“It’s For You” Continues the Toads’ Tradition of Genius

The Toads are a formidable musical force, producing new songs with an unmatched sense of urgency. They have been killing it in Portland since early 2016, putting out five EPs and albums, totaling 32 new songs, in two years. “It’s for You” is their third release in 2017, which earns them the title of Portland’s most prolific and hardest working band. This is their first release with new drummer, Dylan Valentine, but the overall vibe is remarkably consistent. Four of the five songs on this newest EP were written by bass-playing literary blogger and philosopher songwriter Matt Dinaro, who wanted to be a priest in his younger days, but is now an atheist instead. On their previous 2017 release, Time, the majority of songs were written by sizzling wizard guitar player Matt Kane. While they write separately, both Matts write great lyrics that reveal modern-day existential angst and self-awareness. Their energetic tunes, which are typically about two and a half minutes long, are also perfect for the ADHD generation- quick and to the point, with no obligatory filler.

Photo credit: Heather Hanson

The first track, Landline, kicks off the album with the retro tones of a dialup modem and lyrics that wind their way through guitar jams and cymbal bashing while asking important existential questions: “What if I lose my cell phone, what if I live my life wrong, what if I need a landline”. The second track, Never a Good Time, describes the inconvenience of falling in love. “It’s never a good time to fall in love. Love takes your plans and it smashes them up. Nothing is safe from the break-in of love… I’m always in love.”

The final trio of songs were all written by Matt Dinaro in a single afternoon about a year ago and achieve a cathartic pinnacle in songwriting. The songs convey a sonic journey, mixing irony with reality, and are a description of our modern day social dystopia. The trifecta finale starts with “You Don’t Deserve Me”, which has a world-y swinging vibe and is about being tired of putting your best forward and getting nothing in return. “You don’t seem to care what’s inside of my mind… you don’t see seem to care, guess you don’t have the time.”I’m Sorry” follows with similarly relatable lyrics: “I’m sick of being clever I’m sick of being smart I’m sorry… I’m sick of being disciplined I’m sick of working hard, I’m sorry… I’m sick of puttin effort in, it doesn’t make a difference… what prize am I supposed to win?”

Photo credit: Steve Montague

It’s for You” culminates with its namesake track. In an informal commentary, Dinaro explained that the lyrics “Look at the stars, they’re for you, the planets, the constellations, and the moon, you can have anything that you want… Why can’t I love every minute that I have?” are about “how capitalism tries to tell you the world is your oyster and shames you for not seizing the day and making the most of every minute. It’s about that shame you feel for not living up to those ridiculous expectations.” This ironically uplifting song finishes off an album that is refreshing, relevant, and interesting.

Photo credit: Alex Why

The Toads are giving everything they have to give and are not afraid to share how they feel. The way they talk about themselves on and off the record shows that they observe their experiences in the broader context of what is happening around them, which makes them all the more lovable. Listen to them on Bandcamp, their website, and anywhere you listen to music. Their next scheduled gig is at O’Malley’s on Wed Feb 7, 2018. Join the cult, love the Toads, and stay tuned for more upcoming gigs on fb.

The Cabin Project Creates Symphonic Comfort

The Cabin Project consists of five women playing conventional instruments in an unconventional way. The band played at Alberta Street Pub last weekend, putting on a mesmerizing set full of layers and contrasts. Their music would seem appropriate in the comfort of a rustic hideout in the woods, as their names suggests, and also in the grandeur of a concert hall. The viola and 5 string violin played with distortion, reverb, and delay, along with spacious and dynamic percussion, and gorgeous vocals create an orchestral and modern feel. Their sound is unique, yet familiar to those who are fans of Bon Iver, The National, and Warpaint.


The Cabin Project with Katie Sawicki on guitar and vocals, Zanny Geffel on drums and vocals, Kelly Clifton on bass, Rebekah Hanson on viola, and Jean Mastaler on 5 string violin.

The Cabin Project puts on a stunning performance. Check them out next on Dec 22 at Turn, Turn, Turn, and learn more about them on their website and facebook.

Link to video

Evan Knapp – Keeping it Real

Photo by Jesse Newell

So, documentary lovers…tell me you don’t get all excited when you see “based on a true story” come across the screen…of course you do! Evan Knapp tells it like it is in every song, he’s an engaging storyteller, and keeps it real by writing personal songs that I suspect every listener can relate to. Knapp dropped by the Portland Notes studio to talk about his upcoming Sagittarius Birthday show (with Cairo Gylphs and Vega Black at Mississippi Pizza Pub this Sunday, December 10. In the interview, you will find out some juicy secrets about Evan and his songs, and when you listen, you’ll hear some exclusive live recordings!

My introduction is short and sweet, because I want you to hear Knapp’s story in his own words. He’s so much fun to talk with, and I know that if you come to an Evan Knapp show, you’ll enjoy his smile and conversation too. Inspired by John Mayer and Ed Sheeran, Knapp’s music is also very enjoyable and light hearted.

This very friendly and beloved Northwest musician has a few great videos out as well. He’s an open and accessible artist, and it’s so easy to identify with his very relatable songs. “Frosted Flakes” is a clever story about a date who kept cancelling and therefore missed out on Knapp’s very entertaining company…and pancakes. Please enjoy the interview, the live recordings, and check out his music for yourself December 10 at Mississippi Pizza Pub. Music is also available on his website.

We Three – Meet the Family Band: Release concert this December 10

As We Three prepares to launch their album, Celebrate the Struggle, Part 1, the siblings have found a non-profit partner to work with. In this interview, learn about their history, the upcoming release show on December 10, and their plans for the next year.

Siblings who have been playing together for a while, We Three create original music, as well as bringing their own style to some of your favorite covers, past and present.  Check out the interview below, and be sure and mark your calendar for a fun and worthwhile event.

PORTLAND NOTES: Tell me about the upcoming release – how did you decide when to “drop”? How will you promote the new music? What’s it called?

WE THREE: As for the release date we basically chose it because we it worked out well for the December 10th concert . We were asked to partner with an organization called Hope On The Hill by putting on a benefit concert for them on the 10th at their Church on the Hill. In doing so we wanted to take advantage of our amazing community of people who would be coming out by releasing our album specifically for that concert. We have an amazing support system in our town. The community of McMinnville loves the arts and LOVES supporting local musicians. We have fans who have seen our shows too many times to count but still make it a priority to come out to every show they can. It means so much to us.

The album is Called “Celebrate The Struggle Part 1”. We’re releasing this album in three parts because we are so eager to release a full album again. In our society we are all about instant gratification and we completely understand that’s it’s important to continue releasing projects for your fans. We didn’t want to keep our amazing group of fans waiting for a whole album which can take a while so we decided to split it up into 3 parts. By doing so we’ll still get to release Part 3 as the final album with all the parts combined. For us it’s going to feel like a completed project because we have so many songs we want to share!

PORTLAND NOTES: How did You Three find each other?

WE THREE: We are siblings, so we met at birth. We started playing together almost 10 years ago. We grew up each taking private lessons all starting on piano and from there shifting to our main instruments. Joshua stuck with piano and added drums. Bethany shifted to bass. Manny shifted to guitar. All of us love singing as well. We learned to sing and play simultaneously.

PORTLAND NOTES: Who are your musical idols, past or present?

WE THREE: Past favorites are Stevie Wonder, Earth Wind and Fire, Tower Of Power, Bela Fleck and Chicago. Presently,: Ed Sheeren, John Mayer, Sara Barielles and Josh Garrels,

PORTLAND NOTES: What is the first band you remember hearing as a child? Who played that album for/with you?

WE THREE: Earth Wind and Fire by dad.

PORTLAND NOTES: Why do you all make music – what message do you want as your legacy?

WE THREE:  It’s our way to connect with people, spread light and love and spread the vision of hope for a better tomorrow. We like to be honest in our songs. As songwriters we’re learning how important and difficult it is to be honest and vulnerable through your music because that’s when you can touch the most people. We hope to encourage and support people right where they’re at in their lives through our music.

PORTLAND NOTES: What are your plans for 2018? What are you looking forward to most in the coming year?

WE THREE: We are looking forward to promoting this album and finishing up part 2 and 3! We’ve had some exciting opportunities and some incredible feedback on the album already, which makes us very excited about this coming year! Our summer concert schedule is already filling up! We’ve learned so much and love the idea of life being all about the journey! We don’t expect to ever get to our destination. We love the journey and pushing ourselves to constantly grow in our music. We’re grateful that we get to do it together as siblings.

You may listen to music by We Three on their website, and engage with them through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

We Three doing “Timeless”

Laryssa Birdseye Makes the World a Better Place

Laryssa Birdseye might be Portland’s most compelling singer-songwriter. Last weekend at Kelly’s Olympian she and her all-star band delivered a memorable performance that reflected their natural connection with each other and with the audience. Laryssa’s voice was brilliant, but her keen sense of awareness, introspection, sense of humor, and sincerity were what made the show even more special.

Between songs she talked about her recent breakup, proclaiming that she has no luck in love, which is ironic given her incredible talent, intelligence, and warmth. She also talked about the topic of suicide- saying something that seems obvious, but is never talked about- that everyone on this planet has probably contemplated suicide at one point in time or another. In another truly intimate moment, she talked about a recent audition and the struggles of being an artist, and then debuted a brand new song called “Famous”.


Laryssa Birdseye debuting “Famous” with Agyei Marshall on guitar, Sean Kenny on drums, and Matt Brewster on bass.

Link to video

Laryssa Birdseye and her band make the world a better place. Learn more about her on Portland Notes and listen to her new album on Bandcamp, Spotify, etc. Check out Layrssa’s website and follow her on Facebook. Her next gig is at the Local Celebrity on Dec 6.

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