Sometimes it’s hard to get above the clouds to see the rest of the world when you exist in such a musical circus like Portland, Oregon.
Not to exaggerate things, but thousands of bands and musicians are packed into this little-big city and I’m continually astonished that there seems to be enough room for everyone to coexist. It’s definitely cool to look around and feel as if you’re in the middle of an all-star film, like Ocean’s Eleven, where something big seems to be going on nearly every weekend.
You already know the heavy-hitters like the Dandy Warhols, the Decemberists, the Shins, and the other kids on the block like Dolorean, the Thermals, Blitzen Trapper, Stars of Track and Field and Viva Voce to name a few. Then there are recent transplants like Spoon’s Britt Daniel and Death Cab’s Chris Walla.
In the midst of this cauldron of a million bands, and in a town and culture where everything seems to be “indie-r than thou,” let me tell you about three more Stumptown acts to add to your “Must See/Download” list.
Boy Eats Drum Machine
As overused as the word “Genius” is, I’m going to go ahead and apply it. Jonny Rangle is one of the most talented artists forging his way through p-town these days. Don’t let the name Boy Eats Drum Machine throw you off, causing you to mistake it for an emo rock knock-off or a techno beat factory. Much like buddies Menomena, Boy Eats Drum Machine might be the biggest, most dynamic sound you’ll ever discover in a trio.
Their 2006 release Pleasure is both innovative and brilliant, flirting with delicious hooks, danceable beats and simplistic punchy guitar ballads. As good as their albums are, there is nothing quite like seeing these guys live. Rangle has the x-factor that industry insiders talk about and is surrounded by an arsenal of instruments, reinforced with fascinating turn-table work and non-stop dancing.
Fronted by one of the cutest gals in town, Oh Darling possess an intriguing yet subtle mix of sexual tension, plus plenty of indie pop goodness in their delivery. Jasmine Ash knows how to write catchy pop songs as delicious as Cheerios in chocolate milk.
Backed by a team of Portland indie-pop veterans, Oh Darling is currently in the studio, wrapping up their first full-length, which will no doubt make some waves. In the meantime, enjoy the eclectic yet rhythmically rocking material they turned out on their 2007 self-titled EP.
I can’t help but feel nostalgic rock and roll seeded deep within Fernando Visconte’s latest record Enter to Exit. Although Fernando isn’t exactly new to the Portland scene, I am frustratingly amazed by how many reliable indie rock connoisseurs fail to recognize him when I bring him up in conversation. If you aren’t up on Fernando, you might be missing the closest thing we have to a local “Bruce Springsteen meets Paul McCartney-like” performer.
A virtuoso on guitar, Fernando doesn’t pull any punches – just gives you straight-up, unadulterated, Portland indie rock. At last year’s SXSW, after wrapping up one of the more memorable performances of the festival – he high-tailed it to the emergency room where he was treated for 3rd degree burns he suffered during the set. The battery in his in-ear monitor melted and stuck to his leg, but the key to this story is that he finished his set. This guy is half man, half amazing.
Ryan Wines is the guy behind new Portland label Pet Marmoset, which just released their debut album The Silent Generation by The Dimes. Fernando plays a NadaMucho.com showcase at the Sunset Tavern on March 13.