with The Cigarette Burns and Chemos

When asked what venue best represents the Portland punk music scene your first thought probably isn’t Black Water bar, but if you want to find the heart of punk music, Black Water is the place to be. That was especially true on May 23rd with Vexx, Chemos and The Cigarette Burns.

The Cigarette Burns started the show in a frenzy, each of their songs louder than the last, proof of entropy in action. That being said their set wasn’t gimmicky, which is a true display of how much they’ve grown in the year they’ve been together. Their sound has become more refined, growing more authentic, powerful, and driven with each show. Erik’s stage performance is feral and absolutely hypnotizing, drawing the crowd in, reminding everyone what it’s like to be young, and since The Cigarette Burns inception each member has only gotten better, growing steadily more technical and confident.

Building on the same chaotic energy of The Cigarette Burns, Chemos took the stage, showing off an array of simple and fast-paced songs that the crowded audience at Black Water seemed into. Chemos is fresh to the Portland music scene and despite being able to get the crowd moving, hopefully they can further define their sound as they continue playing together. Punk music isn’t known for its carefulness of craft, for refinement, but that doesn’t mean it can’t have a uniqueness or clarity of voice.

That being said, Chemos ended their set by trashing their drum kit, turning the stage to rubble, so maybe that kind of don’t-care attitude is all they need to keep pulling in crowds.

Vexx however, is completely set apart from their peers because their music stands alone without any showmanship added to it. Their intentionality in songwriting permeates every part of their music. This is especially true in songs like “Stress” or “Clairvoyant” where rhythms build out of chaos and melodic guitar hooks snake themselves out of the tumult. Singer Maryjane Duphne, who is nothing if not unpredictable, personifies all of this. Sure, a singer can pitch themselves into the crowd, drop to their knees or writhe right off the stage, and everyone in the audience will be totally into it, but when Maryjane sings she wanders into an otherworld and she invites you to follow her, trance-like into the hysteria.

You can check out Vexx’s new release, “Give and Take” here:

-Sarah Eaton

 

 

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