Fall sees the heavyweights with new material

This is gonna be big
By SAM PFEIFLE  |  September 14, 2011

This happens every year. Summer seems like it should be the time for local bands to make hay with new releases, but they're too busy playing festival gigs or good-dollar private parties and never get around to it. Then fall hits, and it's like the tap's been turned back on.

We've got four albums being released locally just this coming week, and a total of at least 14 before the end of November, which makes for a breakneck pace. And you'll see that these aren't just a bunch of first timers here.

Already out (sorta) is HUAK's Yorba Linda, a 10-track full-length you can grab digitally as of September 9 via their Bandcamp page, and vinyl copies of which will ship somewhere 'round Halloween. We'll give that the full review treatment when the release gig is scheduled. Probably. For the time being know that the album is noisy and frenetic and has a dark silliness to it. Put that together with Ron Harrity's engineering, and you should get the general idea.

Now for a date-by-date rundown, with fuller write-ups for this week's releases:

SEPTEMBER 15 | KRIS RODGERS AND THE DIRTY GEMS release a self-titled EP at the Empire. Those who remember Rodgers from Highway Jackson, of the Dirty Bar Campaign, will have to readjust themselves, but if you've been following any of his piano-based singalong nights, or work with Kurt Baker or the Goodnight Process, these piano-based pop-rock tunes will make a lot of sense.

There are lots of bouncy chords, singalong choruses that wouldn't sound totally out of place on the Grease soundtrack, and turnarounds that wrap things up with nice little musical bows. Rodgers does retain that old rocker belt-it-out ethos, though, so some of the songs have more edge than you'd think, even if "Think It Over" has a country vibe to it and "Jack & Jill" is mostly jazz.

The best tune is probably "Down," which features a cool fall away to a straight piano lead and has the chorus that's easiest to get behind.

September 17 | COMPANY release Night Ground at SPACE. More of a songwriting collective than a band, Company feature Portlander Christopher Teret and can sometimes be brilliant in that way that Magnolia Electric Co. and Bonnie "Prince" Billy are. There's a ramshackle and raw feel to these recordings, done a good while back with Ron Harrity, but just now being released. It's their third full-length, following a pair of discs on Brah Records, an offshoot of Jagjaguar (Bon Iver, most notably).

With three active songwriters, you get a lot of different looks here, opening with ethereal guy-girl folk, moving into grungy country-rock, and then going to ironic indie-folk à la Soltero. The vocals can be wobbly (probably on purpose), but they're always imbued with feeling and completely believable and you never know which instruments might be backing them.

"Winter Work" is maybe the best track, fronted by Stephanie Rabins at her most aggressive, with a twangy electric guitar focus and a melancholy tale of the time "since you went away."


September 18 | LAURA DARRELL releases Mad Mad Me at One Longfellow. A classically trained singer and actress who performed with the PSO at 13 and has been on many a theatrical stage, Darrell has teamed here with Con Fullam, the songwriter-producer who did that Amazing Music of Mainers record last year, for a six-song EP that serves as introduction to her vocal talents.

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