Thursday, December 31, 2009

Question of the Week: Best of 2009

Sorry about not posting last week. I guess I could make the excuse that I was taking a holiday vacation, but I'm not sure, as I didn't actually travel or anything. Oh well.

It's the end of the year, and I'm obligated to pose a best of 2009 type question, so what was the best live show you saw this year?


Ben Meyercord's Live Music Picks for Thursday, December 31st

Hello Dear Readers,

Happy New Years Eve! It is the last day of 2009. Bananas. I ended up staying in last night. I disgust actions. But my rationalization, and there is always a rationalization, was that there are so many New Years Eve shows to choose from that I did not want to be worn out. And you know what there are a lot of New Years Eve shows that look really good. See:

Thursday, December 31st

The Doug Fir is having the Fir Ball which features Quasi playing The Who, The Shaky Hands, and Inside Voices, and DJ Safi. First of all Quasi is awesome. They were one of the bands I listened to back in Texas when I was dreaming of how cool Portland was. Second of all The Who were are pretty cool band too. Therefore it is my educated guess that this show will be pretty sweet. As anyone who has ever seen Quasi can attest, they know how to rock. The Shaky Hands are another band that has this know how. It seems like they don't play around town that much anymore. I think the last time I remember them playing was at PDX Pop this summer. They are always full of energy and jamz. Inside Voices is a band that I feel could make it big. They have my favorite drummer in town and a really good set of songs. The show is $13-$15 and starts at 9 PM.

Branx is having a show with Lovers, Nolita, Yurr Momm, DJ Chelsea Starr, Freddie Fagula, and Gottesfinger. Basically it goes like this, I think that Lovers put out one of the best local records this year. It is a nice blend of electro-pop and good singer songwriter is songs. Kinda like how the blow managed to saddle both of those inclinations. The first track on that album, Igloos for Ojos, was probably my number one jam of the year. The show is

Holocene is having a show with Reporter, Guidance Counselor, DJ Beyonda, and DJ Moon Poncho, and Linger & Quiet. Dance Party! These are hands down some of the best dance music made by bands Portland has to offer. The show is $10 the show is 8 PM.

Laurelthirst is having Two Beers Veirs featuring Colin Meloy, Derrin Craig, Lewi Longmire, and Maggie Lind. Have you heard the new Laura Veirs? It is pretty good. Looks like she has a load of friends helping out. This will probably be packed, but oh so good. The show is $20 and 9:30 PM.

The Mission Theater is having Weinland and The Dimes Weinland is usually a really good Americana Folk Rock band. Tonight however, they will be transformed into a dance band with many local musicians taking turns at being the lead singer. Basically it follows the form of the current Karaoke obsession that Portland seems to have. It will most likely be buttloads of fun. The Dimes will probably stick to being the really mice folk rock outfit that they can be depended on being. The show $12-$15 and starts at 9 PM.

Lavish Vegan Buffet is having a show with Alyosha (Japan!), Mustaphamond, Ochre, and Duck Little Brother, Duck!. I know absolutely nothing about the majority of these bands. I do know that Duck Little Brother, Duck! is one bad ass band. They play a pretty unique brand of super fast math pop. If you want them to love you, tell them that they remind you of Dilute. The show is by Donation

Radio Room is having Boy Eats Drum Machine play. BEDM is very unique in his sound which is to me a very delicate balance of a lot of influences. He is pop music but he also incorporates some hip hop aesthetic in the way of sampled beats and some lite scratching. He also plays the sax bringing another element that is not abundant in the local scene (Dirty Mittens and Don Helions excluded). The coolest part is that he is doing a very impreesive one man band thing inculding the turntable and sax and looping and singing all the while. The show is FREE and starts at 9 PM.

Ground Kontrol is having Blast to the Future party with Copy, DJ BJ, and DJ Roxy Expoxy. Another Dance Party! This one does not appear to have any bands, but Copy is kinda live. I mean he plays a mean keytar. Copy is one of my favorite Portland Dance artists. Always a blast with that guy. The show is $15 and starts at 5 PM.

If you see me at these shows please say, "Hi". And then wish me a new year and then help me make a resolution to actually go to all of these shows that I write about.


Okay so The Who will not be playing, but Quasi will be playing The Who . And The Shaky Hands are playing the show too. So of course I put up this video.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Ben Meyercord's Live Music Picks for Wednesday, December 30th

Hello Dear Readers,

Snow is awesome. It is is nice and white and has a knack for making things look pure. What is not to like? I suppose the fact that it has to get really cold for it to occur? But that seems a minor price for the existence of a winter wonderland. Yeah the real problem is that it makes roads very hard to maneuver. Especially in a town that is not used to being touched by snow, PORTLAND. Anyway, it made me loose all desire to trek over to Valentines. And now in the morning light where I see our winter wonderland has become very ugly landscape covered in filthy sludge I feel a deep sense of regret. I really wanted to see Root Beer and French Fry. Damn. Tonight I think I will be out there though. There are some really good things going on. See:

Wednesday, December 30th

Laurelthirst is having a show with Nick Jaina. This is an early show which can be a good thing or a bad thing. On the one hand it is early enough that you will be able to catch a show and not be completely spent afterwards (unless of course you take full advantage of the happy hour prices). This means you can rest up for your New Years Eve festivities tomorrow. Or if you are like me, you might see an early show as an opportunity to catch more than one show. Which might lead to exhaustion at the second or, if you are truly daring, third show. Either way this is an amazing thing to have somebody of the caliber of Nick Jaina (namely Nick Jaina) playing to you for FREE. I like what Seattle Weekly said in regards to him and his band. "The blend of clarinets, trumpet, violin, keyboards, random percussion and guitar sounds like the anthems made for the most glorious hobo nation on Earth–sort of Tom Waits playing at a kangaroo carnival, with brief interruptions for the funeral of Paul Simon and Elvis Perkins." The show is FREE and starts at 6 PM.

Mississippi Studios is having a "Holidang" with BOAT (Seattle), The Black Whales (Seattle), Typhoon, Ritchie Young, and The Riot Act Wrecking Crew. Speaking of high caliber FREE shows, did you just read the line up I just typed? I love me the pop that comes from BOAT. I love it. They are good guys to boot. While to be fair I only have a 7" by them , I listen to it all the time (or at least the digital files that came with the 7"). Then Typhoon. They are one of the best bands in this town of really good bands. They make folk rock, a traditionally quiet genre, that is huge. It truly is epic. How many other folk rock bands do you know with two drummers and a percusissionist. None. That's how many. And then there is Loch Lommond front man Ritchie Young. It is bananas that he is as good by himself as he is with his excellent band. It boils down to that very distinct voice that he posses'. The sucker is FREE but will accept donations for Multiple Sclerosis research. The event starts at 8 PM.

Ellas Street Social Club is having a show with Oh Captain My Captain, Jen Moon, Lovely Houses (Inianapolis,IN), and Ross McLeron. This is a really good show too. Man, what to do. Oh Captain My Captain sound to me like a mix of Pedro the Lion and Dr. Dog. Which is a really good combination, whether you or not you think so. You are going to have to trust me on this one. They are great. Plus a couple of their members also play in Jen Moon. Jen Moon is a project headed by a woman named Jen Moon and her keyboards. Her music is music is a bit on the darker side of things a lot of minor pianos and such. Though she doesn't sound like Shannon Wright, I feel comfortable using her as touching point. The show is $5 and starts at 9 PM.

Doug Fir is having a show with Shoeshine Blue, Justin Power, and The Lower 48. This is a nice showcase of some of the folk pop that is going on here in Portland. Shoeshine Blue has been the subject of many of many of my posts. This is the first time he is headlining the Doug Fir. It is nice to see people getting the attention I feel they deserve. Justin Power has started getting some attention due in large part to his contribution of Portland Cello Project's last album which showcased several of his songs. I think he is a great songwriter and deserves any attention he gets. The Lower 48 are a pretty young four piece that just relocated from Minneapolis. They play folk pop the uses well crafted female/ male harmonies and traditional folk elements like acoustic guitars, mandolins, brushed drums and such. They sound pretty promising. The show is $5 and starts at 9 PM.

If you see me at these shows please say, "Hi". And then you can do with the rest of the night what you will.


Catch the Typhoon at Mississippi Studios tonight.

How do you smell so good?

Those of you that do, at any rate. And I have walked next to you, and VA VA VOOM do you smell good. What is your secret?

So, you may be figuring out that this is not really a post about local music, or music at all. I think it's important, though, and our discerning group of bloggers and readers are the ones who need to discuss this topic. What are you wearing to smell good? Cologne? Aftershave? Perfume? Essential oils? Soap? Bacon? Or are you rejecting this notion of 'good' and trying something like Axe or the garlic you ate two days ago? Are there any ladies who are trying out the fascinating secret gambit of the cassoulette?

Now, I have been criticized in the past on the topic of fashion, and I promise I will not make fun of anyone's weight. And by the time this post is over I PROMISE you will be able to make fun of me for smelling (or wanting to smell) like any number of old and/or dead people.

This topic has always been overwhelming to me, as it is I think to most people because of the negative stereotypse associated with the overuse of fragrance and the mountain of presumed product variety, which potentially may be the same as the confusing varietals of wine and all that goes along with it. (And on that subject, may I say that while different wine types do taste different, syrah vs. pinot noir, etc., when it comes to testing individual wines YOU ARE BEING HYPNOTIZED by the wine hosts. "This one has light notes of hazelnut and berries. THis one a rich smoke and undercurrent of currant and pepper..." No it doesn't. IT'S THE SAME SHIT.) Going online doesn't help much either. You get a lot of ads, and a lot of websites that throw both unhelpful product names and even more unhelpful descriptive terms a la the aforementioned wine. Plus contradictions. Spray a lot on yourself? Or spray a little? Damn.

One overall theme I found(and I am speaking about men's fragrance now, because that's really only what I was looking at) was that the 'cologne mentoring' available online seems to assume you are about to non-ironically perform one of the following activities:

1. Throw the pigskin around with your Aryan buddies
2. Straighten your power tie before the big meeting
3. Attend a formal dinner party
4. Go to the hottest new club to score some bitches
5. Jump from your boat to do some other thing that will help you desperately pretend you're not an asshole

It's frustrating. Maybe they're talking to a majority of fragrance buyers out there, but they're not talking to me. They're not talking to dudes who write postmodern fantasy fiction, listen to both Neu!, Fever Ray, and Morrissey (who wears the same cologne as Ozzy, incidentally), and whose idea of 'scoring bitches' is probably watching a Christopher Guest movie.

It takes a little digging, but there are resources out there that are a little more neutral, and vastly more helpful. Basenotes is a completist database of pretty much ever fragrance out there, searchable by name, descriptor, and manufacturer. It also includes a wide variety of comments from both lovers and haters of all the fragrances, so there are relatively balanced viewpoints. Another, and this may be more valuable to those of us who are looking for a classy or retro aspect, is Perfumeshrine, which lists celebrities and historical figures, and the fragrances they wore. This is fascinating. Really really cool.

Now that those fun facts are out there in the wide world, I still want to know what the intrepid reader thinks about the whole thing, and what they are doing personally. Maybe someone can start a site that helps us indie folk with our potential desire to sniffgood- and I view such things as the Ed Hardy 'tattoo' fragrances crass commercial cash-ins. Blah. To kick things off, here's where I am.

I got a little sampler for Christmas. In the sampler was some Paul Sebastian, and it smelled like my grandpa, which I liked. So, I tried it on. I realized, that with my pompadour and old school glasses and jowls, I look like him too. Now all I need is to smoke a pipe. That's pretty cool, but I don't think I'll stick to the scent. I've always been a big fan of Caswell-Massey's stuff, not just because they smell good, but because of the history. They've been making scents in America since 1752. Holy fuck! Their No. 6, still in production, was a favorite of George Washington, who would give crates of it as gifts. Other Caswell-Massey fans include Errol Flynn, John Adams, Humphrey Bogart, John Barrymore, Judy Garland, Dwight Eisenhower, Sarah Bernhard, Cole Porter, George Gershwin, and John Kennedy. That's a list to be proud of. Not too many living celebs on that list (I deliberately left of Hilary Clinton), so maybe I can start a renaissance.

So let's hear it, folks! How do you smell so good?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Ben Meyercord's Live Music Picks for Tuesday, December 29th

Hello Dear Readers,

No shows last night, and only one show tonight. Portland, what is up? I know I know. You are getting ready for the end of the year blow out(s). Redgardless, there is one show that looks to be good.

Tuesday, December 29th

Valentine's is having a show with Root Beer and French Fry. Oh Valentine's. How I love that you have music when no one else has the balls to. You seem to always have cool or at least interesting bands. Tonight you have a cool and interesting band that is fun to boot. Root Beer and French Fry are a band that I have been meaning to check out for well over a year. In my defense, they have only played one show this year to my knowledge. They are an instrumental pop group. I would say they are an electro-pop group but I am not sure. They only have three songs on their myspace. All of the songs are pretty upbeat and use a lot of keys synthetic and otherwise. Andy Parker the drummer is a popular man amongst bands. He plays for or has played for Dirty Mittens, Old Believers/Congratulations, Eliot Rose, Gatos, and probably others. He is one of the most solid drummers in Portland and a pleasure to watch. But some of the songs also have that beloved instrument we know as the guitar. It is sounds good. I remember when I first wrote about the band many moons ago based on their name. I thought, "what a silly name, I must write about them". I will be honest I didn't listen to them unitl afterwards and then I was like "Damn, what a good sounding band". The show will be FREE and start at 9 PM.

If you see me at this shows please say, "Hi". I will be the one adding a little shake to the Root Beer and French Fry.


This is the only video I could find that is Root Beer and French Fry related.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Ben Meyercord's Live Music Picks for Monday, December 28th

Hello Dear Readers,

I am back in Portland! But Guess what. There are no shows that I am interested in tonight. Nutz. I have looked and there are quite a few good shows in the coming days though. Keep an eye out here on the blog for those.

In the meantime, I just saw this video posted today. I like Wampire and have written up theur shows several times. This video is special because a) I have never seen them play as a trio and b) I have never seen them play with drums.

Wampire from TERROREYES.TV on Vimeo.

So have a good day and I will chat at you later,


Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Look, I get it.

Portland isn't New York. It isn't even Miami. We're known more for our tight pants hipstering and girlfriend-stabs-you weepo than we are for any more beefy genres. But we really do love our hardcore punk. And we love our metal. Not only that, but we love our hardcore/metal crossover, and since a lot of us are tight pants hipsters or overthinking critics, we love expatriates from same. So when a veteran of those genres disappears from the scene, and resurfaces years later as the founding member of an oldschool garage rock n' soul band, The New Evils, and head of SoundCo records, it just tickles our tattooed Morrissey-and-Johnny Cash listening hearts. Of course I'm talking about former Prong singer/bassist Mike Kirkland! And yes, I interviewed him!

After a minor misunderstanding involving a hobbit that almost scuttled the whole deal, we proceeded directly into


JESS: I know a lot of the early ground has been covered before, but I have to say I love the sound of things like "This House" from your Damage years.

MIKE: The only reason that I was a part of a “hardcore band” was because my close friends were all in favor of starting a band with that sound. I kinda just added to it on the edges here and there. I suppose my influence made Damage’s sound less typical than the other bands barking up that same tree. Steve Mcallister and I had wide interests so we mixed things up when we could.

Was there a conscious intent to bridge the Manchfester sound with the NYHC?

I suppose that there was some unconscious meddling going on. I liked the Smiths, Joy Division, The Fall etc...

It was a sound that worked- and I assume you were trying to develop it through the Prong years on some of the less 'metal' tracks.

When I quit Damage, there were a handful of songs that I had written that carried over and became the first songs that Prong rehearsed and arranged. With Prong, it was just Tommy and I at first. I played bass and drums on the rehearsal demos. He quickly wrote a few tunes to fill-out the set. A few months later with the addition of Ted Parsons on drums those songs became the Primitive Origins mini LP.

Do you think the two bass player setup was copped by some other NYC acts? CopShootCop... I'm looking right at you!


Now, one question that's been bugging me forEVER. Like, since 1993 forever. What is with the sound quality of the early Prong releases? Was that an intentional lo-fi approach?

I can’t say why early Prong recordings sound the way they do other than everything we did was done very quickly, there wasn’t any time spent re-working, re-recording, re-mixing or looking back. Everything was done fast and as cheap as possible. We were just scraping along. We just wanted to get our recordings finished and pressed and get on the the next one.

For the longest time I thought my tape of "Primitive Origins" was defective, because of the sound and the weird warbling in "Persecution," which is one of the best tracks on there.

The song “Persecution” is one of the songs that I wrote pre-Prong. I thought it was one of the best I had to offer at the time. Tommy named it unfortunately.

I contrast the first two with "The Peel Sessions" and "Beg To Differ."

The Peel Sessions and Beg to Differ are recordings made in state-of-the-art studios with two or more engineers in the control room. German mics! Expensive mixing consoles, tube compressors, quality pre-amps, etc....

What are your thoughts on the aesthetic choices that went into that clean sound?

Our angle was to create a stripped-down riff machine. I think it was a mixture of Ted’s influence from playing drums in the band Swans and mixing that primal machine beat with hardcore and metal.

There was something about 1989 in metal (well 88-90, but I average it) that was unique. There were so many intense and powerful albums- it's tempting to say watershed. "And Justice For All," "Nothingface," "Persistence Of Time"... even "Pump" and "Dr. Feelgood." Then of course "Beg To Differ." But they're all characterized by a sound that's very clean and clinical. Sometimes it's even characterized as sterile by reviewers. Did you feel something during that time, since you were in the thick of it?

We worked on the sound in our own little bubble of sorts. Other bands approached the same territory but they got there from a different path than ours. I personally had issues with the precision fanaticism. I felt it stripped away the “feel” at times. Clinical doesn’t really appeal to me unless you’re Devo or Kraftwerk.

Last NY era question. Sheer Terror, badass live?

When it comes to NYHC, the early “Blake era” Sheer Terror was my favorite. Like a big loose fuckin’ monster.

I never got to see them. I went to see their last concert here in PDX before they broke up, but it was cancelled because I was one of the only people to show up, and I was too young to go hang out with them in the bar. So... SoundCo. How much of that is you?

Soundco. Well, Soundco came about as a outlet for a couple of musicians that landed on my doorstep. I did it primarily for Bob Moss. He’s an old friend from High school and I felt that his talent was under-appreciated. I decided to help write and produce songs for him. I probably co-wrote a dozen or more songs with Bob. It was a fun diversion from what I’d been doing musically in previous bands. I’ve always been a big fan of American and English folk music, folk-blues and country. Stuff like Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, Fred Neil, Billy Bragg, Ewan McColl, Bert Jansch, John Lee Hooker, Jimmy Reed and the like. Bob Moss and I wrote the majority of his first release way back in about 1995. The recording is called Tragic Tales from the West. It was released by a friend of Bob’s but it’s out of print. I think “Tragic Tales” is some of the best work I’ve done musically.

Did it expand from there?

Initially Soundco was just a moniker to make Bob Moss’s recordings available. I never looked for artists to release but a few just sort-of showed up. When my neighbor Nate Padley (Monster of Vision) asked to be on the label I said sure, why not? The was same was true for local record-store clerk George St. John. Recently George has put together a very cool electric duo called “Doctor and the Bird”. If you're in the Seattle area check them out. The Soundco label is now defunct. Lack of funds and interest.

Those Morrison boys seem like trouble. How are you guys as a songwriting unit?

I love working with them. These boys are like a massive secret gold mine that just don’t wanna give up it’s treasure. When you finally get there, you gotta dig and dig and dig some more. It’s real good gold though. It’s always is worth the sweat. Remember to bring a pick and shovel.

The new stuff sounds very spacious. Tell me about your recording setup- are you an analog head, or has the brave new world swallowed you up?

Love analog, I’ve settled for digital.

There was a New Evils song on a soundtrack from the last album, right? Do you welcome that sort of opportunity, or is it a hassle?

Jonny Polonsky asked us if we’d contibute a New Evils song (the Drifter) to a score he was working on for Sleeping Dogs Lie (a short film starring Brad Wilk and Maynard James Keenan of Tool & Puscifer). We were happy to be involved.

I know you were a bass player for the longest time. Do you still identify that as an 'A' instrument, or have you diversified?

Honestly, I’m a crappy bass player. The Bass is a very finesse-y instrument. It takes a certain mindset, one that I’m lacking. These days I’m the most comfortable just banging out rhythm on guitar. I play drums on my own demos.

Once this new disc is out, are you going to drag the crew on the road?

Yeah, I want to drag the New Evils out into the public eye. It wasn’t possible before when the band was just me and the Morrisons. The new record includes new members! Aldine Strychnine (or Al Gossi as he is known, formally a member of Poison Idea) is playing lead guitar and Leif Myrberg is playing drums. Both Leif and Aldine have been great to work with. Our problem is getting everyone in the same location. Leif lives in Portland, Denny’s in NYC, the rest of us are in Salt Lake.

I am hinting that you should come to Portland. We like that low-down sound. It gets around. What are your other plans now?

I’m planning on releasing a batch of my un-released songs. Not sure what to call it. I’ll be asking some local talent, Aldine, Brad Wheeler, Greg Midgley and others to fill it out, hopefully they’ll come on board. Also, Aldine, Bad Brad Wheeler and I are currently working on a recording project that should see the light of day in early 2010.

Let me know if you cats come to PDX. We'll have a cee-gar despite my doctor warning me that I'll stroke out. Fuck him.

Thanks Jess, it was fun.

MIKE KIRKLAND (L) with the Morrison bros
trying to set vinyl on fire with their minds

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Ben Meyercord's Live Music Picks for Sunday, December 20th

Hello Dear Readers,

Last night I played the Blitz in the Pearl. I knew that this was not going to be my normal crowd. Quite Honestly I did not expect there to be any crowd. But what I forgot was that there was the Santa Con thing last night. So there were plenty of people. But they were all drunk and in Santa attire. There was one Santa who propped up a baby doll that looked creepy next to me. He then started taking pictures of me playing with the creepy doll in frame. Scott from Super XX Man played a great set. He played two new songs that were on par with his other great ones. The best part for me was that he actually read the blog yesterday and played my favorite song by him. Score. Anyway I will be out of town for a bit. Holidays! So this is the last entry for a week. Please check out Anyway here are the show that look good to me tonight:

Sunday, December 19th

Rontoms is having a show is having a show with Panther and Patterns. So I have written about Panther many times. I like what they do. But this is the last time. This is their last show. The break up is not ugly but the two have plans for other musical pastures. Their last record had a lot of piano on it so I would not be surprised to see the instrument make an appearance. Patterns makes really cool pop music with cool break downs and a nice use of keyboards. The show is FREE and starts at 9 PM.

Mississippi Studios of is having a show with The Cave Singers (Seattle), Haley Bonar, and Fences (Seattle). I have seen the Cave Singers a handful of times and I think they are great. The lead singers voice is very raspy and he kind of reminds me of a old man voice but mixed with the foot stomp inducing mix of blues folk and whatever else it is a perfect fit. Haley Bonar is a relatively new addition to the Portland scene. She made her start in the Midwest but seems like she should be West coast. Her music is poppy but has firm roots in Americana. I have only seen her once and it was solo. Her songs were good but I could see so much potential with the backing of a band. If you listen to her myspace you see that she does use a full band in her recordings that sound pretty good. I like them. Fences is kinda blowing up in Seattle and it is easy to see why. He writes really good folk pop music. He is like a tattooed Blind Pilot. I am stoked that Y La Bamba will be playing a couple dates with him early next year. The show is $12 and starts at 9 PM.


Haley Bonar will play her sweet music at Mississippi Studios.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Ben Meyercord's Live Music Picks for Saturday, December 19th

Hello Dear Readers,

Last night I was totally going to go out. But then I got called into work and then I had a practice. And then I was exhausted and I decided to go Holiday shopping instead which I also managed to not do. Then this morning I was running late for work and forgot my wallet and phone. Then when I got to work I locked my keys int the vehicle. It has been kinda ridiculous. But tonight I have promised myself to have some fun (that is code for going to see a show). These are the shows that look good to me:

Saturday, December 19th

Blitz is having a show with Super XX Man and Meyercord. Super XX Man is a group or guy or whatever that I have been listening to for a long time. I remember seeing his old band, Silver Scooter, open up for Death Cab For Cutie on the Photo Album tour. His songs are often very personal and sweet. There is this one song called "Gargage Apartment" That I have had stuck in my head probably more than any song ever. I am excited to be playing a show with him. Oh, umm...yeah Meyercord is me. I usually have a band behind me, but they up and left (for the holidays). So tonight I will be playing a rare solo set. I think the songs are strong enough ot stand on their own. I always write the songs with out a band so they should work. The show is FREE and starts at 7 PM.

Mississippi Studios is having a show with Climber, Derby, and Blue Skies for Black Hearts. This is a show for fans of indie pop-rock. Power pop? Whatever it is, it is catchy and very melodic. The show is $10 and starts at 9 P

Aladdin Theater is having Live Wire! with John Darnielle, Nurses, and Ralph Huntley & The Mutton Chops. Live Wire! is a crazy mash up of comedy, interviews, music, and fun. Y la Bamba did one a few months ago and it was a blast. This time round they have John from The Mountain Goats. Everyone knows that John Darnielle is an awesome songwriter. Come see what he has to say for himself. Also Nurses will play. They are one of my favorites here in Portland and actually put out one of my favorite records of 2009, Apples Acres. I saw them play recently at Berbati's and they were playing some new material. Nice. The ALL AGES show is $20-$30 and starts at 8 PM.

Doug Fir is having a show with Portugal. The Man, and Jared Mees & The Grown Children. Yesterday I mentioned that Portugal. The Man sound different on every album. I stand behind that statement, but I do want to note that it seems to be a pretty natural progression. I listened to bits of all of their albums in order from their beginnings to their last album and you can see them gradually go from weird cool rock music to soft pop music. And I again I want to stress that it is good soft pop music that they play. Jared Mees is one of my favorite bands to see live. Their energy is high and positive. I always find myself dancing and singing and smiling at their shows. I cannot get enough. The show is $12 and starts at 9 PM.

Mississippi Pizza is having a show with Dr. Something & The Poppin' Fresh Love Engines and Pokey Twig & The Yuletide Kindling. You may know Dr. Something from blogging here at CIMTB, but did you know that she also has a band and that it is playing tonight? Of course you did. She sings about robots in and out of love and the like. And tonight there is a holiday theme. I can promise you that it will be a fun and lively show. The show is FREE and starts at 6 PM.


Sorry I couldn't find a shorter video, but yeah. This is what you can expect Super XX Man to sound like tonight.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The "Grouper Christmas Album" Petition

Yes, that photo is doctored. I don't know that Liz Harris has ever worn a Santa hat onstage in her life, much less one that sports a Guinness logo.

Sometimes a strange opportunity comes along, and you just have to go with it. When the esteemed Dr. Something asked her question of the week, namely which Portland band should come up with a presumably unlikely Christmas album. I decided that the candidate should be Grouper, and judging by the comments, most of us seem to be in agreement. That's a matter of public record.

Now, in these same comments I made reference to a principle that my former bandmate Raoul Fish discovered, whereby any song can be made into a Christmas song by simply adding sleigh bells. Let's call this Raoul's Rule- yet another principle that I have (for better or worse) decided to name, such as Martling's Law of Comedy and Gulbranson's Canyon. Ask me about those sometime. Back to the sleighbells, though. If we have a chance in hell of getting the lovely Ms. Harris to kneel before our collective Zod and put out a Grouper Christmas Album, then we need proof of concept. Well, kids, here it is. And if you thought that no one could take a Grouper track and abuse it with further reverb, then you stand corrected!

And of course, since I can't resist, there's a little surprise at the end. Just for you, Dr.! I hope everyone out there in blogland is just full of the Christmas spirit now. I would like for us to pull together and do something amazing... with our powers combined, compel Grouper to put out the Christmas Album to end all Christmas Albums. So blogger and readers, rockers and critics, human beings and members of the Dandy Warhols, let's team up for this worthy cause and put the word out. Liz Harris, we need you.

With bells on!!!

Ben Meyercord's Live Music Picks for Friday, December 18th

Hello Dear Readers,

Last night, I did not see any shows. I did my chilling in Hillsboro gig. Aka house sitting. It was pretty chill. As one might expect. But I feel like I probably missed out on some good shows. Please let me know about them

Friday, December 18th

The Woods is having a show with . Portugal. The Man is a band I don't understand. I mean all of their music is pretty cool. But they do whatever they want. Their discography is not consistent. In a good way. World's Greatest Ghost is one of my favorite bands in Portland. They make music that is danceable and catchy and awesome and nerdy and so good. I love the guitarmonies and the keyboards and everything. I love it. The show is $12 and starts at 10 PM.

Someday Lounge is having a show benefiting something called Project Casamance with Nick Jaina, Autopilot is For Lovers, and Dragging an Ox Through Water, and
Rasheeda Ameera. This is seems like a good cause. It seems like a good bill. Like a really good bill. Let me break it down: Nick Jaina - Good. Autopilot - Good. Dragging an Ox Through Water - Good. Rasheeda Ameera - Not heard of. But seriously check out this show. Dragging An Ox Through Water is so good. He doesn't play as much as he should. I still need to pick up his last album. The show is $7-$10 and starts at 9 PM.

Backspace is having a show with The Rural Alberta Atvantage (Toronto), Blunt Mechanic(Seattle), Monarques, and Kim De Lacy. The Rural Advantage is a band that I find immediately likable. I heard and instantly wanted to listen to it again. Very infectious. Blunt Mechanic is the new band of Ben Barnett of Kind of Like Spitting. I really have always like Kind of Like Spitting, so I am assuming that I will like this new band as well. Monarques is a pop band that Josh Spacek formed when he left Oh Captain My Captain. It sounds like a slightly updated version of Grease. In a good way. They are a lot of fun. The show is $8-$10 and starts at 9 PM.


Folk experimentation at its finest. Dragging An Ox Through Water plays tonight at Someday Lounge.

Sparkle Girl reviews Dick Dale, KING OF THE SURF GUITAR!!!

Hello, it is I, your humblest translator. There were some technical difficulties, otherwise this would have been Sparkle Girl's first solo post, so I will again function as trance medium, summoning her ebullient reviews from the otherworld that is Craigslist! Thanks, Michele, I love this stuff. You rock!

Well folks, last night I went to see Dick Dale. I have been wanting to see him for quite the many years and finally got my head out of my spleen to do it. The evening began with me filing in right on time, if not early, to get a good spot in front of the stage. Luckily when I got there everyone was sipping cocktails at the tables, so getting a spot was no problem (thank you rock gods). The show started with a retro band called Tana and The Fascinators. From the first two chords the guitar player strummed I knew they were going to be good. Their style was neo-40's with a tattoo touch of class, making them Portland perfect. They dressed in period clothes, to a t, and looked sharp doing it. Tana the songstress opened her set with the French classic "cou cou"(i will admit i was notably impressed, as I speak French fluently and her accent wasn't too bad). Rounding out her set were other such classic jazz standards as "dir mir bis du chein"(please forgive the spelling), an instrumental version of "life is a cabaret" and finishing off with "it aint what you do." Tana and The Fascinators is the kind of band you would have at an upscale wedding, only Tana is so beautiful she would upstage the bride. Maybe you could see her perform in some sweet ‘hole in the wall’ jazz club, under a bridge, in some seedy dusty neighborhood, after a steamy rain in mid-November… ooops, I got carried away, but then The Fascinators are like that. They transport you to another time. Ya know, I almost expected to see gangsters in the corner, wearing fine striped suits, sipping umbrella-ed cocktails, and two tough guys named Tony , making sure the boss has what he wants… did I get carried away again??? Yeah, I know. And then… then … the fabulous Dick Dale came out and spanked everyone. He was awesome, telling crowd shouters to "shut up", stopping songs in the middle to hear a fan’s question. Yeah, his guitar strap was made out of a car seat belt. I see why… you had better buckle up, 'cause Dick Dale is about to drive this show 90 miles an hour. No wah pedals. No delay pedals. No flange or chorus pedals, no effects of any kind. He just came out and shredded that gold sparkle guitar like he was giving the crowd cool lessons, plain and simple. It was obvious his knowledge of chord placement was excellent, as he improvised about half his set, and the drummer and bass player payed very close attention to what Dick was going to do next so as to not mess up too much. He played medleys of great guitar songs such as “Batman” and the 007 theme song. He even came out and did a very good impersonation of Mr. Armstrong, playing the trumpet and everything, and very well I might add, not to mention playing the harmonica as well. Yes, the evening rocked on overtime without a hitch. On top of all that Mr. Dale sat at the merch table taking all the fans in turn, to sign autographs and drop pearls of wisdom on eager ears, one by one. Yeah man, I got mine. Thank you, Mr. Dale, your next visit is anxiously awaited. Portland thinks you rock, and so do I ,,,,,,,,,,,,,sparkle girl...............,

See what I mean? Awesome. Let's hope these keep coming. And on a personal note I realize I have been a bit deficient in my own posting. Hopefully I can remedy that with some new stuff over the weekend, and especially my interview with Mike Kirkland- NYHC veteran, founding bass player of seminal metal band Prong, and now Soundco Records guru and member of The New Evils. It's going to rock!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Question of the Week: X-mas Album

Hi folks!

Another week has passed; another question must be posed.

ChristmasChristmasChristmas... OMG it's almost XXXmas!!!!!!

So I ask of you, what Portland band would you most want to make a x-mas album? I think I'm gonna choose Here Comes a Big Black Cloud. I see baby Jesus emerging from the womb amid a clatter of feedback and other worldly theramin warbling. Santa dies and returns as an undead monster.

This album would have to be performed live in its entirety on Christmas eve, a Midnight mass. Mass chaos.

Ben Meyercord's Live Music Picks for Thursday, December 17th

Hello Dear Readers,

Last night I played a show with Y La Bamba and it was super fun. Bryan Free started the show with pretty songs he played solo on the piano. Then came Leonard Mynx and his band. It was one of the best bands that Leonard has put together (he usually puts together a new band every show). Then we played. It felt really good. We tried something new, which is making a set list and sticking to it. It worked really well. Plus we played a song that Luz Elena had written the night before. We made a rudimentary arrangement and surprisingly it worked out. But enough about me, let's talk about

Thursday, December 17th

Holocene is having a Flight 64 Benefit called Prin Tit with Jizz Wizard, Lifesyles, Sex Life, The Singing Knives, Bigjoy, Sharon is Karen, and Dorian - Deau Bird. Flight 64 is not a tragic place crash or anything. It is actually a nonprofit art gallery on Alberta. Jizz Wizard is industrial dance music. Lifestyles used to be called Leather Tom and the Dirty Dudes. They make really awesome disco music. Actually all of these groups are good for dancing to. The show is $5-$10 and starts at 6 PM.

The Woods is having the Portland Round with Tahoe Jackson, Mike Coykendall, and Dlux Light. Tahoe is an amazing soul singer. Mike Coykendall is a underrated folk-rock person. DLux I believe is a hip-hop/soul guy. This is a really diverse bill. If they play on each others songs as some rounds do, it will be bananas. The show is $8 and starts at 9 PM.

Mississippi Studios is having a show with Rollerball, The Golden Bears, and Arch Cape. Rollerball is an art rock band that is amazing that is big in Europe but not so big over here. That might change if you go out and see them. The Golden Bears is a band based around the girl/boy duo of Julianna Bright and Seth Major. They have been in several bands together and have developed quite a musical chemistry. The songs range from full out rockers to quiet numbers. All of which are pretty good. I have yet to see them. The Show is $8 and starts at 9 PM.

Rotture is having a show with Soft Tags, Massive Moth, and Symmetry/Symmetry. Soft Tags are something special. It seems that every couple of months they are putiing out a new CD. They are totally DIY. Tonight they are releasing a double lp entitled "Mathematical Monsters" . I am not sure if it will be on wax (probably not, as it is extremely expensive and they pride themselves on not spending much money). You should check out their epic Lo-fi jamz. I am a fan. I went to listen to Symmetry/Symmetry and was very surprised to hear some very awesome Christmas songs done really well check it out if you like Christmas songs. I must admit I am a sucker for Christmas music (one of the many perks of not working retail). The show is $5 and starts at 9 PM.

Alberta Street Pub is having a show with Jake Kelly, Brian Rozendal, and John Vecchiarelli. Jake Kelly vaguely reminds me of Johnny Cash. Not completely but he has a very strong old school country kind of voice. The recordings I heard were very minimal but impressed me. I actually met Brian Rezendal at a Meyercord show. We talked about how we both had bands that were named after our last names. He like me, makes Acoustic Folk rock or whatever and has people backing him. But he has a lot more instruments going on, like piano, cello, and a drummer. Which means that he has an actual band, while I have a project that I dearly love (but maybe not a band). John Vecchiarelli is the drummer for many bands. But his solo thing is pretty good and you should check it out. Think soft indie folk. This is what KPSU said, "8 songs of quiet brilliance. John's newest songs flip the same emotional switches for me as artists such as Elliott Smith and Red House Painters, but do so without sounding derived from them at all.". I agree. The show is FREE? and starts at 9 PM.
If you see me at these shows please say, "Hi".


Rollerball is playing at Mississippi Studios. Neat.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Ben Meyercord's Live Music Picks for Wednesday, December 16th

Hello Dear Readers,

I was practicing when The Mean Jeans were set to play yesterday evening so instead I saw no music last night . Oh well. There is plenty of shows to feast your eyes and ears on tonight:

Wednesday, December 16th

Mississippi Studios is having a show with Y La Bamba, Leonard Mynx, and Bryan Free & The Doxyhaunts. Yeah I am in the headlining band. I make no apologies. I think that we are pretty good. We don't fall into any easy categories, though I guess folk=pop is the the one that comes closest to containing it. There are many harmonies and accordion and nods to many music styles. Plus Luz Elena our lead singer has one of the best voices in Portland. Hands down. If you have read this blog from a long time you would know that I was a fan long before there even was a band. Also if you read this here blog, you know that I think Leonard Mynx is a helluva songwriter. I ran into a certain member of WWeek the other night and he told me that his new record, Le Petit Mort, sounds really good. I believe there will be special CDs available at the show tonight. And then I would be remiss is I didn't mention that it is a CD release show for Bryan Free & The Doxyhaunts. I have a split CD that Bryan Free did with Day of Lions a looong time ago. I have not really heard anything from him since then. The show is $8 and starts at 9 PM.

Doug Fir is having a show 1776, The Hugs, Derby, and Motopony. This is a good show if'n you like power pop. Or pop-rock. Or just plain o'l pop. The show is $7 and starts at 9 PM.

Ella Street Social Club is having a show with Afternoon Brother, Neal Morgan, and Hexlove. I have written several times about both Neal Morgan and Hexlove, and yet have not been able to see them. So dumb. Neal Morgan does a thing where he drums and sings in a very compelling way. Look him up on youtube. It is cool stuff. Hexlove makes drone pop. Love it. The show is $5 and starts at 9 PM.

Laurelthirst is having a show with Nick Jaina. Nick Jaina seems kinda like a grumpy gus, but he writes some darn good songs and has an excellent band. I have yet to hear a record that he has recorded that I was not impressed with. I suggest that if you are free at happy hour time, you head over and check it out. The show is FREE and starts at 6 PM.

The Knife Shop is having a PDX Songwriters Showcase: Eric Jensen, Katy Sanford, Pat Kearns, Amanda Spring, Jeremy Wilson<.a>, and Adrienne Hatkin. Eric Jensen is Tractor Jensen. Katy Sanford is of the bandThe Jolenes. Pat Kearns is of the band Blue Skies for Black Hearts. Amanda Spring is of the bands ioa and Point Junture, WA. And Adrienne Hatkin is of the band Autopilot is For Lovers. This is a lot of people. And I like a lot of the bands that a lot of these people are in. The show, on the other hand, is $3 (not a lot of money) and starts at 8 PM.

Dunes is having a show with With Eyes Abstract, Carson McWhirter, Why I Must Be Careful. The show looks awesome. If you are into instrumental music, or experimental rock, or math-rock, or virtuoso guitar playing, or heavy music. We got your bases covered here. If I were not playing a show, this is where I'd be. The show is FREE? and starts at 9 PM.

If you see me at these shows please say, "Hi". Maybe you will like what will happen.


Why I Must Be Careful get all wanky jazz on you tonight at Dunes.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Ben Meyercord's Live Music Picks for Tuesday, December 15th

Hello Dear Readers,

Last night I saw that free show at Berbati's. I came directly from an AristeiA practice and missed the majority of The Woolen Men's set. Basically by the time I got a handle of what they were doing it was over. I was told that I missed out on the drummer's songs. They are one of those bands that has multiple songwriters. I guess I have to go see them again. Bodhi played a pretty solid set. I have not seen them in a long time. It was nice to see my friend Fin as an excellent addition to the band. He makes quite the multi-instrumentalist employing the use of guitar, keyboard, ring modulator, tambourine, and a floor tom. Over all, there was not as much weirdness of a Monday Night show that was thrown together last minute as there could have been. It was alright. By the by, I could only find one show that looked interesting to me today:

Tuesday, December 15th

The Burgerville at SE 12th and Hawthorne will be having a show with The Mean Jeans, TherapistS, The Cuntifiers (Tuscon), and Cowabunga Babes (Austin). Mean Jeans will be recording their set for an upcoming 7" cleverly entitled "Live @ Burgerville". I saw them recently and enjoyed their Ramones-esque punk rock. Did I mention it is in a freaking fast food joint? I would love to see the people that just happen in for a burger and then get blasted with punk rock. Yeah, I checked out the other bands and this is totally a punk rock show (that is not afraid of its pop side). Also it should be noted that two of the Cowabunga Babes are dudes, and that in addition to punk they have a wee bit of surf in them. I see surf music as the new thing. The Show is ALL AGES FREE and starts at 6 PM sharp.

If you see me at this show please say, "Hi". And give me some of your fries.


Imagine this while you order your fancy burger at Burgerville. "Das Was Sup"

Monday, December 14, 2009

Ben Meyercord's Live Music Picks for Monday, December 14th

Hello Dear Readers,

I was very close to going out. But then I went holiday shopping. I didn't buy anything but it still took it out of me. Plus I had to get some groceries which further exhausted me. And I knew that there is a show I wanted to see today:

Monday, December 14th

Berbati's is having Blue Horns play. Or that was the original plan. But then one of the guys in the band sliced a tendon rendering the band useless. Now Bohdi and The Woolen Men play. This is a pretty good consolation prize. Not only are the bands good, but there are two of them. Bodhi play rock music that touches on several genres (pop, garage, new wave, whatever) but ends up just sounding like Bodhi. There is plenty guitar and a boat load of keyboard hooks (I could have made some sort of fishing joke, but I respect you guys too much). Plus I have not seen them since my friend Padraic Finbar Haggerty-Hammond joined the group on keyboard and guitar. The Woolen Men are a band that I have been meaning to see for several months. They too are a rock band. Some bands I am reminded of are a mid 90's Sloan or Velvet Underground. I realize this may not narrow their sound down at all, but if you like either of those bands, maybe you will like this one too. The show is FREE and starts at 10 PM.

If you see me at this show please say, "Hi". Maybe you will like what will follow*.


*I make no promises as to what may follow.

Bodhi will be rocking tonight because they all of their tendons intact.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

MP3: David Shane Smith - "Tarmac"

A troubadour of old is transported into the overstimulation and isolation of the 21st century urban landscape. He is adept at learning to utilize modern technology to complement his lilting melodies. He is a shrewd observer of his current culture and surroundings. Inherent tension pervades his compositions, lushness and gauntness grate against each other as the medieval poet wraps his literary tendrils around the minimalist pulsations of the modern city.

This isn't David Shane Smith, but the fictional sci-fi/fantasy figure that creeps into my consciousness when listening to his songs. Simultaneously encompassing and defying conventions of folk, electronica and beat poetry, the music sounds fantastic and other worldly, but is most profound in its humanity.

"Tarmac" raises one's pulse, the beats are driving and frenetic, the vocals as insistent as they are mournful. Initially there's something incredibly chilling about it, inducing a sort of hypothermia of the soul, but soon the lines of the chorus repeat in warbling harmony and break into a cathartic burbling synth chord. There is something about the piece that causes the stomach to drop, that completely arrests the senses and emotions, something arresting and painfully honest.

David Shane Smith - Tarmac

David Shane Smith used to be a Portland musician and has subsequently ventured into the New York City and Los Angeles music scenes.

His latest release, Cloud Pleaser is available in hard copy and for immediate download on CD Baby.

Ben Meyercord's Live Music Picks for Sunday, December 13th

Hello Dear Readers,

Last night I had a lot of fun. Right after I got off of work I went over the the Rock N Shop. Which was cool. I was able to catch the Ramones=esque punk of The Mean Jeans and then a bit of the loud rock (not in a bad way) of The Ax. There were a lot of cool labels and other organizations representing. I talked to the PDX Pop Now people, the Tender Loving Empire People, The High Scores person, and The Gnar Tapes people. I would have talked to more but, I had to cut out to see the Typhoon, aan, and Nurses show. Man I am glad that I did. It was such a good show. I mean that line up is just, for lack of a better word, redonkulous. I talked to a few people who had not seen or heard Typhoon or aan. I was so excited for them. I talked to them afterwards and they were totally won over. I talked to a few people who had not seen or heard Typhoon or aan. I was so excited for them. I talked to them afterwards and they were totally won over. Typhoon filled the whole of the stage and played really well. This was the biggest venue I had seen them in. It was weird I am used to being all up next to them and it being louder. But it was still really cool. When I was talking to the Tender Loving Empire people earlier they let it slip that they were releasing the Typhoon full length next May. I can't wait. Then aan came on strong. This was also the biggest place that I had seen them. Their set was a roller coaster ride of soft numbers mixed in with louder jaunts that made people move. I loved it. Hopefully his next full length will be out next year as well, because there are a lot of songs they play that are not on the CD he currently has available. Then came every one's favorite Nurses they started off with a new song that I had not heard. It sounded good. Man I love those guys. They had the audience losing their collective bowels. Though it was cold outside I eventually got sweaty. It happens. I make no apologies. I wish all shows were this good. Anyway, here are some shows that caught my attention for tonight:

Sunday, December 13th

Rontoms is having Inside Voices and White Hinterland play a show. It seems like I have not heard from Inside Voices in a while. I was never able to pick up the CD they put out this year. Every time I saw them I was pretty broke. Thus I they didn't make my top list of 2009 because I am poor. I have not really listened to them recorded. But live I know that they are simply great. They meld several things to get a sound of their own. I really don't know how to describe it, but it is good. Plus there is White Hinterland. She and her cohort make music displays Casey Dienel's voice and songwriting ability. It is FREE and starts at 9 PM.

Valentine's is having a show with Benoit Pioulard, Foreign Orange, and < ahref="" target="_blank">Actual Birds (Ann Arbor). Benoit Pioulard is one of those artists that blurs the line between ambient and folk music. Kind of like Grouper. Though Benoit Pioulard leans towards the more structured song, but there are a lot of atmospheric elements that are pretty cool. TI can imagine him having a band, where I could never imagine Grouper having anyone backing her up. Foreign Orange is a indie-pop band with a slight touch of psychedelia. "ACTUAL BIRDS is the nom de guerre of Dustin Krcatovich, cartoonist/DJ/recording artist/Michiganian/record collector/bad comedian/amateur sociologist" Or so says his myspace. What I heard was fome lo-fi folk with some weirdness mixed in. Apparently he recorded an album with Fred Thomas of Saturday Looks Good to Me fame. The show is FREE and starts at 9 PM.

The Parlour has a show with Bootz Orchestra and Lindsay Clark. Bootz Orchestra is a group that I have not heard of before. But from what I can tell they make Folk-rock that fall somewhere between Okkervil River and Beirut. As you might imagine the group is large with many instruments. But the real reason I am writing about the show is because of Lindsay Clark. I played a show with her a while back. I was so impressed by her traditional folk stylings that I bought her album at the show. It is nice. She originally comes from Nevada City and would not sound out of place on a bill with Alela Diane. The ALL AGES show is $4 and starts at 7 PM.

Ducketts Public House is having a show with Carrion Spring, Air War, and Get Up Get Down. I know nothing about the other bands, but Air War has been on my radar for awhile, though I still haven't seen them. They make self proclaimed "Sludge gaze" music. That is to say it is kinda like sludge and kinda shoe gaze. In other wards it is really cool sounding instrumental rock music. You guys should know by now that I am a fan of good instrumental rock music. Portland does not get light shown on the talent we have in that area of music. The show is FREE and starts at 9 PM.

If you see me at these shows please say, "Hi".

Air War will rock you. If you are willing to head over to Ducketts tonight.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Interview: Fenbi International Superstars

Interview with Micheal Phillips of The Fenbi International Superstars by Ron Trembath, CIMTB reader and contributer to music blog

The Fenbi International Superstars never fail to entertain. Their own special brand of world music has become a stock hold for many Portlanders looking for a good time as of recently. Band member Michael Phillips is a true poet and artist. Not to mention a real trooper for dealing with my silly and sometimes rhetorical questions. But, ever the entertainer he pulls through in a big way to let the good people of Fenbi's fair city know they intend to stick around and rock their mismatched socks off. - Ron Trembath

RT: So, if you don't mind, explain what exactly "Fenbi" is?

FIS: Fenbi is a band that started in July of 2004. Originally Orion and I were creating “ethnic” songs that gave us an adrenaline rush and made us laugh until we were blue in the face. Slowly we started writing words, exploring more folk sounds from more and more countries – and before we knew it our band evolved into a passionate display of Irish history and the Balkan gypsy culture.

RT: What would you describe as the "mission statement" of The Fenbi International Superstars?

FIS: Our mission statement is to create fun and funny music, free of the self-righteousness and drama of ‘pop’ and ‘indie’ music. We know we are a niche … but the niche of kids that like our music happens to be the type of people we like to be around.

RT: By now, most of your local fans know about your less than mutual split from your former pop rock group The Young Immortals, and it's been over for quite some time now. But, I have to ask, how has the transition been for you and your new old band?

FIS: It started as a rough transition because when I left The Young Immortals in December of 2007 I found myself couch surfing with nothing to my name, no job, no fall back plan, and absolutely exhausted from a 60-day tour across the country. Bad decisions influenced by desperation were made during this time and these decisions continued to follow me until about April of this year. Trying to launch a career during the exact date many people claim the recession began was a daunting task to say the least. In 2008 I ended up selling my bass gear for 1/3 of the price I bought it for just to pay rent … I sold my bass guitar … it was probably one of the roughest years of my life.
But thanks to the great network of friends and the great people of Portland, I currently find myself resting comfortably in the early phase of what I hope will evolve into a great career. Fenbi has evolved into that beautiful artistic emotional outlet for all involved – and that is what music is all about anyways. We aren’t trying to set any world records or even live off of this band – but we are trying to do this to the best of our ability and we are trying to create fun music with irreverent lyrics that people can sing along to.

RT: Are you happier now?

FIS: I am way happier now. I feel satisfied that I followed my dream of trying to make a career out of rock’n’roll – and I am glad that I fell flat on my face. Failing is a good thing … so many people are obsessed with never making mistakes … but going out on a limb and following your passion only serves to shape you into a better person.
What do you think it is about Fenbi's live performances that set you apart from the thousands of acts right in your hometown?
Portland is full of talented and interesting musicians and bands, but Fenbi offers consistent humor and singalong music – it’s an act that everyone can relate to. Perhaps at first people might think we are weird or overtly enthusiastic – but once they let their walls down and realize that we’re there to have fun, they realize that we are writing music that people can relate to, sing along to, and god forbid Portland, Oregon – dance to?

RT: Would it be safe to say that Fenbi is sort of a, worldly "working man's" group"?

FIS: Yes, we are a world music band without the pony tails and patchouli. When we first started performing we had never heard of Gogol Bordello or Balkan Beat Box or Beirut – but that is the type of music we are trying to create – with the lyricism of the Pogues.

RT: You are recording your debut EP right now. How is it turning out?

FIS: I think our songs are going to turn heads. We are recording three songs initially written in the fall of 2004 and spring of 2005, and will be recording one new song that we have performed live only a handful of times. A team of animators who work at Laika will be working on our video in their spare time. It is a very exciting time for team Fenbi.
After you become super famous when you release your upcoming EP, will Portland show goers still be able to find you at your regular venues (Dublin Pub, Ash St, etc.)?
Yes, we like those people. We are opening up 2010 with an awesome show at the Ash Street Saloon. Opening will be Ugen Flagen, a Swedish metal band from Guam (or so they say). Also performing with us is Sneakin’ Out – and if you haven’t seen them you are missing out big time. They are easily one of the most fun and most musically talented bands in Portland – the percussionist even uses a typewriter at times.

RT: Aside from the first week, what does the rest 2010 have in store for Fenbi?

FIS: We hope to apply for a headlining spot at the NW Folk Life Festival in Seattle. Other than that – it would be nice to get up to open for some worldly bands at the Crystal or Roseland. It’d be nice to get to Vancouver, BC this summer. We often fantasize about performing in Europe … and have even written a Scandinavian National Anthem that we hope will encourage them to bring us over.

RT: Any chance of a full blown tour in the near future?

FIS: We probably wont tour until there is a demand. If there is never a demand, we are content having fun with our pals in the NW.

RT: Before we wrap this up, anything you want to pimp, promote, say to anyone who may be reading this?

I want to remind readers that if they have an interest in Irish/Gypsy music and like bands including Ween, Flogging Molly, Gogol Bordello, The Pogues, and Balkan Beatbox – then come to our show. We wont let you down.

Ben Meyercord's Live Music Picks for Saturday, December 12th

Hello Dear Readers,

Last Night AristeiA played with Westfold who were great, but who I want to write about was the opening band, My Dads. They were actually pretty cool. They were an instrumental rock band that made heavy use of a Rhodes (and other keyboards) and trumpet along with the usual rock line up of two guitars bass and drums. I thought with the music was well thought out and executed. There were only two things that I thought held them back. 1) too much "chorus" effect. This is an effect that I personally just can't get down with. 2) too much tlaking inbetween songs. For an Instrumental band, they sure were talking a whole lot. Mostly making bad jokes. Granted a whole lot of people were not there at the time, so they were probably just trying to have fun. Even a small audience can only take so much. But there music was pretty good. I would like to see them again. Anyways, here are the shows that look good to me tonight:

Saturday, December 12th

Berbati's is having Nurses, aan, and Typhoon play a show. This is a ridiculously good line up. This is the one I will go to. The line up are all on my absolute favorite list of current Portland bands. I love all of these bands so much. Wether it be Nurses minamal, weird and yet insanely catchy pop, or the dark and beautiful music that is calculated to pull your heart strings music from aan, or the epic tidal wave of music created by Typhoon, there is nothing not to love about this show. TheALL AGES event is $8 and starts at 8 PM.

Slabtown is having Rock N Shop with No Go Know, Boy Eats Drum Machine, Illmaculate, The Ax, The Mean Jeans, The Pity Fucks, Winterhaven, and Graves. This is a cool event with local labels and music selling people get together to sell you their records/cds on the cheap for your holiday/personal shopping. The vendors confirmed thus far: "Green Noise, Skywriting, This Heart Will Burn Right Out, Hovercraft, Magic Marker, Tender Loving Empire, In Music We Trust, The Union, Someone Clothing, Taxidermy, Bladen County, XO Publicity, PDX Pop Now, Felony Fidelity, North Pole Records, Gnar Tapes & Shit, Sohitek, Greyday
Cravedog, People In A Postition To Know, KPSU". And there are all of those bands that I mentioned. The show is FREE and starts at 3 PM.

Mississippi Studios is having a show with J. Tillman (Seattle?), Pearly Gate Music (Seattle), and Al James. J. Tillman's music is good folk music that wou;dn't sound out of place along side the other band he plays with, Fleet Foxes. Seriously, I know it doesn't hurt that Fleet Foxes are pretty big, but he deserves to big on his own. I find his soothing music somewhere between Damian Jurado and Iron & Wine. Pearly Gate Music sounds very fine. I couldn't find much info about the band, but I read that they may have signed to Barsuk. That's cool. Cause they put out good records. What I heard reminded me kinda of the folkier moments of Chad VanGaalen. Al James sounds like a stripped down version of Dolorean. Because umm... that is what it is. So if you liek to hear a man and his guitar making Americana check this out. The show is $12 and starts at 9 PM.

East End is having a show with Woven Bones (Austin), Bohdi, and BloodBiker. Woven Bones plays hip sounding grimey garage rock. Bohdi plays music that is both reminiscent of garage and glam music. It has catchy grooves and memorable keyboard lines and hooky choruses. What's not to like? The show is $7 and starts at 9 PM?

The Waypost is having a show with Ali Wesly, Helen Chaya, and Shoeshine Blue. Ali Welsy is a well kept secret in Portland. I believe she plays with a few bands around town, but her songs are pretty good too. They remind me of the late 90's female singer songwriter greats. I love her voice and its warm simplicity that stays afloat her acoustic pop. Helen Chaya also makes acoustic pop her voice is less warm and more chilly it is good and has a a slight rasp. Her songs seemed informed by Red House Painters and sure enough they are name checked in her song "Red Bird". Shoeshine Blue, I have written about several times before. His literate Blues/indie-folk feel is always backed by a lovely band of some form or another. His complete band includes a stand up bass, two trumpet players, two female back up singers (who also play flutes), and a drummer. The ALL AGES show is FREE and starts at 7 PM.

Expansion Mansion is having a show with Reporter, Jeffrey Jerusalem, Sex Life, and DJ Maxx Bass. This will most assuredly be a dance party for the ages. All ages. Snap! Anyway I have written about all of these bands and all I have to say is if you want to see a super fun group of dance bands for free, now is your chance. The show is ALL AGES and, as I mention before, FREE and starts at 9 PM.

If you see me at these shows please say, "Hi". Or else face the truth that you are anti-social and alone.


Typhoon plays Berbati's as part of an unbeatable lineup tonight.