Category Archives: Notable Review

Ra Recorded, By Treneti, Stands Out Among The Crowd

The end of March is a tumultuous time, as the weather finds its place in between winter and spring, we all collectively get used to it being a brand new year, and thousands of musicians around the world suddenly realize that the NPR Tiny Desk Contest is right around the corner and scramble to get together an entry to hopefully catch the attention of the universe. Out of this swirling mass, the calm, playful, and spiritual tones of Treneti’s video “Ra Recorded” caught my eyes, ears, and heart.

Link to video

Armed with “only” a bass, and backed by only drummer Peter Ryan, Treneti spins an assured mythology through the song “Ra Recorded”. I will begin by letting her speak for herself: “To understand the story of Ra Recoded, first you have to understand bit about the nature of my Being. I am one who channels sacred memory of the Earth and human time lines on the planet. This cosmic energy field is called the Akashic Records. This is the space I tap into to receive healing messages for myself, others and the place from which I receive psalms. “Ra Recoded” is a continuation of another psalm I received simply titled “Ra”.

You can continue to read the rest of her amazing story, which was a direct response to NPR reaching out to ask about the song, on her Facebook Page.

I met Treneti during some time spent taking an energetic body movement class, and I can attest to her amazing ability to download and disseminate information, whether it be through music, movement, energy, or meditation. It is not often that a live video is able to truly capture the essence of an artists reach through reality, but this one does. You can catch her playing around town, and participating in a number of healing ceremonies and charity events by checking out the schedule on her website:

Arbor Daze’s “Dispatches From The Void” Shows Us Where To Go

It is not often you receive a literal road map to go along with an album by a new artist on bandcamp, but with Arbor Daze’s “Dispatches From The Void”, we are in luck that a well documented path is laid out for us. Here is a list from their page:

“Ideal places and situations to listen to this album:
-red eye flight to a foreign country
-driving past a place you used to live, but don’t anymore
-in a cave, literally or metaphorically
-while you’re looking in the mirror wondering how exactly you got stuck with the particular body you’re in.
-after a panic attack about mortality “

Arbor Daze is the solo project of multi instrumental songwriter Aspen Koch, who during live performances makes expert use of loop pedals to weave excellent sound textures which excellently act as a great canvass for her songs and melodies. A lot of times, loop pedal guitarists seem to just loop themselves out into the stratosphere of the Noise Realm, but Arbor Daze tunes are actually very well crafted songs, with almost a theatrical feel to them, but also seem to have a lot of a more cinematic emo influences to them as well. On “Dispatches From The Void”, lead songwriter Aspen Koch is also joined by Kris Savitski on percussion, synths, and other noises.

Check out Arbor Daze’s Facebook Page for gigs, and the Bandcamp for more music!


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.