• Remember when we reported that WES HARTLEY was leaving Portland forever? The impulse wasn't wrong, per se, but thankfully that sad fate was quickly reversed. The dude did leave for the other coast awhile in late 2011 — likely taking whatever potential for legend of the then-newly released Splendora Colt record Hoods on the Water Tower with him — but he's been back in town since last spring. One of the city's finest and most genuine songwriters, Hartley's been playing scattered solo shows here and there, but we were thrilled to see surface some new recordings for the indie-country troubadour, a homemade CD-R titled Convenient Repairs featuring original hand-drawn covers. Haven't heard this doozy yet, but if there's one thing we know about WAH it's that he puts total heart and soul into his songs, to a disarming degree. And if we learned anything from Hoods, there's no correlation between formality and quality. Dig this up.
• Big week of announcements for the STATE THEATRE, huh? We get another chance to answer the eternal question of whether Animal Collective's music holds up live. Plus, Beck slides into the major-pop-star midsummer slot that Fiona Apple occupied last year, which seems like a pretty decent formula. Add that they're officially booking shows at PORT CITY, and Portland's unquestionably back on the roadmap for buzzworthy touring music. Meanwhile, though the ASYLUM has always brought some surprising acts to their venue, their summer schedule is curious indeed, with appearances by the Psychedelic Furs, Tesla, Aaron Carter, and '90s alt-rock group Fuel. The scuttlebutt there is that Alex Gray of Bangor's Waterfront Concerts is tossing them some acts. That's the only feasible explanation for the upcoming Portland visit by Ted Nugent, who has the worst politics in rock hands down.
• Watch out for the DIRIGIMUS COLLECTIVE touring the Art Walk in a roving van this Friday. You'll probably hear them before you see them.
• DEAD TREND, an '80s hardcore punk throwback group, slap down their debut record False Positive this week, and make it official with a show at Mathew's on May 5. These dudes are interesting: they were first conceived as a fictitious band in drummer Mike Fournier's novel Hidden Wheel (Three Rooms Press, 2011). Then they were real, a band making music pitched to sound like it's from basements in the '80s (some of them are old enough to have been teenagers then). They've got the mannerism down: False Positive sounds unironically, unselfconsciously poached in the Reagan era; covering work woes, political disaffection, and symptoms of refusal about as snarly and vile as S.O.A. or early Negative Approach. Twenty-one songs in 28 minutes suggests a blistering pace, and yeah it's fierce, but we don't see why there can't be a few more Discharge-style thrashers mixed in. All midtempo rants and we get the spirit but lose the feeling. A refreshing way to "get at" punk and an unusual band for sure, hear False Positive at deadtrend.bandcamp.com.