All posts by Ramune Nagisetty

All I Feel is Yes’ New Double Album Dares to Sound Different

While most bands are putting out EPs and singles, All I Feel is Yes, takes a different direction with their new double full length album, Golden Noldies. This album, which incorporates improvisational and experimental aspects, requires commitment from the listener. Musicians can really appreciate the particularly solid rhythm section, topped with sizzling guitar leads, and jamming Hammond-tone keyboards.

The different band members, who call themselves a collective, are local music veterans and play in various projects. Keyboard player, saxophone player, and singer, Alison Dennis is known for her band sketches, which are featured on the Portland Notes website. Alison, along with bass player, Jacob Anderson, and drummer, Mike Chastain, also plays in another local band, Dr. Something.

The anchor of this band is multi-instrumentalist and singer, Jason Ferris, who plays some tasty guitar riffs. His bass playing is also notable, as exemplified in the short and catchy tune, Anti-Bionic, on the first of the two volumes. The song, “A Warm Bath at the End of Time”, wraps up this double album perfectly, with Jason riffing on the keyboard and Alison playing soothing sonic tones on the saxophone.

Alison describes the band’s recording methodology: “We’ve made recordings of most of our rehearsals. We usually jam for at least part of every rehearsal, occasionally we’ll spend an entire night just improvising.” While this recording method works pretty well for instrumental music, the vocals end up sounding a bit rough as compared to the type of productions that most people are used to.

As far as influences, I hear a similarity to Gong, a prog jazz rock band from the 1970’s, but my hunch is a bit off the mark. Alison cites “Crazy Horse, Flaming Lips, Amon Düül, early Pink Floyd & P-Funk” as influences. Jacob offers additional insight by explaining that bandmates share a “track of the week”. While not all of these are considered influences, it’s what they’ve been listening to over the space of a couple years: “Träd, Gräs och Stenar, Sylvester, Cherelle, David Bowie, Arthur Russell, This Heat, Limahl, Dragontime, Richard Youngs, Richard Harris, the Beach Boys, Yoko Ono, Komeda, Alice Coltrane, Paul Horn, Penny McLean, Wilson Pickett, Dawn of Midi, Queen, Gershwin, Wire, Single, King Crimson, Devo, Midlake, Floex, and the Five Racketeers.”

The two Golden Noldies volumes are grouped chronologically, with Volume 1 recorded in 2015 and Volume 2 recorded in 2016. The tunes are a great backdrop for scrapbooking and other crafty listening endeavors. Check ‘em out on Bandcamp.

Anna Tivel Tells Stories from Life on the Road

Photo credit: Jeffrey Martin

Anna Tivel is for the careful listener who appreciates lyrics and is intrigued by a well-crafted story. Her songs and style match the light of Sunday mornings in winter. The minimal production of her new album, Small Believer, preserves the quiet sensitivity of Tivel’s voice. The music is haunting and provocative, with lyrics describing melancholic stories that reminisce of the truck stops, trailer parks, and ghost towns that we only see when we set out on the open road, which is where Tivel wrote most of the tracks on her new album.

Tivel released the first track, All the Way from Illinois, as a single recently, and the entire album will be available on September 29, on Fluff and Gravy Records.

Super Beautiful Magic Says It All (King Black Acid Album Review)

King Black Acid is for music fans who think that great bands and great recordings are a thing of the past. These types of listeners will be happily proven wrong. King Black Acid’s latest full length album, Super Beautiful Magic, is a medium tempo many layered cinematic journey and a high quality production. The band is often compared to Pink Floyd, though any similarity is purely coincidental. Daniel John Riddle, who goes by the pseudonym King Black Acid, cites some of his influences as Kate Bush, Brian Eno, Fiona Apple, George Harrison, and Neil Young. The influence of Bowie is also evident, especially in the third and fourth tracks, “Sing About Love” and “Big Gummo.”

Daniel says the band “creates a unique listening experience by dreaming deep into each piece of music.” The first song on the album, “Welcome Home down the Rabbit Hole”, starts the psychedelic journey, which is punctuated by excellent drumming, guitar solos, and dreamy ethereal soundscapes that build in intensity and anticipation. In a very smooth maneuver, “The Good Life” continues, without pause, directly into “Spirit” with gorgeous horns and vocals. “Breathe the Light” is another outstanding track among many.

Riddle recorded and produced the entire album in his home studio, Mazinga Studio, where he records and produces albums for his label, Mazinga Records. Over the years, Riddle has recorded and produced five King Black Acid studio albums, two EPs, a multitude of singles and original musical scores for productions such as The Mothman Prophecies, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and CSI. The band is being inducted into the Oregon Music Hall of Fame on October 14th.

KBA recently released a music video for the second song on the album, “The Best Lies”. However, to do the album justice, it needs to be heard in its 13 track entirety. Check out Super Beautiful Magic wherever you listen to music- iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, YouTube, etc. And catch the band live in Seattle on October 14th or in Salem on Nov 18th.

Link to video

Streetcar Conductors, Timeless Power Pop that is Worth the Wait

Jonathan Moore lives and breathes music. He is a songwriter who plays drums, guitar, bass, keyboards and sings lead and harmony vocals. Multi-instrumentalists like Moore don’t need a band, they can create their sonic vision, record and produce as a solo effort, and then look for bandmates for the live show. Ironically, having all those skills doesn’t necessarily yield fast results.

Jonathan has been working on his current project, Streetcar Conductors, for four years. The project includes 30 songs from all throughout Jonathan’s musical life, from the 90’s to the present. He is a musical craftsman who is in no rush to release anything that is less than perfect.

Recently Jonathan found his ideal musical complement in multi-instrumentalist and singer, Carmen Charters. Until just a few months ago, he had been recording his current album almost completely by himself, but Carmen came along and is transforming it into an exceptional collaboration. Carmen plays keyboard, electric guitar, sings lead and harmony, and also writes her own songs.

I was fortunate enough to catch Jonathan and Carmen at the Waypost in North Portland. With its excellent sound system and intimate atmosphere, the Waypost is a wonderful venue for small acts. The video linked here is their performance of the first song Carmen ever wrote, and is just one example of this winsome duo’s talent. Streetcar Conductors released a single last year, and is planning to release a full length album next year, guaranteed to be worth the wait.

Link to video

Bevelers on the Doug Fir Patio

One of the most delightful things about summer in Portland is enjoying free live music outside on the Doug Fir patio on Sunday afternoons. Bevelers haven’t played out in a year, so seeing them play in the Pickin’ on Sundays series was a rare treat. The duo, Lee Aulson and Adria Ivanitsky, are integral to Portland’s music scene. Lee has been a booker for several music venues and hosted a singer songwriter showcase at Vivace coffeehouse for many years, which even featured Taylor John Williams before he reached fame on the Voice. More recently, Lee and Adria have separately formed new projects, Lee and the Bees and Cool Schmool, though they still enjoy playing together.

During their patio set, they each took turns playing a single guitar, playing simple tunes and singing beautiful harmonies. Adria claims that anyone can go on tour with two chord songs like they did, but that’s because the chords are just the backdrop for their beautiful harmonies. In fact, this live acapella performance of their song, Icebergs, proves that guitar chords are entirely optional.

Link to video