WHO: Lizzy Ellison (vocals), Riley Geare (drums), Tiana Garoogian (keyboards, vocals), Zach Nelson (guitar), Dasha Shleyeva (bass)
SOUNDS LIKE: A vintage vinyl collection of everything your parents forced you to listen to as a child, re-evaluated with adult anxieties.
FOR FANS OF: Foxygen, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Ducktails, Tennis, Pure Bathing Culture, Here We Go Magic.
Cardioid will play its last show as a Portland band this week. It also happens to be Cardioid's second-ever show as a full band.
"I feel like Portland is too familiar," says singer Lizzy Ellison. "I'm too comfortable, and if I get comfortable I'm not my best self."
Ellison spent the last nine years on plenty of local stages, then behind a keyboard and microphone on behalf of Radiation City, one of the city's most popular bands. In November, on the heels of her breakup with founding member Cameron Spies, among several other reasons, the group announced that it was coming to an abrupt end—and so, too, is Ellison's time as an Oregonian. In two months, she'll be living in Los Angeles.
"My identity with this city was with another person for so long," she says over a rare cup of coffee. "I've tried to live by letting go of any sort of control in the past year."
Related: "Radiation City is Breaking Up."
Considering the many ways she's upending her life, it might seem odd that she would go directly into another project. But Ellison implies that Cardioid is her attempt to cut the final lifeline tying her to relying financially on her music. "I'm disillusioned with whatever the music industry is," she says. "I want to tour with my friends and have a good time and not worry about how much money we're making or if our booking agent's going to drop us."
The band owes its origins to former Unknown Mortal Orchestra drummer Riley Geare, who helped Ellison record a slew of scrappy demos back in 2014. Upon Radiation City's decay, Geare encouraged Ellison to re-rummage through the songs with the ears of someone going solo.
"What I realized was everything was still totally applicable," she says. "I talk about time travel a lot because music is this nonlinear thing that goes in and out of your life. The only time that I'm ever clairvoyant with myself is when I'm writing lyrics."
Similarly, Parts Dept., Cardioid's debut, is a smattering of time-stamped genres, rapt with the same retro tactility of Radiation City, but so much more immediate. A country-tinged sing-along, a maundering midnight ballad, a polyrhythmic psych romp, straight-up R&B—all of it stitched together with bracing honesty.
"This is really personal," she says, "and it's about just dealing with love or the absence of. It's so raw, so even if it's not your style of music, it attracts you, and I think [Radiation City] sort of lost track of that."
By the time Ellison leaves for her new home sometime in March, she'll already have another album in the can. She considers Cardioid's upcoming Holocene show just one more step in stepping away. Or, as she puts it, "proving to myself that I can write on my own, that I'm happy with it—that I don't need anyone else to help me."
SEE IT: Cardioid plays Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison St., with Moorea Masa & the Mood, Orkis and Dashenka, on Thursday, Jan. 26. 8:30 pm. $6 advance, $8 day of show. 21+.