Metal Feathers + Phantom Buffalo

Music seen at SPACE Gallery, July 19
By CHRISTOPHER GRAY  |  July 23, 2008

The Year in Cult Maze Spin-Offs has taken yet another auspicious turn. The grimy indie-pop band Metal Feathers features Cult Maze frontman Jay Lobley and guitar and vocals, along with his brother Derek Lobley on Jason Rogers of Diamond Sharp on keys and bass, respectively.

Metal Feathers are most notable for being a lot of things their precursors were not: loose, cheeky, almost beaming. Jay Lobley steps out from the haunted urban decay of his older songs with some smart couplets (“The turtle, the tortoise/They are both too slow for us”) and a newfound flair; he occasionally breaks into a speak-singy drawl out of the Jonathan Richman (Modern Lovers) songbook. Rogers and Derek Lobley chime in for frequent but surprising three-part harmonies. Althea Pajak holds court on a spartan drum kit in back, looking amusingly tired of the schtick. Some of the band’s songs deserve a boost in tempo, but they’ve already got a couple of excellent cuts under their belt (and probably the best band name in town). Sample four tracks at myspace.com/metalfeathers, and get ready to sing along at Geno’s on July 27 with another of Portland’s most promising bands, the RattleSnakes.

Phantom Buffalo’s headlining set, marking the release of their latest album, Take to the Trees, was a bit of a letdown, based on the band’s impeccable standards. They played their new album, recorded a full three years ago, front to back to make up the bulk of their set before loosening up with some newer stuff to cap out the night. The familiar sequencing sapped some energy from the performance, but it’s likely that rather than the traditional, celebratory CD-release bravado, this was a chance for the band to finally put a batch of songs to bed. Fortunately for us, the songs that haven’t been recorded yet are as hummable and more complex than anything they’ve yet released.

Related: Diamond Sharp, And then some..., Treble Treble release party, More more >
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