Our little corner of the world

Relax, proponents of traditional marriage: Only two of these people are hitched to each other.

Relax, proponents of traditional marriage: Only two of these people are hitched to each other.

Here at TS&tN, it may appear that I advocate for the awesomeness of the city of Portland rather often, perhaps to the point of sounding gratuitous. Well, that’s because my city is an awesome city. Let me give you the skinny. First, if you’ve clicked on any of the links I’ve posted that pertain to upcoming concerts, you’re already aware of the trainloads of musicians who pass through these parts. As you can imagine, my show-going reports only skim the surface.

You may protest. Perhaps your discord might sound like this: “But TS&tN! The number of performers whose tours stop in Portland is precious and meek compared to the happenings in cities like LA! And New York! What say you?”

I would say that Portland offers a liberal dose of live music, with heavy representation in the indie rock world as well as regular blues, jazz, punk, and occasional hip hop shows, for a city its size (about 575,000 people in Portland-proper, not including the outer areas such as the ‘Sham, the ‘Tron, and Happy Valley. Yes, that is its name). Yet I, a person of humble means, can afford to see a lot of these shows and still drink gallons of microbrews and PBRs. And when I crave a scene of a slightly more fresh and clean variety, I can breathe easy because I live in the cleanest U.S. city that also receives big ups for sustainable municipal practices, friendliness towards bikes, and food cartiness.

Of course, the city is not without issues. Portland’s current unemployment rate is disproportionately high, and depending on who you ask, the streets could be paved with methamphetamine. Plus, all that damn rain. It comes in many forms, often in a persistent drizzle, occasionally in miniature waterfalls, and sometimes hardly at all despite a thick sheet of gray that envelopes the sky. No wonder the residents get so sad.

But despite all that depression and wetness, or maybe because of that depression and wetness, the musical community in Portland churns out sweet tunes month after month. A couple weeks ago, Viva Voce, Portland-natives-by-way-of-Alabama, released Rose City, its fifth studio album. The hastiness with which the band put together the album – all the songs written and recorded in a month – does not show itself in the music. The guitars shake with a kind of quiet, melancholic power, a signature of Viva Voce’s past work similar to other married-couple-bands like Yo La Tengo. The album serves as a love letter of sorts to the band’s adopted city, as evidenced by Anita Robinson’s declaration that she wants to go back to the place where it rains all the time in the title track as well as the natural imagery in “Flora.” We could fall back on stereotypes here. I could say the album provides a fitting soundtrack for sipping coffee-flavored stout and gazing upon an overcast afternoon, and I don’t think I’d be wrong. In spite of that depiction, the joy that Viva Voce takes in their trade as well as their chosen location keeps the effect from getting too gloomy. Because that could lead to massive meth and/or street food consumption, according to some.

Viva Voce will play at the Wonder Ballroom on Saturday, June 20. Cut Off Your Hands and Ages will also play.

  • Viva Voce ~ Rose City ~ Barsuk

Rose City

Flora

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4 Responses to “Our little corner of the world”


  1. 1 Mark June 9, 2009 at 5:11 AM

    Nice post. Such a good album. Sometimes they remind me of a band from Davis in the ’90s called Thin White Rope. I’m waiting to hear back from Kevin for a possible Q&A. Fingers crossed…

  2. 4 Mark June 25, 2009 at 12:50 AM

    Interview posted:http://thedaysoflore.com/. You just have to sift through unruly black metal band logos.


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