One of our favorite punkish projects in these parts, the trio Great Western Plain, dropped a single this week, the jarring and teeth-rattlingly trebly “Wipers.” Pushing seven minutes long, they’re definitely whipping up some new flavors here, riding a scorcher riff way longer than you might think necessary, with few dynamics or modulation, before tearing up the foundation in favor of a psych freakaut, a bold and fairly unprecedented move considering their prior oeuvre. Love the logic of a band so unconcerned with studio mastery (a/k/a “sounding good”) going all out for a sonic jam, but it works. Can hear the strains of defiant styles of ’80s post-punk, kraut-rock, and Japanese new noise. The track foreshadows a record to come titled Elastic Smile. Good stuff. | greatwesternplain.bandcamp.com
Congratulations to the Beatles Night crew for getting some effusively worded praise in the national mags this week. (As we type, a review in Rolling Stone has been picked up by Yahoo and the Huffington Post.) It’s a truly excellent thing for a fine group of hardworking musicians, some of whom first launched this project all the way back in 2003, as the sold-out house of fans at the State Theatre could attest. But while the attention is certainly welcome, it does come as a bit of a surprise. We tend to think cover nights have a strictly local appeal, combining the comfort foods of canonized pop songs, familiar regional musicians (who may even be friends), and a venue that inspires intimacy and commonality. But maybe we’re wrong about that. Maybe cover nights are less nationally ubiquitous and more ingrained in the cultural fabric of Portland than we realize. Maybe we’re really, really good at them, so good that we’ve transcended their function as a boozy weeknight fix into something far bigger. Is the rest of the world actually thirsting for a Beatles night? Can the cover night be our next cultural export? Is there a Forbes list for this kind of thing?
We could see the Portland band Welterweight being a favorite for smart music fans out there whose record-collecting habits and audiophilic obsessions have been halted by parenthood, cynicism, or the mass shift to digital formats. The four-piece group play a rousing, energetic take on modern folk/rock on a new EP titled Bar Talk in a Flat..., blending acoustic guitar, Mellotron, mandolin, and slide guitar over five slick tracks. It’d be adult contemporary if those words meant what they’re supposed to and not Michael Bublé. They say “hard soft rock.” We say very good. See them at a record-release show December 13 at Blue. | welterweight.bandcamp.com