The Shivas are Portland's premier surf-rockers and back-ealley dance party rollers, lovers of '60s pop and psychedelia, but players of something modern and mischievous. "You Make Me Wanna Die" makes you feel like you're watching hte kids do the monkey on The Corny Collins Show, hair up in beehives and arms goin' wild. It's a song of love gone way too good or way too bad, but either way you spin it, they got passion. Flip it over for "Whiteout", the ttitle track from their last LP (KLP243) that got left on the cutting room floor but remains the most infectious surf riff you'll hear this decade, featuring a cameo by Calvin Johnson at the 15 second mark. Closer, "So Far Out of Control" sees Jared Molyneux going solo in Dub Narcotic Studios and recording everything himself onto a reel to reel eight track. It's catchier than the flu, but feels way better.
This reissue of Girl Trouble's 1988 debut album, Hit It Or Quit It [KLP229], includes eleven original songs, one Northwest classic ("Steppin' Out" by Paul Revere & The Raiders), and two bonus tracks. To keep the energy level up and the over-production level down, these songs were recorded "live" (using the band's plywood speaker cabinets and a drum set purchased for $70 from the Sears surplus store) with only an occasional added guitar or vocal track. With the minimal pounding of Bon's drums, the steady cool of Dale on bass, the buzzsaw scream from Kahuna's Ouija guitar, and the rabid rock 'n' roll stylings of K.P. Kendall, Girl Trouble continues playing throughout the Northwest, 30-plus years on.
Jeremy Jay's latest, Abandoned Apartments, feels lived in, familiar, but filled with creaking shadows that go deep into the unknown. A product of several years spent in self-inflicted isolation and at various self-produced recording sessions, it is studied and wiser, culling its synthesizer tones from late-80s goth pop and touching on something darker than anything else Jay's ever made.
In Portland, OR, in 1978, a radical form of artistic expression some refer to as “punk” or “new wave” was beginning to take shape, and at the heart of this legendary movement was the powerful all-girl punk group the Neo Boys. Though they were an active band for just five years (1978-82), teenage sisters Kt (bass) and Kim Kincaid (vocals), Pat Baum (drums) and guitarists Jennifer Labianco and Megan Hengtes forged a place for women in the growing punk rock scene, and redefined gender roles in the 80’s movement of rock and roll. They regularly shared bills with The Wipers, opened for Nico, and played their first show with Television. Calvin Johnson has been working with the band members to track down the missing tapes of their recordings through a rabbit hole of Northwest basements and closets, and after twenty years of effort, the result is Sooner or Later (KLP247). A comprehensive double LP collection of Neo Boys recordings from 1977-1982, including the long out-of-print 1980 7” EP (released on Greg Sage's Trap Records), and 1982 self-released EP Crumbling Myths. Sooner or Later also contains recordings, early demos and live sessions that have never before been available to the public.
The idea for Lovers Without Borders started at the wedding of LAKE co-founders Eli Moore and Ashley Eriksson, a romantically appropriate beginning. Karl Blau was singing and playing sax in the wedding cover-band, and Alex Parrish was taken with the sight of Karl just holding a sax on stage. "It would be so cool to build a band around that image," he thought to himself. Karl Blau, already a prolific and vetted K artist, was totally on board. With the addition of Jessica Bonin and her baby-drum kit, Lovers Without Borders was born. Their much anticipated entry into the International Pop Underground series of 45 rpm 7” singles, “Detective” (IPU142) will see its release on October 1st, 2013.
LAKE is storied in collaboration, sonic adventure and an allegiance to exploring the limits of crafting pop songs. They have toured, recorded and allied with some of the most pioneering figures in contemporary independent music: R. Stevie Moore, Karl Blau, and Phil Elverum's Mt. Eerie, to name a few. The World Is Real (KLP246) is LAKE's fourth album for K and fifth overall, (excluding a bevvy of beautiful, more casually released underground cassettes and Eps), a collection of songs adorned with meticulous coloring and both analog and digital orchestration. The songwriting partnership of Eli Moore and Ashley Eriksson is the locus of LAKE's creative engine, but members and long time friends Andrew Dorsett, Markly Morrison, and Lindsay Schief are just as represented on The World Is Real. LAKE channels a deeply articulated feeling of discontent and loss on this record, but balances them in tandem with the pop music joys they have so deftly honed for many years. As a lake reveals only is smooth, glossy surface to the world, so does LAKE hold its own, stirring universe beneath its pop exterior.
It Can Be Done! (KLP248) is an album of new beginnings. The past year has seen Kendl Winter leave the successful bluegrass group The Blackberry Bushes to tour the country as a solo act, walking her banjo into dark bars, smoky music halls and packed amphitheaters night after night. It’s also full of intimacy. With a voice that is marvelously unique and bold, and songs that are both classically poetic and rooted deep in her own experience, Kendl draws upon an old-time Americana and bluegrass bent that brings to mind the haunting vocal work of Karen Dalton and Gillian Welch. Her banjo work on the album is striking, showcasing a kind of expertise that comes from years of companionship with a beloved instrument. It Can Be Done! [KLP248] is Kendl’s third release on K, the follow up to her beautiful 2012 landmark The Mechanics of Hovering Flight (KLP238). Recorded by Calvin Johnson at Dub Narcotic Studio in Olympia, WA, on It Can Be Done! Kendl is backed by The Summer Gold, Austin Cooper, Joe Capoccia and Derek Johnson. Kendl Winter is teaming up with Red Ants Pants this summer, playing their music festival with Merle Haggard, Greg Brown and friends.
Ashley Eriksson (darling to many for her work with LAKE) has achieved a status few artists ever know: her song "Island Song" can be hummed by almost any teenager in the United States (a surprising discovery she made while teaching Portland's Rock Camp for Girls last summer). Used as the closing theme for Cartoon Network's cult sensation Adventure Time, "Island Song" has over a million views on Youtube and has generated dozens of cover videos, making Ashley Eriksson the equivalent of a "household name" to the youth of America. Now Ashley Eriksson has recorded Colours [KLP245], her inspired solo debut to be released on K this spring, and a collection of piano pieces, ballads and songs for her fans around the world.
You may have experienced Arrington de Dionyso’s Malaikat dan Singa as an unexpected live force, pushing up through the earth like daffodils in late winter; or maybe you’re familiar with their previous exploits in the studio, Malaikat dan Singa [KLP215] and Suara Naga [KLP226], which burn clean with fragrant traumas. Open the Crown is similarly passion-filled, with new vistas (channeled hallucinations) exploring English (previously only the Indonesian language was employed) as their stomping ground to expand parallel themes anew. Open the Crown conveys tendrils of raw energy emanating from the head â€“ dream visions translated directly to audio outrage. Heavy. And sexy. To be expected from Arrington de Dionyso and his molten collection of Malaikat dan Singa who manipulate the “form’d and the formless” to create from within this broken system.
The Shivas are friends and sweethearts who grew up playing music together, launching Kickstarters for a tour van and then coming of age driving that van around the country. Having played literally hundreds of shows together just after high school, The Shivas’ joy and serious performing chops set them apart from other surf-pop bands in the swarming Portland music scene. Like their Burger Record cassette-mates Thee Oh Sees before them, The Shivas’ sweet harmonies and sun-baked sound harkens back to the origins of surf rock, and are too compelling for the physical senses to refuse. Jared Molyneux (guitar; vocals), Kristin Leonard (drums, vocals), Eric Shanafelt and Robert Mannering are tight, precise, and deliciously fun Their sweet, reverb-laden LP Whiteout! (KLP243) debuts on K this spring,
Chain & the Gang have grown up in the crevices and the cracks of society, not due to the hi-octane nurturing of main-stream media and corporate wizards, but in spite of them. They make their version of call and answer rock'n'roll to fill a yawning chasm in music where fun, personality, charm, and content fit in. With songs like “Surprise Party,” “Heavy Breathing” and “Certain Kinds of Trash” C&tG's punk spirit is as natural as falling off a log, and emits the pure expression of a feral child with finger paint. The Record is called IN COOL BLOOD (KLP240). Dig it?
Chain & the Gang are singers Ian Svenonius, Katie Alice Greer, and other musicians including Brett Lyman (M'Lady's records), Fiona Campbell (Coasting, Vivian Girls), Chris Sutton (Hornet Leg), Madison Farmer (Coasting), and Fred Thomas (Swimsuit, Saturday Looks Good to Me).
The Hive Dwellers new album is the essence of rock'n'roll moved from the garage to the basement to the rec room and then back out into the wild. Calvin Johnson plays guitar and sings his songs in combination with Gabriel Will on assorted stringed instruments and the contributions of several drummers who have made their mark on The Hive Dwellers.
Once upon a time Tara Jane ONeil mused that a 7 inch is the perfect venue for pop music, a place for light hearted documentation. After long travels and many collaborations, she banded together a group of friends to record two sweet singles from a vault of songs she’s performed over the years, and she called the album “Connections” (IPU136). The first solo recordings from ONeil since her critically acclaimed release A Ways Away (KLP207) in 2009, “Connections” features “Sirena,” the mesmerizing retelling of the Spanish Folk Tale in which a girl who disobeys her mother is turned into a mermaid, and “The Rainbow Connection” a tender rendition of the classic children’s song.
Anyone who has seen Emily Beanblossom perform has surely left entirely taken with her. As the lead singer of Christmas, a band whose unique style of psych rock made them a cult marvel, Emily sold out both shows and records, due in no small part to her captivating, cultivated persona and the rare power of her voice. A vagabond for our ilk, she has lived life on the road and in collaborations, drifting down the line until she was called back to her family farm outside Chicago, Ill. Here she paused to lay down the hollowed noise that would become Ruby Fray. Her premier album Pith (KLP239) is a string of musical gems that range from harmonic americana and folk to shadowy psychedelia, united in their spectral chamber arrangements.