Top of the Pops (and a Million Other Genres) in PDX Now
First of all, it would have been too easy to simply list the national and international touring acts that call Portland home, either because they’re from here or moved here to be a part of what we already had going, and call it a day. So, as much as we may love Sleater Kinney, Modest Mouse, Portugal. the Man, Sally Ford, Red Fang, and the like, they are not on this list.
This list is for Portland bands and solo acts that are under-recognized, even here in their home town, in some cases despite having several albums and tours under their collective belts. These are also the bands to watch for in 2017, bands that just might break out into the national and international spotlight.
1 – Cat Hoch
Cat Hoch is turning into a local phenomenon. The local art student turned fuzz pop vocalist graced just about every best of list in the city last year and was even featured as part of one of Chuck Palahniuk’s comic book releases for Fight Club.
2 – 1939 Ensemble
One of the two Jazz groups to make this list, 1939 Ensemble blends avant-garde jazz with elements of post-rock and just about every other genre, to achieve a sound unlike anything you are likely to have heard before.
3 – Little Star
Another pop phenomenon that has hit the city in the last few years, Little Star is primed to reach bigger audiences locally and nationwide in 2017.
4 – Federale
Imagine the Spaghetti Western themes of Ennio Morricone re-imagined by a seven-piece rock group headed by Brian Jonestown Massacre bassist Collin Hegna and you have Federale.
5 – Fred & Toody Cole
Before you complain that Dead Moon could have just as easily been on the list of Portland bands in the introduction, keep in mind that Dead Moon is, sadly, no more. Since the passing of drummer Andrew Loomis in 2016, the remaining members of Dead Moon, Fred & Toody Cole, have set out on their own playing old and new songs here and around the world.
6 – bed.
Another fantastic post-whatever band from Portland bed. combines pop, rock, and punk sensibilities to achieve a sound that is truly transcendent.
7 – Mic Capes
Yes Portland has a hip-hop scene. And if there is a current most representative act of this small but growing scene, Mic Capes may just be it.
8 – Blue Cranes
What do you get when you combine two of the regions best saxophone players with a tight rhythm section and a pianist who’d certainly rather be playing musical toys than “grown up” instruments? You get our second jazz act, Blue Cranes.
9 – Roselit Bone
Roselit Bone plays “knife-fight music.” They play “psychotic cowboy music.” There really isn’t much more to add to that.
10 – Rabbits
Rabbits is the Portland three-piece sludge-thrash band most likely to step into the national spotlight once Red Fang quits hogging it.
11 – Eyelids
A band made up of supporting members of the Decemberists, Guided By Voices, and Elliott Smith’s backing band? Seriously, make a point of seeing Eyelids now so you can you say you saw them then.
12 – Wooden Indian Burial Ground
A three-piece garage rock band with psychedelic undertones, Wooden Indian Burial Ground will move you, that’s for certain.
13 – Gaytheist
With three albums under their collective belt (one a split effort with Rabbits—see above) Portland punk/metal trio Gaytheist are ready for the international stage, though it may never be ready for them.
14 – Jenny Don’t and the Spurs
What do you get when you take a singer/songwriter mining for that classic country gold and back her with some of Portland’s best indie rock musicians? You get Jenny Don’t and the Spurs.
15 – Orquestra Pacifico Tropical
Lastly, the biggest act on the list, ten-piece Orquesta Pacifico Tropical plays Portland’s best Cumbia and utilizes musicians from several of the city’s best bands, including percussionist Papi Fimbres.
The Best Bands in the Rose City
It may not be a comprehensive list, but you could do far worse on any given Friday in Portland than spending the evening with one or more of these acts. Catch them now, while they’re still playing in town.