Cut of the Day: Pancake Breakfast, "PortlandtownUSA"
Portland has its fair share of anthems. I'm thinking of "Portland Water" by Michael Hurley, "Rose Parade" by Elliott Smith, "Rose City" by Viva Voce, the Decemberists' "On the Bus Mall," that little Loretta Lynn and Jack White number. See, plenty of them. Enough to make a navel-gazing compilation, even (hmmm, file that one away for later, Casey). But I can always use another one.
This civic anthem, from the hairy sing-a-long group Pancake Breakfast—one of the few local acts, I must say, that are Keeping Portland Weird without dumbing it down—should certainly make the comp. After a pretty, trail song vocal opener (think of Sons of the Pioneers), the band swings open the doors of a psychedelic honky-tonk and gets naked behind the bar. It's a well-written song that captures the spirit of these love-em-or-hate-em times in Portland as well as anything I've heard. But it also throws back, in a way, to free-folk groups like the Holy Modal Rounders. The song's free-wheeling yee-haws may add some fuel to the fire of PDX mystification, but you don't find frontman/songwriter Mike Midlo going on about MAX trains and Voodoo Donuts. He actually keeps his reasons for loving Portland surprisingly under wraps. We just know he likes the rain. I do, too.
Pancake Breakfast is holding a release show for the PortlandtownUSA single at Jimmy Mak's this Friday. 9 pm. $10. 21+.