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.
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.
Page 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."
Click here to download the issue
See the XLR8R site for more