Press Play: Music News for the Week of November 15

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Press Play: Music News for the Week of November 15
by Robert Ham

Eyelids with John Cameron Mitchell and producer Peter Buck

Eyelids with producer Peter Buck John Clark

You like music. You like news. You like music news. Well, you’re in luck, brothers and sisters. Press Play is your weekly guide to what’s going down in the Portland music scene and beyond. But, hey, enough of my yakkin’. Whaddaya say? Let’s boogie!

One of our favorite events of the year, Treefort Music Fest just revealed the first wave of artists that will be taking over downtown Boise next March. If you’ve ever been to Treefort, you know they bring the fire every year, and the 2020 edition is no exception. Dominating the big font portion of their poster are dream poppers Chromatics, psych-soul singer/songwriter Omar Apollo, neo-R&B delight Joshy Soul, and jazz dynamo Christian Scott Atunde Adjuah. In the smaller font section there… is… a… lot. Including a ton of local artists. To name just a few: Myke Bogan, Blossom, Help, John Craigie, Wet Fruit… Whew. It goes on and on and on from there. Check out the Treefort Fest site for more info or strain your eyes looking at the poster below.

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Advocacy group and trade association MusicPortland and the Portland City Council recently announced the creation of the MusicPortland Policy Council (MPC), a community group that will be advising our local leaders on policies to support the many people in our city that make up the local music scene.

According to the press release announcing this new alliance, the MPC will be talking with commissioners about ways to “better support the music industry, including permitting and enforcement, small music business supports, additional musician loading zones, development and design standards, and other music supportive policies.”

The seven-person council is made up of an impressively diverse array of Portlanders, including DJ Ambush, the program manager at TheNumberz.FM, mastering engineer Adam Gonsalves, Musicians Union president Bruce Fife, and the director of marketing for Doug Fir Lounge Rochelle Hunter.

“The partnership with MusicPortland and the musician’s union has already been vital to finding creative solutions to the challenges musicians face,” Commissioner Chloe Eudaly said in that same press release. “For example, musician loading zones weren’t something even remotely on our radar. Without their advocacy, it never would have happened. I’m excited for what’s next.”


Eyelids, the prolific psych-pop quintet featuring John Moen (the Decemberists) and Chris Slusarenko (formerly of Guided by Voices and Sprinkler), are releasing another record this year, and it’s a doozy. The band is joining forces with former R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck and Hedwig & the Angry Inch creator/Shrill co-star John Cameron Mitchell on Turning Time Around, a three-song EP of Lou Reed covers. Out on December 13 via Jealous Butcher Records, the collection is a benefit release to help defray the costs of the Alzheimer’s treatment for Mitchell’s mother, Joan.

True to form, the crew chose some deep cuts from Reed’s discography, including the title track, taken from Reed’s 2000 album Ecstasy, and “Waves of Fear,” originally found on the 1982 LP The Blue Mask, which you can check out below.

Also be on the lookout for The Accidental Falls, a new Eyelids full-length produced by Buck, to be released on Valentine’s Day. Isn’t it romantic?


In experimental music news, Pulse Emitter, the long-standing synth-based project of Daryl Groetsch, will be releasing Swirlings his first full-length album for Chicago label Hausu Mountain on January 17, 2020. Available on vinyl and digitally, the new full-length, according to the label, “bears the outward signs of the ambient record that seeks to evoke the experience of deep space travel, or observing a lush garden of alien flora from the deck of a starship.” That may sound hyperbolic, but after listening to this preview track from the album (after downing a gram of psilocybin mushrooms), I’d say they’re on to something.

Swirlings by Pulse Emitter


Early last week, Kip Berman announced that his beloved dream pop band The Pains of Being Pure At Heart had broken up. Formed in 2007, the band released four full-lengths, with the most recent being 2017’s The Echo of Pleasure. Berman will now focus his efforts on his solo project The Natvral, which released its first EP Know Me More last October.

On the POBPAH Instagram account, Berman had this to say: “Pains was a distinct moment in my life. I started the group when I first moved to New York and completed our last record, The Echo of Pleasure, shortly before my daughter was born and I moved to Princeton, NJ. From that time forward, I never really felt the same—and the music I was creating didn’t feel the same either. But this is good, both for my heart and my music.”

A former Portland resident, Berman cut his teeth playing guitar in the indie rock group Jackie and, more importantly, interning here at the Mercury back in 2004-05. Were we ever so young?


Hopefully you read Jenni Moore’s post from last week about the opening of the new KEX Hotel on Northeast MLK Blvd. The first US outpost of this Icelandic-born company is hitting the ground running with events and performances. That all gets underway this weekend, with a free, all ages performance from Bay Area outfit Credit Electric on November 15, and a secret show featuring “an international, touring musician” in their Gym & Tonic basement space on November 18. The details and tickets for the latter will be available the morning of the show. Check out their full event schedule here.


The illustrious Ms. Moore also served up an announcement of this year’s newly-expanded Girl Fest. The sixth annual celebration of women and non-binary artists from the Northwest is going down on January 12 at Holocene, with a stellar lineup including Seattle-based electronic producer Chong Tha Nomad, pop artist Basil Strawberry, dreamy rockers Pool Boys, and more. Tickets for the main event are on sale now.


In less good news, Brian Setzer was forced to cancel all the dates on his upcoming “Christmas Rocks! Tour” on doctor’s orders, including his December 12 stop at the Ilani Resort and Casino in Ridgefield. Apparently, the former Stray Cat is dealing with a severe case of tinnitus.


In news that is both good and bad, CD Game Exchange announced this week that they would be ceasing operations. The retailer, started in 1996, primarily trafficked in used media (DVDs, vinyl, video games) and, for a while, had five locations throughout the Portland metro area. All of them were quietly shuttered over the course of this year, with the final nail being their shop on Southeast Hawthorne. But wait… there’s more…, Willamette Week is reporting that the location on Southeast 36th and Hawthorne was purchased by local musician and journalist Mo Troper, who is rebranding it as the Hawthorne Game Exchange. [Full disclosure: Mo has contributed many stories and reviews to the Mercury.] The new shop will continue to sell video games and vinyl but will also feature some vintage arcade games for customers to play.


Mark Yr Calendars: We have a full eight months to look wistfully out the window and long for summer’s arrival. If that yearning wasn’t strong enough, a handful of tours have been announced in recent weeks to fan our desirous hearts into a raging inferno. Among them is KISS, who announced the 75 dates for their “End of the Road” world tour (“the Final Tour Ever”), including a stop at the Sunlight Supply Amphitheater in Ridgefield on September 20, where there will be more pyrotechnics, more blood-spewing, and more useless merchandise to drain the bank accounts of their curiously rabid fanbase. Also stopping by the amphitheater up north on September 5 is the Black Crowes, the notoriously pugnacious Southern rock band, who will celebrate the 30th anniversary of their debut album Shake Your Money Maker with a big reunion tour next year. And on May 15, one of the strangest double-bills in recent memory: Journey and the Pretenders.

Other recently announced shows happening next year include a fine double dip of modern country courtesy of Sturgill Simpson and Tyler Childers at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum on May 1, and Ozzy Osbourne’s blessedly rescheduled solo date at the Moda Center on July 15. Revolution Hall will welcome in jazz/R&B pyro Brian Culbertson on June 7, and the ambling indie pop ensemble Real Estate on May 22. And over at Holocene, the buzzy glam/power pop quartet Hunny stops by for an all-ages show on March 29.

On a much more humble tip, there will be a celebration of the life and work of the late David Berman happening at Bunk Bar on January 4. Berman, a poet, writer, and musician behind the musical projects Silver Jews and Purple Mountains, took his own life this past August. Presented by erstwhile zinester Chickfactor and taking place on what would have been Berman’s 53rd birthday, the event features an awe-inspiring lineup of friends and fans, including former Silver Jews (and Pavement bandmates) Stephen Malkmus and Bob Nastanovich, guitarist William Tyler, and singer/songwriter Rebecca Gates, as well as readings from authors Kjerstin Johnson, Kevin Sampsell, and Jon Raymond. Proceeds from the show will benefit Moms Demand Action and Write Around PDX. Click here to get tickets. You’ll want to do that soon. This will sell out.

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