Category Archives: Notable Review

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.

Dakota Slim’s “Cactus Crown” is Incredible, Artistic, and Astral

I have read a lot of reviews about Dakota Slim’s most recent release, title “Cactus Crown”, which came out over this past summer. I have taken that summer and the proceeding fall to exist within its haze, letting it weave a tapestry of astral environments for me to meditate around, a map that corrects itself somewhere between it’s original intentions and my own perspectives and paradoxes. It is easy to see where many folks get visions that produce reactions to “Cactus Crown” like: “Spaghetti Western”, “Cinematic”, and “Psychedelic Folk”. But there are some other reactions that my body has when I consume it’s creation. It is intentional. It is painstakingly crafted and recrafted. Dakota Slim has placed so many intelligent incracisies into this great work that every listen has a different dimension to it. Beyond all that it sounds professional: every part of this album is exactly as it should be, finding its way somewhere at the perfect intersection between overdone and creatively interesting. At the bottom of those waves it finds its home as a wonderful piece of artistic integrity: of someone finding themselves and sticking to their guns, and becoming exactly who they want to be. A lifelong process, surely, but albums like these are very nice waysigns, guide posts, and rest stops which can help us along the way.

That last paragraph had 222 words in it, which I decided was a neat enough looking number to look up the Occult Meaning of. I don’t know this kind of information off hand, because my memory is awful, but I came up with a ton of awesome information: “Serpent’s Eye”, “Good Mountain”, and many more. I have not taken up the time to decide which one of these I like, but I get a good feeling like I am on the right track when I see or hear something that gives me a fuzzy feeling on the back of my neck, somewhere below the backside of my crown and just in between the bottom of my shoulder blades. I am not %100 sure of the rituals that lead to the creation of “Cactus Crown”, but I do know that when I listen to this album I receive that sort of “ASMR” feeling that lets me know I am somewhere on the right path. These Eight Songs come together, in my listening experience, as a sort of meditative and forward moving ghost opening up that which is closed. The rhythms are just the right cradle between odd and familiar, the vocals are a whispering secret that can be heard voiced both in sands and alleyways. Spirituality aside, there is a lot of ambiance and alchemy between genres in this record, combining what sounds like a mixture of electronic beats on some songs, sampled drums, sampled horns, sampled everything. As a creator myself, I can feel certain parts that build and jive on themselves, and I can visualized the sort of cheshire smile that might have appeared on the songwriters face before a nod that signifies a “yeah, I got it that time”. This album, despite being artsy as hell, transcends being too pretentious because it sounds like it was extremely exciting to make. When music is just plain FUN to create, you can hear it when the record eventually comes out.

So pick up this indie-acoustic-spaced out but rhythmically interesting album soon, and support Dakota Slim’s other projects: such as the Open Source Art Religion & Collective We The Hallowed and Podcast “Pragmagick”. He always has something interesting up his sleeve, and I for one, am always interested to see just how deep those magicians robes go!

Evan Knapp’s Musicianship Shines through in an Impressive Debut

Evan Knapp wrote most of the songs for Green, his debut record, when he was 18 or 19 years old. The whole album conveys precious innocence and a shared sense of nostalgia through Knapp’s well-crafted songs and impressive musicianship. Knapp is an astounding bass player who plays in several local acts. His R&B and jazz sensibilities come through in all dimensions of his songwriting, singing, and multi-instrumental playing. Knapp’s good friend and collaborator, Salvatore Manalo, brings a Latin jazz feel to Knapp’s grooves by adding guitar or keyboard playing on all the tunes.

In “Today” Evan sings with the smoothness of Dido and the swing of Sade, starting the song with a sweet croon “Baby. How’s your day been?” Knapp continues his smooth swing and creative rhymes in “House” with an earworm “you know I ain’t hard to satisfy.” “Windmill,” a jazzy track describing Knapp’s bike trip from Salt Lake City to Portland and a love that he can’t shake out of his mind, is only available on the CD and Bandcamp.

In my favorite tune on the album, “Frosted Flakes,” Knapp joins great songwriters in using a breakfast theme- but Jack Johnson’s Banana Pancakes has nothing on Evan Knapp. Frankly, Knapp could sing the phone book to this funky riff, but even better, he describes an entertaining perspective on getting repeatedly stood up by the girl of his dreams, talking himself back up with the lyrics “you are what you eat, so enjoy them frosted flakes.”

“Take Your Time” has a funky vibe with an affirming message for those who are impatient to get to where they want to be “Take your time. Your opportunity will arise.” “Matter of Thought” describes the beginning of his journey westward and ends with Knapp saying to himself “what you’re doing with your life ain’t enough.”

It’s worth adding that Evan is a remarkably considerate person. I guess this is what might happen when someone grows up working on their parents’ organic farm and living abroad as an exchange student. When I first met Evan he was checking out all sorts of bands and venues, getting to know local musicians and their music. He supports other artists by playing in their bands and attending a lot of gigs. He has become woven into the fabric of the music community. His immense talent and supportive attitude make him one of Portland’s shining stars.

Get to know more about Evan through his brand spanking new documentary video on the making of the EP.

Check out Evan’s website, which includes links to all the major streaming services. The next opportunity to hear him play live will be on February 6th at Kelly’s Olympian with Sweet N’ Juicy and There Is No Mountain. And 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.

Rocket 3’s What’s the Frequency? An Ingenious Indie-Pop Album with All the Feels

Indie trio Rocket 3 is back with a new album that will knock your socks off. Their first album, Burn, was an absolute gem, so it is no surprise that this one, What’s the Frequency?, is solid gold as well. This album is not to be missed, and will take you on an emotional journey filled with nostalgia.

What’s the Frequency? kicks off with a jangly tune titled “I Choose Love.” The use of glockenspiel combined with Ramune Nagisetty’s warm vocals is so soothing, it sounds like a more intricate version of a lullaby. Not only is this a great song, it comes with a beautiful message, especially in this divisive political climate: we should all choose love. The second song on the album, “Echoes,” recounts a memory of an audience member being humiliated in an auditorium full of people laughing at their expense. The lyrics paint this picture as clear as day, and you can’t help but empathize for said audience member. The following tune, “What If” is a brilliant song about the struggles of drug addiction and how a “little pill” can ruin relationships. Despite having such a heavy subject, this song sounds uplifting. The use of masterful lyrics, a lilting melody, an epic rhythm section by Andrew Anymouse and Kenneth Foust, along with soulful keyboard by Gavin Duffy, make this song such a treat to listen to.

Next is my favorite song on the album: “Hip Shot.” This song is unbelievably catchy, and the saxophone playing by the very talented Gavin Duffy, really adds to this track’s shine. The infectious groove of this song will make you want to dance. After this comes “Favorite Thing,’ a song about true love and how it has grown over time. This song has a reggae feel, and is sure to hit home for those in love – both new love and love that has stood the test of time. Following this is a feel good summer jam, “Slow Your Roll,” which is all about taking it easy. The following tune is a breakup track titled “Giving Up.” This song has very relatable lyrics that tug at the heart strings, and will resonate with those who have ever been through a breakup. Gavin Duffy slays on keys, Kenneth Foust and Andrew Anymouse bring the groove, and Ramune Nagisetty nails it on the rhythm guitar as well as on vocals. Nagisetty’s vocals throughout the album are rich and emotional, conveying the feeling of the songs so well.

The next song, “I Don’t Need Ya,” is about the root of all evil, money. Specifically, it’s about breaking away from the concept that money rules all. The closing track on the album, “Evershine,” is about a relationship that has run its course. Nagisetty sings from the point of view of the partner who has been wronged time and time again and is leaving. This song is very musically interesting, and includes gorgeous saxophone playing performed by Gavin Duffy, metallophone performed by Andrew Anymouse, and a melody that is sure to get stuck in your head. This tune starts and closes with beautifully harmonized “oohs” and “ahs” that may induce goosebumps.

This album is incredible from start to finish. It has been in my heavy rotation since I got my hands on a copy in July, and I have a feeling it will be for a long time. Be sure to give it a listen if you are on the hunt for ingenious indie-pop with all the feels.

Follow Rocket 3 on fb, their website, SoundCloud, Spotify, and wherever you listen to music.

-Carmen Charters

Haley Heynderickx has a Quiet Voice and a Lot to Say

I spent the whole weekend flat out in bed with the flu listening to Haley Heynderickx. It was somehow appropriate to slow down time and spend it on soaking up the music of this Portland songwriter. Haley grew up in Forest Grove, which is far enough outside of Portland not to be considered a suburb. It is a small college town, home to Pacific University, in the middle of a scenic agricultural valley. Knowing what I know about Forest Grove, it seems nothing less than perfect that her recent album is entitled “I Need to Start a Garden.”

The album is a snapshot of a moment in time in an intriguing journey. Haley is of Filipino descent and grew up in a religious household with a mother who dragged her to karaoke. Then at the age of 11 Haley got a used guitar with a hole in the back and started taking guitar lessons from the only guitar teacher around, who was a bluegrass musician. The bluegrass influence is evident in her fingerpicking style, complete with a bass line, and punctuating flourishes. Her fingerpicking weaves a perfect nest for her fragile voice, as strong and delicate as spun glass. Bob Boilen from NPR’s Tiny Desk even went so far as to use the word frail, but in the most flattering way possible. In fact, she gives Boilen’s Tiny Desk contest a lot of credit for her quick rise, though her label, Mama Bird Recording Co., has done a lot to guide her along as well.

Haley’s guitar playing and voice are only half of the package. The other half is her songwriting and character. Her songs, some of which were recorded and released more than once, are polished gems with odd tunings and thoughtful lyrics about god, starting gardens, not being put in a box, how people are judged, and so many more things. Her songs are so unusual, they get under your skin with rawness, they don’t inspire humming or earworm jingles- they make you want to listen again, as if you were hungry for something like this. And I think we are.

The attention that artists and bands like Lucy Dacus, Soccer Mommy, Palehound, and Haley Heynderickx are getting is notable. These young women are writing songs that ask questions more interesting than the worn out “I love him so much”, “he dumped me,” and “now I’ll be strong” themes of modern pop divas. These young women are writing songs that are more compelling. On my favorite tune from the album, “untitled god song”, she describes god as a woman- “maybe my god has thick hips and big lips… she speaks every language…. she spins me around like a marionette”.

Haley is unsure as to how her journey will unfold, described poetically by her lyrics “my web is still spinning you can’t see it yet.” She needs to be alone and quiet for her songwriting process, but she’s been touring non-stop, performing with her full band, and sometimes solo, all over the world. She is playing this Thursday, September 27, at Revolution Hall with several other artists on the Mama Bird label.

Haley has given so many great interviews, each shedding more light on who she is. Learn more about her by clicking through the links in the story and the additional sources included below.

P.S. If you enjoyed reading this, please subscribe to the Portland Notes blog. We are looking for a few more writers who are enthusiastic about sharing their stories about Portland music culture, including album and live band reviews. Contact us if you are interested in writing!

Haley Heynderickx website

Rolling Stone https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-features/haley-heynderickx-garden-interview-705288/

Willamette Week

https://www.wweek.com/music/2015/12/08/introducing-haley-heynderickx/

https://www.wweek.com/music/profiles/2017/03/15/haley-heynderickxs-folk-music-finds-power-in-quietude/

SXSW https://www.austinchronicle.com/music/2018-03-16/sxsw-music-interview-haley-heynderickx/

Stereogum https://www.stereogum.com/1978242/artist-to-watch-haley-heynderickx/franchises/interview/

Pitchfork https://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/haley-heynderickx-i-need-to-start-a-garden/

Independent UK https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/news/haley-heynderickx-video-no-face-premiere-i-need-to-start-a-garden-new-music-a8331941.html