All posts by Ramune Nagisetty

Super Beautiful Magic Says It All (King Black Acid Album Review)

King Black Acid is for music fans who think that great bands and great recordings are a thing of the past. These types of listeners will be happily proven wrong. King Black Acid’s latest full length album, Super Beautiful Magic, is a medium tempo many layered cinematic journey and a high quality production. The band is often compared to Pink Floyd, though any similarity is purely coincidental. Daniel John Riddle, who goes by the pseudonym King Black Acid, cites some of his influences as Kate Bush, Brian Eno, Fiona Apple, George Harrison, and Neil Young. The influence of Bowie is also evident, especially in the third and fourth tracks, “Sing About Love” and “Big Gummo.”

Daniel says the band “creates a unique listening experience by dreaming deep into each piece of music.” The first song on the album, “Welcome Home down the Rabbit Hole”, starts the psychedelic journey, which is punctuated by excellent drumming, guitar solos, and dreamy ethereal soundscapes that build in intensity and anticipation. In a very smooth maneuver, “The Good Life” continues, without pause, directly into “Spirit” with gorgeous horns and vocals. “Breathe the Light” is another outstanding track among many.

Riddle recorded and produced the entire album in his home studio, Mazinga Studio, where he records and produces albums for his label, Mazinga Records. Over the years, Riddle has recorded and produced five King Black Acid studio albums, two EPs, a multitude of singles and original musical scores for productions such as The Mothman Prophecies, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and CSI. The band is being inducted into the Oregon Music Hall of Fame on October 14th.

KBA recently released a music video for the second song on the album, “The Best Lies”. However, to do the album justice, it needs to be heard in its 13 track entirety. Check out Super Beautiful Magic wherever you listen to music- iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, YouTube, etc. And catch the band live in Seattle on October 14th or in Salem on Nov 18th.

Link to video

Streetcar Conductors, Timeless Power Pop that is Worth the Wait

Jonathan Moore lives and breathes music. He is a songwriter who plays drums, guitar, bass, keyboards and sings lead and harmony vocals. Multi-instrumentalists like Moore don’t need a band, they can create their sonic vision, record and produce as a solo effort, and then look for bandmates for the live show. Ironically, having all those skills doesn’t necessarily yield fast results.

Jonathan has been working on his current project, Streetcar Conductors, for four years. The project includes 30 songs from all throughout Jonathan’s musical life, from the 90’s to the present. He is a musical craftsman who is in no rush to release anything that is less than perfect.

Recently Jonathan found his ideal musical complement in multi-instrumentalist and singer, Carmen Charters. Until just a few months ago, he had been recording his current album almost completely by himself, but Carmen came along and is transforming it into an exceptional collaboration. Carmen plays keyboard, electric guitar, sings lead and harmony, and also writes her own songs.

I was fortunate enough to catch Jonathan and Carmen at the Waypost in North Portland. With its excellent sound system and intimate atmosphere, the Waypost is a wonderful venue for small acts. The video linked here is their performance of the first song Carmen ever wrote, and is just one example of this winsome duo’s talent. Streetcar Conductors released a single last year, and is planning to release a full length album next year, guaranteed to be worth the wait.

Link to video

Bevelers on the Doug Fir Patio

One of the most delightful things about summer in Portland is enjoying free live music outside on the Doug Fir patio on Sunday afternoons. Bevelers haven’t played out in a year, so seeing them play in the Pickin’ on Sundays series was a rare treat. The duo, Lee Aulson and Adria Ivanitsky, are integral to Portland’s music scene. Lee has been a booker for several music venues and hosted a singer songwriter showcase at Vivace coffeehouse for many years, which even featured Taylor John Williams before he reached fame on the Voice. More recently, Lee and Adria have separately formed new projects, Lee and the Bees and Cool Schmool, though they still enjoy playing together.

During their patio set, they each took turns playing a single guitar, playing simple tunes and singing beautiful harmonies. Adria claims that anyone can go on tour with two chord songs like they did, but that’s because the chords are just the backdrop for their beautiful harmonies. In fact, this live acapella performance of their song, Icebergs, proves that guitar chords are entirely optional.

Link to video

Tumbledown Sounds Fresh, yet Familiar (album review) – A.K.A. The Trimet Connection

Tumbledown’s latest release In Between kicks off with a song called Friend in Texas that immediately conjures up an image that suits this 5 piece band. This is Americana that will have you humming and tapping your foot within minutes, if not seconds. The opening tune includes a harmonica jam that pretty much settles any questions about what this band is about. Even if you don’t have a friend in Texas, you’ll find yourself singing along.

Tumbledown has two lead singers, Tyler South and Scott Robertson, collaboratively songwriting, and swapping lead and harmony singing. Drummer, John Markealli, lays down a solid beat for the rest of the band to build upon, creating catchy dynamics that are fresh, yet immediately familiar. Bass player, Brian Panulla, adds a third harmony and occasional lap steel guitar.

Fun fact: this band has a deep TriMet connection. Brian joined in 2014 after seeing them play at a TriMet function. Keyboard player Dave Whipple, who works at TriMet, joined in 2015 after seeing them play at a TriMet function. Scott also works at TriMet. It seems like TriMet functions are a great place to meet friendly musicians!

It’s clearly evident that the band takes inspiration from Tom Petty, Neil Young, and other icons of the songwriting craft. While the band has over 30 songs, they chose to focus on producing what they felt were their best 7 songs for this debut EP, which explains why it is so strong from start to finish.

Tumbledown also sounds great in person. Catch them live on Saturday, September 9, at Skyline Tavern or on Tuesday, September 19, at McMenamin’s White Eagle.

In Between” was released on Feb 17, 2017.

The Lower 48 – Stunning Harmonies and Pop Hooks

When listening to The Lower 48 it’s impossible not to be stunned by their beautiful harmonies. It’s no surprise to learn that this 60’s influenced pop band started out as bona fide folk singers. Their first album, Everywhere to Go, from 2009 reflects a simple acoustic band with impeccable three part harmonies. Since then, the Lower 48 have turned their harmonies away from folk and towards psychedelic pop. The result is simply brilliant.

The Lower 48 list the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club band as a specific influence, as well as the Kinks, but in my mind I think the closest comparison might be the early 90’s also-from-Minneapolis band, Trip Shakespeare’s album, Lulu. All three multi-instrumentalists and vocalists, Sarah, Ben, and Nick, have lived in Portland for eight years, but they still play most of their gigs while on tour. Their stage show is a must see.

Check out this live clip of The Lower 48 performing their song, Rabbit Hole, recorded at Alberta Street Pub on August 12, 2017. You can pick up their most recent album, Hot Fool, through on-line streaming, CD, and vinyl, and catch their upcoming gig at Rontom’s on the Sunday of Labor Day weekend, Sept 3, 2017.