Three for the show at The Firkin in June

This past June, I got a chance to draw some sketches at a characteristically eclectic show at The Firkin, Portland’s coziest dive bar venue. Devin Brown, known for fronting local garage rock band Devy Metal, played a stripped down solo set of his inventively melodic pop rock songs, followed by the moody but effusive sounds of CHAD, a new project of Sarah Lane from The Late Great. Finally,  DMN rounded out the evening and transformed the bar into a mini dance club with their glossy, energetic synth-pop.

Devy Metal at the Firkin on June 15, 2018

Chad at the Firkin on June 15, 2018

DMN at the Firkin on June 15, 2018

Editor’s note: These three drawings are included in the complete collection, which is accessed from the Sketches menu.

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

Dr. Something’s “Beaverton TC” is a Quick Pick Me Up

Dr. Something’s new single “Beaverton TC” is adorable, effortlessly enjoyable, and worth listening to on repeat. The chamber pop tune kicks off with a rolling piano riff, evoking the cheery demeanor of the Peanuts theme song “Linus and Lucy.” The contortion of language in support of rhyming makes some of the verses sound almost Shakespearean.

Where do I go
When I’m looking to catch the bus to Tualatin?
Where do I go
When I’m aiming for the heart of the county known as Washington?”

The tune conjures up visions of a musical about suburban Portland, something along the lines of the Simpsons with a twist of Dilbert. Somehow a musical or TV series on transit centers seems timely now that the Portlandia TV series and the Portland culture of the ‘90s are officially over with. Beaverton TC could inspire a TV series about minivans, high school sports, and very friendly naïve people who are barely aware that a city called Portland exists, except for a few restaurants and an airport. I can already imagine a series of entertaining skits depicting Portland musicians, exiled from the city due to high rents, embarking on Tri-Met seeking affordable apartments in the suburbs. These seemingly related species, city-dwelling musicians and suburbanites are largely unfamiliar with each other’s existence, with the exodus of musicians to the suburbs providing fodder for endless parodies.

It is also worth noting that Dr. Something, a.k.a. Alison Dennis, wrote a worthwhile bonus track to promote the new song. She calls it a “jingle for the single”. Alison is working on an entire transit center collection, which I can’t wait to hear. In particular I’m looking forward to hearing about my own suburban neighborhood transit center, the Sunset TC.

Besides being a multi-instrumentalist and songwriter in Dr. Something, Alison also plays keyboards and saxophone in All I Feel is Yes and is a live music sketch artist. Her sketches are a hand-drawn documentary of Portland’s live bands and venues, capturing fleeting moments of an endangered cultural pastime.

Catch Alison with her band featuring bassist Jacob Anderson, drummer Michael Wilding, and back-up singing, go-go dancing sensations Amy Baxter, Erika Garlock and Christie Welsh at the single release party on Thursday, Sept 13, at Kelly’s Olympian. Follow her on fb, check out her website, and stay tuned to Bandcamp and SoundCloud for the rest of the transit center series.

P.S. If you enjoyed reading this, please subscribe to the Portland Notes blog. Also, 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. Thanks for reading!

Cypress Jones Inspires With the Wisdom of His Words

I first became acquainted with Cypress Jones through a music video that he had produced for local chanteuse, Laryssa Birdseye. So when I saw his recent video release for “Know Yourself” it took me a little while to figure out that it was not only his video production, but also his own song and voice. With its positive message and melodic backdrop his new tune “Know Yourself” grabbed me from the first listen. I dug into learn more, and found that Cypress grew up locally, recently moved to LA to pursue his dreams, and comes from an impressive musical family. His father, Alan Jones, is a very well-known local jazz drummer and his mother, Janet Chvatal, is a German opera singer. With a family background in jazz and opera, it’s not surprising that Cypress has a talent for music, understands how much hard work it takes to get anywhere in the business, and has an interesting perspective.

Know Yourself” is an inspiring song about… knowing yourself and how important and tricky that is. Check it out and learn more about Cypress, his journey, and his purpose in life in the interview below.

(Explicit)

PN: I first became acquainted with you through a music video that you had done for Laryssa Birdseye. Your videos are great!  So I was surprised when I saw your new video for Know Yourself. It took me a while to figure out that it was you, and your song. Can you say something about what inspired that song for you?

CJ: Thank you for the kind words! I have been rapping/producing pretty seriously now for about 14 years, just not in the public eye. It has been a long personal journey of deciding who to be and how to present myself if I ever decided to release music. One of the main things I’ve figured out recently is the most important thing is to get to know yourself, then present yourself and your story to the world. If you are authentic, you may never fall in line with the mainstream and be as big as you always dreamed, but you will be fulfilled, and actually have a chance of touching people in a meaningful way. This is where the idea came from, and I decided I wanted to share it, as well as just make a fun song for people to vibe to.  

PN: The song is described as being “car freestyle”. Can you describe the writing, performance, and production that goes into this kind of song?

CJ: This song was made completely in one night, from the beat production, to writing and recording. I have a lot of big productions in the works to start off my career, and I felt like if I didn’t just release it now, I may never get to it. So, I decided to jump in the car, and do an equally to the point video production to go along with it so I could edit and release immediately. It’s not a music video, but also not a live freestyle, so I just came up with a name and decided to run with it. I am hoping once I release my next “Real Music Videos” fans will come back to it and have a greater understanding of who I am. Doing these run-n-gun songs and shoots is pretty fun, so I may do something similar every month from now on.

PN: I heard that you are originally from Portland and just recently moved to LA. Why did you move?

CJ: I moved to LA for a couple reasons. First of all, I went through an incredibly traumatizing break-up, and it was time to change scenery and get my head straight. Second, I realized that although it is possible to “Make It” in Portland. Ultimately, everyone eventually ends up in LA once they find success. It’s just where everyone and everything is. Since being here, I have realized it is the perfect place for me right now. Being surrounded by so many of the most successful and motivated people in the industry is a breath of fresh air for me. When there are so many people better than you, hustling harder than you, there is nowhere to go but up if you have the right attitude and keep humble. I am learning an incredible amount, and fast. My heart will always be in Portland, and once I find the success personally, and commercially that I am looking for, I plan on moving back, or at least living there half time. I miss it very much.

PN: Some of the lyrics in the song make it seem like you have been working on freestyle hip hop for quite some time. Is this your first song and/or music video? Do you have more song concepts ready to record or perform?  Any plans to do more with this, or to perform live?

As I said before, I have been doing Hip-Hop for about 14 years now, since I was 11 and living in Germany. In the last 6 years, I have released a video here or there, but really only because I love doing it. I would just set up the shot and have my friends film it, whoever was available that day. If people watched and enjoyed, I was happy. Only now am I considering really pushing to do this full time. I have 5 videos in the works at the moment, including my first big budget song and video “All I Want” which I am very excited about. Right now I am polishing up the songs & videos, and building a plan on how best to release them so that this next push can really start off my career. I make at least 2 songs a week, and have for as long as I can remember, so I have no lack of material, it’s just deciding which ones to release and when to build the image that I want and to peek people’s interest.

PN: “Know Yourself” is uplifting and positive. But, a lot of hip hop seems kind of negative and sometimes derogatory towards women. Do you have any thoughts on that?

CJ: I have decided with my music that I want to be a positive force, but that’s just the true me. I am a positive and upbeat person and want to give that part of myself to the world. Everyone has darkness in their lives, and some artists feel like that darkness should define them. I have no problem with that, as long as concentrating on that darkness makes you happy. I know that for the listener, sometimes someone opening up about the darkness in their lives can help you navigate through it. Being derogatory towards women, or anyone for that matter is not helpful. There’s a fine line between expressing your feelings, and attacking an individual or group. I do not condone any of that. Love is the name of the game in my world.

PN: Who are your influences- in music, video, life, etc? 

My father and mother are my two biggest influences. My father, Alan Jones, is a respected jazz drummer in Portland, and my mother, Janet Chvatal, is an opera singer over in Germany. They have both been successful in this industry and taught me everything I know. They are as supportive as it gets, and give me knowledge on life and my career every day. I am truly blessed to have them. Rap-wise, I am a huge fan of Eyedea, Aesop Rock, Slug, Big L, Talib Kweli just to name a few. I gravitate towards lyrical rap, although recently I have learned how to appreciate pop more, and am adapting just a little, style-wise, to reach the most people possible. 

PN: What haven’t I asked you that I should have? 

CJ: Ha ha, I enjoyed your questions. Maybe: “What do you feel like your purpose in life is?” And my answer would be, to make art through whatever conduit I can, to bring people joy and to be a friend who is there for you, whomever you may be, whenever you need me. I want to repay the artists who helped me through my pain and have saved my life so many times.

Check out Cypress Jones’ new tune on youtube, fb, and Spotify.

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