Jared Mees, Life Is Long (Tender Loving Empire)

[PORTLAND POP] As co-founder of Portland record label and retail store Tender Loving Empire, Jared Mees has ended up helming, well, an empire, breaking some of the biggest local names in indie pop and releasing albums from nationally known, enigmatic singer-storytellers like Willis Earl Beal and Andy Shauf. Meanwhile, Mees has written and released three LPs of his own punk-adjacent songwriting through Tender Loving Empire. In the past, it’s been up for debate whether he truly deserves a spot on the roster among the artists he’s promoted. With new release Life Is Long, however, Mees has created something dynamic and philosophical—a glittering, well-produced album that functions, perhaps unintentionally, as an amalgamation of definitive Portland sounds. Alternating track by track between effusive, straight-ahead folk songs (“Signal Fire”) and tongue-in-cheek, Auto-Tuned dream pop (“Right Now We’re Always Alive”), Life Is Long effectively channels the artists who surround Mees: the inscrutable folk pop of Y La Bamba, the orchestral expansiveness of Typhoon and the percussive punk sensibility of Mees’ longtime collaborator, Finn Riggins. Overall, Life is Long doesn’t so much confirm Mees as an artist in his own right as much as it proves how deeply dialed in he is to the motley sounds and artists of this city. But the result is well worth any Portland music hound’s listen. 
SEE IT: Jared Mees plays Doug Fir Lounge, 830 E Burnside St., with the Domestics and New Move, on Sunday, June 4. 9 pm. $1$10-$10 advance, $12 day of show. 21+. $10-$12. 21+.