September 23rd, 2008 5:33 pm | by NILINA MASON-CAMPBELL Music | Posted In: Columns, News

PDXLR8R: Under Review (Part 1)

Cover[Full disclosure: a handful of Nilina's photos appear in this issue, including E*Rock's contributor's portrait and the in the house show photo essay on page 40.]

Each year, XLR8R tackles a new city. They've previously been quite a bit more cosmopolitan and above the radar than this Rose City issue—with previous cities Berlin, New York and Paris (with a cover designed by the ubiquitous So Me) as obvious recipients of the full-issue treatment. Just so you understand: when we're talking themed issue, we're talking themed issue. This isn't simply a case of Portland related stories being relegated to the back pages; the ENTIRE 112 page issue is dedicated to Portland. Sweet, huh?

So why focus on Portland? Here's the explanation from editor Vivian Host:

Past city issues have focused on Berlin, Paris, and New York, but funny enough, the Portland issue was more difficult to put together than all of those. There are quite literally hundreds, maybe even thousands of artists and bands there, not to mention graphic designers and bike builders, and they travel in squads—narrowing it down to "the best" inevitably means overlooking someone amazing.

We've been perusing the pages of the issue entitled "PDXLR8R," looking for pros and cons and making judgments. Available at such retail locations as 360 Vinyl (where I bought my copy), Rad Summer, Anthem Records, Local 35 and Liza Rietz in NW, the issue is also available in PDF format on the magazine's website. Pick up a copy (or click on the digital edition) and follow along!

First off, let's start with the cover. Designed by Audio Dregs head honcho E*Rock (aka Eric Mast), it uses a palette of day-glo yellow and orange with a bit of magenta for good measure. Mast creates a pyramid/temple of sorts, an image entirely appropriate to this ode to Portland. There's little text on the cover as it forgoes the typical cover tags of mass market tabloids in favor of presenting the illustration in its full glory. Much smaller is Mast's own signature, which marks the second time in under two years that the name E*Rock has been drawn onto an XLR8R cover. The last time? When Klaxons appeared on the cover in January 2007, designer Paper Rad drew the name of buddy E*Rock onto a tank top adorning one of the illustrated characters.

Page 16: Holocene is on a hot-streak! This past June we brought you a post about Nylon crushing on Holocene. Where that article focused on the label aspect, XLR8R turns its gaze to Holocene's club origins. You get a history lesson and much more plus pretty pictures of the interior.


Fist Fite

Page 18:
It's rather funny that Fist Fite mention getting banned from the Doug Fir in the group's XLR8R profile, when the portrait that accompanies the article is shot by Doug Fir booker Alicia J. Rose.

DJ spread

Page 70: Of the 12 individuals that grace XLR8R's two page spread of mighty fine local DJs, six have appeared in my "Hang the DJ" installments.

Breakfast Mountain

10 Worst Things

Page 76: Breakfast Mountain founder and song-smith Zack Osterlund gets cut completely out of the lineup as they are portrayed as a duo of Doubledutch's Dhani Rosa and Ghosties' Devin Gallagher.

Page 79: I think the mag's page titled "10 Worst Things About Portland" hits many nails on the heads. It's only fair that celebratory (but unbiased) coverage be balanced with criticism; criticism along the lines of "Everyone is white" and how restuarant prices are on par with San Francisco—when the working wage isn't. Whether it's inadvertent or not, some of the points are hilarious. I don't know if it's just because the examples present such great visuals (such as "Portland is the grandaddy when it comes to people trying to make a living off popsicle sticks, yarn, and a hot-glue gun." God's eyes anyone?) or simply because they're true.

Mr. Jewel, I presumePage 103: Glass Candy's Johnny Jewel strikes a pose on the floor of his recording studio. In between his contention that the city is "reaching a boiling point" that's he's happy to be a part of, the Italo master sheds light on his recording techniques, where he records, how to achieve the "Italian sound" and the fact that he doesn't have a single instrument at home.

Verdict: Many times throughout the issue, XLR8R explains that this is not an attempt to present Portland in be-all and end-all terms, but rather just give an in-depth glimpse. They say they could've filled three issues with PDX related content. I believe them. And I'd buy them too. I've already discovered a new favorite in Page 35 star Benoît Pioulard. And while I'm familiar with many of the artists featured (which isn't only musicians, but filmmakers like Matt McCormick and Cat Tyc and illustrator Carson Ellis) some new ones are definitely popping up on my radar.

I dare someone to go through and count how many references Copy gets in the text. I'll award a prize! Now get on it! Seriously, frequent mentions of the same people over and over and over again (Copy, E*Rock, White Fang) by all sorts of other people make the issue seem as inbred as Portland. That's not a diss.

Other things to keep an eye out for, contest or no contest: the repeated appearance of the phrase "freak flag," Guidance Counselor, Dirty Mittens, Southern Belle, the word/concept "Cascadia," a picture of an actual food fight outside of the vegan grocery destination Food Fight!, Parenthetical Girls, Pierced Arrows, Grouper, Marriage Records crew, Hush Records, Stumptown, Panther, record reviews by Beyonda, Grass Hut, Tu Fawning, Atole and much, much, more. Willamette Week even crops up, on page 83 with mention of the Shaky Hands winning 2007's Best New Band. The quartet is documented briefly, but long enough to be described as "jangly."

Part Two
Click here to download the issue
See the XLR8R site for more

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