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Sunday, August 21, 2005

Portland Rocks For Free

I take special interest in Portland's music scene, in part because there are so many worthwhile bands down there, but also because there's a good chance I'll someday end up calling Portland home. You can imagine my disappointment when I found out two weeks too late about Portland's PDX Pop Now! music festival. I can see you wondering: "big deal, you missed yet another festival you couldn't have afforded tickets for anyway". Not-uh homes, PDX ain't like that! You persist: "you don't even like crowds". You got me there, but PDX is oxygen. In their bid to become America's greatest city, Portland ain't leaving no stone unturned, no corner, um, unturned and no song unsung. It's a beautiful thing man.

But, like I said, I missed it. Luckily, I did not miss the compilation it produced, which I came across while hitting up Portland record stores this weekend. Two discs, seven dollars. That's $3.50 per disc. That's 17 cents per song. You see what I'm getting at? Portland rocks! And is it awesome? Well, the first disc opens with Sleater-Kinney and the second with Viva Voce, if that indicates anything to you. If it doesn't, let me spell it out: over the course of its 41 songs (many of them previously unreleased), PDX Pop Now! 2005 makes a case for Portland as the coolest music scene in the universe.

For those of you, like me, not currently from Portland (non-Portlanders, non-Portlandians?), I'm prepared to share me booty. Not like that, like this:

The Minders - "I'm So Low"

Stunning melody and male/female vocal interplay from another band that occasionally melds country/folk with more aggressive pop styles. "I'm So Low" is a great sing-along. I hear they are (were?) an E6 band too. Visit: The Minders.

The Blow - "Pile Of Gold"

I've been meaning to get heavily into The Blow lately after being introduced to her with "How Naked Are We Going To Get?". This otherwise unreleased song makes a perfect second date. This woman exudes style and playfulness. Visit: The Blow.

Alan Singley - "These Trees Are For Resting"

I need to make a compilation of songs about singing country songs. Martha Wainwright had a great one on her debut and now Alan Singley delivers this beautiful, quiet gem. Alan has the kind of voice I love to root for. "And the place is just jumping". Thank you for that Mr. Singley. Visit: Alan Singley.

The Gossip - "It's Over"

I very much like what I've heard of The Gossip, but I didn't know Beth Ditto could sing like this. Wow! I must've been listening to the wrong stuff. She sounds like a cross between Dolly Parton and Lisa Kekaula, if you can imagine that. This song is like a lost hit from the 80s, and one that actually deserved to be a hit. Visit: The Gossip.

Sunset Valley - "Smallest Man"

A hilarious song, from beginning to end. There are, quite simply, not enough songs about phone sex. Cheers to Sunset Valley for contributing one more to the pool. Visit: Sunset Valley.

Norfolk & Western - "A Gilded Age"

There are drinking songs and driving songs, and then there's this: a drinking and driving song. Great lyrics here, great pedal steel in the background too. N & W might be the biggest name in this post, and this song certainly makes it seem well-deserved. Visit: Norfolk & Western

PDX Pop Now! 2005 has come and gone, but its website is still up and it has lots of stuff worth checking out, like pictures, T-shirts and more information on this compilation. It lists several places where the comp is for sale online, but the only one that actually had it when I checked was Seattle's Sonic Boom. Have at it, kids!


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