All posts by Ramune Nagisetty

Redcoat Turncoat and the Toads Spawn Fresh Earworms


Well, some kind of magic happened at the split EP release party last weekend at the Firkin Tavern. Ginger-haired bass player extraordinaire, Matt Dinaro, joined what appears to be his third Portland band, Redcoat Turncoat (fronted by another red-haired talent, Nate Birkholz) for a split EP release party and birthday celebration. Also on board were Dinaro’s second band, Streetcar Conductors, and his first band, the Toads, who split the EP with Redcoat Turncoat. This might sound confusing, but when you hear all three of these bands, it makes sense. Tasty power pop tunes and genius songwriting are the common thread.

The Toads, who have established themselves as one of Portland’s musical treasures, joined with Redcoat Turncoat to release the split EP, Let’s Call the Cops, with each band contributing 4 tracks to the CD format. The first four tracks belong to the Toads, with songs and production as good, or maybe even better, than anything than they’ve previously released. All four tunes are gems. Finer Folk is a catchy number with a touch of country twang in its guitar riffs and lyrics, “you know there’s finer folk than the ones we’ve got now, go out and use your vote,” that resonate for the time and place.

The new news here is the brilliance of Redcoat Turncoat. In a world where music is polished until it loses its feeling, Redcoat Turncoat has a different kind of shine. The naked simplicity of Birkholz’ vocals reminds me of the Juno movie soundtrack (think Moldy Peaches and Kimya Dawson), but… combined with mesmerizing 80ths synth and keyboard melodies dotted with piano and guitar riffs. The genius of these songs is that they sound immediately familiar, as if you’ve heard them before, but you can’t put your finger on it. A hint of Velvet Underground comes through in the layering to create seriously addictive earworms. In particular, the tune, Michigan Eyes, has an unforgettably strong pulsing beat and melody that goes on for 7 minutes but doesn’t get old. The tune’s lyrics include a reference to the last release from Redcoat Turncoat, which was a 2010 EP called “How do you feel about long goodbyes?” The four tracks from Redcoat Turncoat end with a retro throwback, Hey You, that reminds me of simpler pre-internet days. The band is planning for a future vinyl release that will include the song, Alright, which was part of the PDX POP NOW compilation last year, and has this adorable music video featuring Birkholz and his toddler son.

The split EP release party at the Firkin was epic. Power pop maestros, Streetcar Conductors, played a stripped down opening set with drummer Jonathan Moore playing acoustic guitar instead, followed by Redcoat Turncoat, and a closing 15 minute power set by the Toads. It had to be one of Portland’s best gigs of the year, and the Firkin crowd was extra special. The new CD is on heavy rotation and every tune is great. Bravo!

Track fb to keep an eye out for rare gigs from the Toads and Redcoat Turncoat and check out both of their splits on Bandcamp.

Densmore’s 2019 Kicks off with an Undeniable Hit

Sam Densmore’s new single “Damn the Consequences” puts him squarely in the genre of pop philosopher. The new single has sensibility of Elvis Costello, but with the rich instrumental layering of R.E.M., and a vocal timbre that sounds just a tad like a combination of Michael Stipe and Tom Petty. But the lyrics are what make this song really special. It’s a kind of coming of age song, a song with brilliant lyrics that shine with the wisdom gained from making it to middle age. He rhymes “love, like time, is a construct of the mind” in catchy and insightful opening lines. The chorus, “live like there’s no tomorrow,” and “damn the consequences, and regrets too” could be a calling to pursue the frivolous behavior of youth or to set out on a full on mid-life crisis.

Densmore released the song on Feb 27 with an entertaining video featuring Sam and a naked Portlander riding around town on scooters, which means that it must have been filmed last year when scooters were still legal in Portland.

Check out Sam’s discography, including his 2017 album, Open Marriage, which was also expertly written, on Bandcamp and his website. Follow Sam on FB, and stayed tuned for his upcoming EP, Black Velvet Unicorn, to be released in the fall. His next gig is guaranteed to be awesome. April 13 he is playing a rare all-ages music video festival and concert alongside Skulldiver and Camp Crush at Clinton Street Theater. Congrats to Sam for kicking off 2019 with such a great single and amazing upcoming gigs!

Last but not least, if you’ve enjoyed this music review, please consider clicking on the sidebar to subscribe to the Portland Notes music blog so you can stay in tune with Portland’s amazing local music.

The Cabin Project’s Decenter is a Quiet Roar

The Cabin Project is one of Portland’s best bands, and if you haven’t heard of them yet, then get yourself to Bandcamp or your streaming service of choice and get listening. Their sound has evolved over five albums and could be described as ethereal folk or symphonic comfort music.

The new album, Decenter, which I’m guessing is a play on the word dissenter, consists of ten songs that are remarkably consistent with each other and with their previous 2016 release, Unfolded. The songs are layered compositions of soft falsetto vocals and light harmonies soaked in reverb and nested into the textures of violin strings and orchestral percussion. Characteristic to their style, many of their songs start with a delicate whisper, move into rolling polyrhythmic beats, and then crescendo in a quiet roar. The songs on this album were written in response to the current socio-political situation, though it’s hard to know that simply by listening to the lyrics. The band says “Given our political times and witnessing the exponential wrongs and beauties that people are capable of bestowing upon each other, we decided to make a record that was bold.” They further explain “We set out to make a record that represents who we are as musicians, as people, as fighters, as friends, as partners, as women, as queers, as outcasts, as people who hold privilege, and as humans who also exist in narratives outside the dominant. A piece of music that honors and holds space for all these stories.”

Check out their website, follow them on facebook, and keep an eye out for one of their stunning live performances. And if you’ve enjoyed this music review, please consider clicking on the sidebar to subscribe to the Portland Notes music blog so you can stay in tune with Portland’s amazing local music.

Pickathon Announces 2019 Lineup

This week Pickathon announced its initial lineup for the 2019 festival, to be held in the woods of Pendarvis Farm in Happy Valley, just outside of Portland, Oregon from August 2-4, 2019. Pickathon has built a reputation over the last twenty years as it has increasingly evolved its festival experience to include groundbreaking programming focused on discovery, sustainable ethics, and a lineup that pushes the boundaries of genre. This vision is clear in the diversity of Pickathon’s initial lineup, which brings together well-loved Americana, doom metal, North African desert blues, Congolese experimentalists, as well as local talent.

About Pickathon, Eric Johnson of Fruit Bats says “You’ll never see more musicians watching other musicians. I’ve always likened it to a dog park for bands. I love running around with the other pups at this thing. It creates a completely unique unfiltered atmosphere that anyone watching can feel, even if they can’t explain it.”

Start preparing for Pickathon now by listening to the Pickathon Spotify playlist and checking the Pickathon website for information and tickets.

Pickathon 2019 Lineup

Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats
Khruangbin
Mandolin Orange
Nathaniel Rateliff
Tyler Childers
Lucius
Preservation Hall Jazz Band
Fruit Bats
Mountain Man
Caamp
YOB
Damien Jurado
Lambchop
Laura Veirs
Julia Jacklin
The Marías
Miya Folick
Sudan Archives
Bonny Light Horseman
Mdou Moctar
Courtney Marie Andrews
Lido Pimienta
Cedric Burnside
Town Mountain
Jupiter & Okwess
The Beths
B Boys
Our Girl
JJUUJJUU
Sneaks
Young Jesus
Sam Evian
Black Belt Eagle Scout
Flasher
Mike and The Moonpies
Nap Eyes
Soft Kill
H.C. McEntire
Helena Deland
The Cordovas
Lauren Morrow
Bodega
David Nance Group
The Po’ Ramblin’ Boys
Virginia Wing
Garrett T Capps
Martha Scanlan
Gold Star
Colton Turner
&more (Chill Moody & Donn T)
David Bragger & Susan Platz

When We Met’s New Single and Music Video are Oh So Relatable

The dynamic duo, When We Met, has been playing in Portland for several years now, and is well-known for their high energy live set. The duo, consisting of Melissa Dorres on bass and vocals and Bryan Casey on guitar and vocals, cite influences as diverse as Cyndi Lauper, Devo, and Ween. Recently Dorres became Portland-famous with an in depth article called “Getting Bass-ic” in She Shreds magazine on all the things to consider when buying a bass guitar.

Photo Credit: Roderick Allen Photography

The duo released a brand spanking new single and music video on January 13. It’s the third cartoon-style video that they’ve done with cartoonist/director/actor Zachary Whitmore. Melissa explained that the song, Falling Apart, was “inspired by depression, the hopelessness and acceptance of it all.” She described the song as “an ode to social anxiety.”

The song starts with their characteristic guitar riffs, blissed out vocals, and the lyrics “I don’t know. I don’t care”. The following verses become more driving and the lyrics describe what it’s like to be a recluse and hiding from reality- “I just live my life. I don’t go outside.” Whitmore’s interpretation and cartoon skills are a highlight of this new must-watch music video.

When We Met’s next gig is at the Hawthorne Hideaway on Saturday March 9. Check out their website for more info and links to their albums and videos. If you’re still enjoying this music review, please consider clicking on the sidebar to listen to the Portland Notes on-line stream and subscribing to the Portland Notes music blog so you can stay in tune with Portland’s amazing local music.