It’s August, and I feel like summer only just started. Joke’s on me because it’s almost over, and I’ll be spending the tail-end of Portland summer back home in Washington, D.C. But, until the rain sets in and I once again have to wonder why only ONE of my jackets has a hood, here are two gorgeous albums to usher out your summer.
Adult Diversion: The magic of Alvvays
“Alvvays” isn’t an album, it’s a feeling. It’s the taste of late summer; the drying of sweat after magic hour; the windows rolled down, the radio turned loud. The premiere album from the Canadian group by the same name was one of my most anticipated albums of the summer–and I’m beyond pleased with their 9-track debut. “Alvvays” is a shimmering, innocent ode to Summer. Songs about parties, love, getting in trouble, getting married, and sailing on the Atlantic flow together to create something that feels timeless. Stream this sucker on Spotify or purchase on their website.
Alvvays is playing the Doug Fir on December 1.
It’s a new you everyday: Jenny Lewis’ timeless heartache & musings on womanhood
There are few things written about womanhood that capture the pressures, insecurities, trials, and triumphs of being a woman. For almost two decades, and within the scope of three different musical projects, Jenny Lewis has done just that—and hammers it home on her new record “Voyager.”
In its exploration of motherhood, cheating, drugs, life on the road, heartbreak, and family, “Voyager” is a declaration of adult womanhood. It’s a document of mistakes, memories, and the things that give life meaning.
Lewis’s unique brand of narrative songwriting is infectious. Each song is a three-to-five minute glimpse into the life of a woman at a different point in her life or a relationship.
“Voyager” has gotten a lot of attention, thanks to the video for “Just One of the Guys” which features Anne Hathaway and Kristin Stewart. I love that track dearly, and I think it encompasses Lewis’s style almost flawlessly–presenting things that are pretty hard or heavy to think about in a way that is relatable, easy, and mind-numbingly catchy. My favorite tracks are: “Slippery Slopes,” a romantic ode to cheating, “Aloha & The Three Johns,” a song about entering middle age and a bad vacation, and “The Voyager,” a cosmic meditation on life itself.
Jenny Lewis is a role model for female musicians everywhere. Not only is she one of the most successful, but she’s entirely honest. To get a feel for her life and process, check out this moving NYT Magazine piece, which I was poised to hate but revisit frequently.
I could say A LOT more about this album, and maybe I will in time. For now, listen for yourself and tell me what you think.
Jenny Lewis is playing with Beck at Edgefield on August 21.
On Friday, the Doug Fir was jam-packed with whiskey-guzzling bumpkins and country-fried music fans. The occasion? Blitzen Trapper and Denver, of course!
I’ve been through a lot with Blitzen Trapper. In 2007 I journeyed to Seattle, Washington for the first time on a trip that would become a precursor to, well, this blog. I was 15 years old, and in love with everything new and hip, and anything having to do with music. It was on my then-new-favorite radio station KEXP that I first heard, “Sci-Fi Kid.” I flew back to Maryland, culled through the KEXP website, podcasts, etc. and finally found the track; found Blitzen Trapper.
It’s no shock that part of the reason I came to Portland in the first place was to be near bands like Blitzen Trapper. And so I’m a bit biased, but I think it would be hard to give Blitzen Trapper a poor review. In their 13 years as a band, their sound has changed, developed, and evolved into a grown-up version of what they were celebrating Friday–their first LP Blitzen Trapper.
BT is a gold mine of early-2000s experimental folk. It’s easy to listen to this record, reissued for Record Store Day this past April, and understand how Blitzen Trapper have become what they are today. There’s trippy long-form jams, tender songwriting, nonsensical weirdness, and a dose of banjo.
Friday’s show was a tribute to Blitzen Trapper’s journey as a band. Tight as ever, they played songs across their catalogue, including a personal favorite, “Texaco.” The band also debuted two new songs, “Heart Attack” and “Thirsty Man” which showcase Blitzen Trapper’s dedication to the sound they cultivated on 2011’s American Goldwing. The 70s-influenced, classic rock-infused sounds mesh well with the folk type persona the band has always held on to.
The new record is set to drop in September, and I am looking forward to ample opportunities to see Blitzen Trapper play around town.
Friday’s show was the first time I had the pleasure of seeing Denver live. The band’s held my interest in the year since releasing their self-titled album because they are the most country band I know of from Portland. My east coast ears appreciate this.
I really like Denver and think that their live show does great justice to their album. They’re getting ready to tour with James McMurtry, so check them out.
Beyond 94.7’s “December to Remember” there are a plethora of good tunes to take in in PDX this month. So here it is, your somewhat comprehensive, Zibby approved December show guide. Enjoy!
Portland’s country-sweethearts Denver had their first video for “The Way It Is” debut over at Paste this morning. If you like cowboy boots, dusty bars, bloody lips and members of Blitzen Trapper throwing punches at one another, this video will make you extremely happy.
I’m really excited about this little band called Denver, who released their self-titled LP debut this summer with Mama Bird Recording. Their simplicity, nostalgia, and no-nonsense country vibes are refreshing to me; a taste of Appalachia in the Northwest.
On Wednesday, November 21 Denver is playing at the Doug Fir with Raymond Byron and White Freighters, and Meridian. Tickets are $8. See ya then!
AC NEWMAN AT THE DOUG FIR! (via The Pioneer Log)
Sometimes you write previews at the last second just to score tickets to the show. Such is the life of a lazy music journalist. And by lazy I mean fully-loaded college student and Editor-in-Chief of the newspaper. Happy weekend, all! And if anyone wants to go see AC Newman with me, I’ve got a +1!
Summer ending is really bittersweet, as always. This summer has been a strange one for me, but probably one of the best summers I’ve ever had. It is only fitting that I say farewell to summer with a handful of kickass shows. Here it is, the Zibby-approved guide to September show-going & beyond: