[WEIRDO OPERA] In the eyes of those haggard, cynical souls who haven't been out to a local show in the past decade or so, Portland's music scene has grown entirely toothless, precious and twee. And they have their talking points, this lot: Plenty of say-nothing folk-pop bands popped up in the Decemberists' wake. But don't be so quick to lump Loch Lomond in with them.
Loch Lomond—led by Ritchie Young, who keeps the pace with guitar and dares his band to follow his vocal high-wire acts—has made largely acoustic music in the eight years since Young began playing solo material under the moniker. But Loch Lomond's knack for hooks means the band's fare rarely bores listeners, and Young's songs—peyote-trip folk rock meditations informed by the darker elements of Celtic music and the druggier side of Americana—are too bizarre to really be considered twee.
Loch Lomond's latest, Little Me Will Start a Storm, is the burliest and least twee entry in the band's catalog to date. With the exception of "Egg Song"—a guitar-and-vocals track that sounds like a Thom Yorke demo covered by Donovan—each tune indulges in its own peculiar wall of sound, be it the Talking Heads funk-pop grind of "Blue Lead Fences" or the pissed-off sneaker wave-swells of "Blood Bank." Even on the less-raucous tracks, like the Magnetic Fields-meets-Enya slow-burner "Earth Has Moved Again," Loch Lomond gives listeners something new to grab onto each time out. At the end of the day though, it's not about whether a band is acoustic or electric, or whether it's smart or dumb (there's Ramones-dumb and Ke$ha dumb—I'm talking about the former). What matters is whether a band has vision and talent. Loch Lomond has both and the band is at the height of its game right now.
GO: Loch Lomond releases Little Me Will Start a Storm on Saturday, Feb. 26, at the Alberta Rose Theatre, with Ramona Falls. 9 pm. $10 advance, $12 day of show. 21+.