Okay, I’m Biased

Looking forward to a summer of Jerks, Phantoms, and Tules
By SAM PFEIFLE  |  June 18, 2008
beat_jerks_inside28394.jpg
TEN YEARS ON: The Jerks of Grass finally
have a disc!

Here’s a question: Is our local music scene actually better because so little national and international talent comes here? Traveling around the country (I’m writing this in Columbus, Ohio), it’s clear to me that few other cities (Nashville, Austin, the other Portland, maybe still Seattle) have better local scenes than ours, judging by press coverage and local-music sections in places like Borders, but that virtually every city gets better national acts than we do.

Just this week, Columbus scored Iron & Wine and the Raconteurs (who did come here to open for Dylan during that experiment with national booking at the Portland Sports Complex, but still...).

Isn’t it likely that music fans have thrown their entertainment dollars toward local acts here because there’s simply nothing else to go see on a Friday night in Portland (with apologies to SPACE, the Station, and One Longfellow — who have been attracting some indie and mid-major touring talent)? Is it possible those of us who really enjoy local music should be thankful there’s no State Theatre, or a sweet outdoor amphitheater like every other decent city has, bringing in bands like Wilco to distract people from our homegrown talent?

Maybe that’s stupid. Maybe it’s obvious that local bands would love more opportunity to open for national acts and that Portland’s reputation around the country would be superior if touring bands were having good experiences here.

Still, the fact remains that much of the music to get excited about this summer comes from local talent. Even with a place like SPACE, it’s the all-ages rock show with COVERED IN BEES, CONFUSATRON, and MAN-WITCH on June 29 that’s drawn my attention. All ages at SPACE? It’s about time.

Speaking of facts, I’d like to see someone argue that July 19 through 26 isn’t the most significant week of local music in this city’s history. You’ll have to read on for the details, though, as here’s a rundown of what to watch for this summer:

JUNE 25 Milled Pavement seems to have really found its groove as a label. Last year, the much-discussed Project Dark album, a collaboration between Moshe and KGB, dropped to much acclaim. Tonight, MP releases another long-term collaboration: the TULESA Hunter’s Workshop pairing Moshe and Nomar Slevik. Like Project Dark, you’re not going to find a lot of happy thoughts here, as Moshe’s trademark low-end synths get even more industrial and chaotic behind Slevik’s grunting and grinding vocals, turning out phrases like “all my day, working a job that I really hate ... wishing that I could pass away,” from “Waiting to Fight,” which sports a nice keyboard line in the intro.

The album actually opens with what sounds like a sample (but I can’t find the reference material) claiming that, “the Christ that we have come to know was invented by men for their own purposes” ... “god is dead/There is no supreme being/We are alone.” I’m on board. Anybody else?

Get with the program at the White Heart for the release and listening party.

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