With the recent announcement of two more seasons of Portlandia as well as new albums from beloved bands like Typhoon, Radiation City, and Wampire, Portland is likely going to remain the subject of a thousand thinkpieces from here until the end of the decade. Want to stay well ahead of the curve when it comes to the music scene in the Rose City? Check out these five local acts that are already the talk of the town, but will be on the lips of the world’s tastemakers soon enough.
1. Woolen Men
This garage-pop trio has only recently decided to clean up its act, sonically speaking. After years of fuzzy analog weirdness courtesy of many short run cassette releases, the Woolen Men made the leap to the semi-big time with their self-titled LP out earlier this year on Woodsist. The grit of their jangled guitars and rough-hewn harmonies is still evident, but polished just so for easy consumption.
Portland’s thriving heavy rock and metal community has been finally getting the recognition it richly deserves thanks to groups like Red Fang and Agalloch. Next up in the spotlight? These prog-heavy titans. The quartet used to call itself the Moss, which should give some indication as to the earthy weirdness that underpins the dark riffs and epic swells of debut LP Wulfram.
3. Sun Angle
A supergroup of sorts, bringing together the musical ideas of friends and sometimes collaborators Charlie Salas-Humara (ex-Panther), Marius Libman (aka Copy), and Papi Fimbres (drummer for 1,000 Portland bands). Combined, the three cook up some particularly tasty post-punk jams that lean heavily on the dub switch and get sent into the rhythmic stratosphere by Fimbres’ busy scissors style of drumming.
The most “typical” sounding of this bunch, Houndstooth plays rough-and-tumble roots-rock leavened nicely by the dulcet vocals of Kate Bernstein and the quintet’s obvious love of warm ’60s pop. The group’s upcoming full-length Ride Out the Dark provides a swimmy kind of sound, perfect for drowsy seaside sunbathing or long highway drives.
Many a Portland band has attempted to bring the urgent, often dream-like tones of British pop to Stumptown, but the only group who has brought it to bear with any success is this batch of former Oklahomans. As such, guitars and keyboards take the lead, working through a variety of effects that when combined with Sam Alexander’s slowly melting vocals provide maximum emotional affect.