green circles

Jigsaw/The Power 7-inch

(Luminal Records)

Stripped-down and serious, Green Circles are hitting their stride. With texture over volume and poise over facade, the new seven-inch fresh on tonight's merch table (Jigsaw/The Power) is a taut take on post-punk/New Wave pastiche. Building on the icy stoicism and art-gallery aesthetic found on 2002's Hearts Increase EP, this band buzzes with everything that made college radio so great back in '83: jabs of guitar, wisps of synths, faux-Brit vocals, and cold, cold, rock-'n'-roll minimalism. House of Love and Magazine references and forgivably copped Ian Curtis poses might be as common as Chuck Taylors in Portland clubs these days. The difference between this band and the rest? The Green Circles have proof on plastic that there is more to playing moody post-punk dirges than short-haircuts and blackshirts. (Richard Shirk)


Behind the Barber

(Silber Records)

Over the past decade, Portland's Rollerball has built a reputation as one of the Northwest's most creative bands. Last year's Real Hair found the band experimenting with the eclectic ingredients that have become their calling card: free jazz horns, moody rock atmospherics and subtle dub textures. But where that album occasionally veered into the slightly embarrassing and overindulgent, Rollerball's latest, Behind the Barber, presents the band's most crafted and cohesive musical statement to date. The album comprises mostly new tracks interspersed with a few remixes. Of the new tracks here, "Slits Arandas" is the clear standout. In it Rollerball distills its twin poles of eclectic song-oriented work and difficult, at times atonal, improvisation into one spellbinding 15-minute composition. Murky bossa-nova funk dissolves into bleating free-jazz horns, then slowly resurfaces. It's fascinating listening that shows the well-honed aesthetic of a veteran band mapping out its own unique terrain. (Matt Wright)


In the Leap Year

(Greyday Productions)

In The Leap Year is the second solo release from Stellamarie guitarist Lauren K. Newman, following 2001's You and No One Else, but it sounds more like the work of a tight full band. Newman's talents as a drummer are on display, but what's more surprising is her unique and emotionally resonant guitar technique. Using an unusual pitch-shifting effect, she warps dark riffs into peeling ribbons of alienation and despair. The centerpiece of the album is a brilliant three-song trilogy beginning with "To An Angel on No Condition," in which Newman pleads with the heavens over chunky riffs, only to stop short and explode into "Varientnoiz," a three-car pileup of blasting experimental noise. The trilogy concludes with "Will Meets Strength on Courage," a depressive meditation on regret and possibility that's by turns elegiac and propulsive. Taken as a whole, In the Leap Year presents a powerful and at times disturbing artistic statement, the work of an unrelentingly expressive performer pushing her craft to extremes. (Matt Wright)

Green Circles play with Telephone, The Prids and Jackie Thursday, June 10, at Berbati's Pan, 231 SW Ankeny St., 248-4579. 9:30 pm. Cover. 21+.