Everything old is new again

Portland dons a cape and soars this summer
By SAM PFEIFLE  |  June 20, 2014


If you actually like music — and don’t just enjoy pontificating on which bands are “successful” and why — things couldn’t get much better for you this summer in Portland.

Or perhaps you missed Old Port Fest (like, well, me — I’m uncomfortable with crowds). As much as that event might be a shit-show of faux-Bourbon Street nonsense, the way Portland effortlessly throws up bands that any tourist would think are riding hits on the radio is impressive as hell.

The talent pool is as wide as it is deep, and the months where Maine turns into the best place on Earth are swimming with interesting releases. If you’ve been listening to local stuff for a good while, you ought to be particularly pleased.

June 18: Unless you grabbed this issue of the Phoenix the day it hit the streets, you’re outta luck. Three of the smartest New Englanders in hip-hop — Brzowski on vocals, C$Burns with production and various instruments, and Mo Niklz on the turntables — debut tonight as Vinyl Cape, an electronic-rock kind of goth pop (see last week’s Wax Tablet). Get thee to their bandcamp page (vinylcape.bandcamp.com) if only to check out the mix Burns has put together, Gloomy Sunday, featuring a title track from Billy Holiday, who says all you need to know about Vinyl Cape here: “Death is no dream, for in death I’m caressing you/ with the last breath of my soul, I’ll be blessing you.”

But their free, three-song initial release, Famine First, is better. Truly, “Nervous Man in a $4 Room,” the height of their merger of Manchester sound and EDM, is among the best songs released this year. This has the makings of a truly kick-ass Rap Night, at Asylum.

June 20: If the initial single is in any indication, Endless Jags’ new Sell the Banquet is just the follow-up folks were hoping for after hearing their self-titled EP of 2012. “Surfer” is crazy-catchy indie rock, with Oscar Romero’s lead vocals reverbed and reminiscent of a more substantial Shins.

The Jags, who play SPACE Gallery tonight with Rough Francis and Fat Creeps, have talent to go around, featuring Derek Gierhan (Marie Stella, KGFREEZE, Cougars Kill Cobras, Space Elevator, Bully Mammoth, etc.) on guitar and DJ Moore (Jaw Gems, Brenda, Lady Lamb, Marie Moreshead, Foam Castles, etc.) on farfisa, plus Tyler Jackson (who fronts Foam Castles) with Oscar and DJ and Tyler Quist (but we’ll get to that later). And that’s just a start.

June 28: Hopefully, people aren’t sleeping on what’s going on in the Augusta/Waterville/Bangor area. There’s more than just KahBang (obviously), including quite a bit of hip hop. Tonight Shadow Rhythmic release their second album, Monster City, at Mainely Brews, in Waterville. Caro Khan, Perspective, and Indigenous Immigrants get everyone in the mood.

June 28: Take note — Bunker Brewing Company has just all of a sudden got one of the best slates of shows around. Tonight they play host to Foam Castles, who celebrate the release of Through that Door on Teenarena Records (see Nick Schroeder’s review, “Before They Wash Away,” May 30), with Hallelujah the Hills and Fur. So far the Castles have only given us “Sycamore,” a 2:10 piece of acoustic, guitar-fueled rock-pop: “You’ve become such a narcissist/ You’re regretfully on my list/ A list that I would never wish.”
In this third release from Tyler Jackson and company, it’s hard to know what to expect. And that’s all you know need to know about what makes this band so intriguing.

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