For my penultimate column (I’m outta here next week) I wanted to throw a party, a little mutual masturbation session starring various Portland punk-affiliated people I’ve crossed paths with since starting Upper Extremities last summer.
So I wrote to some of my favorite folks in town and asked them to send me a few words about their favorite punk (or punk-ish) band in PDX. I do believe my fellow noise freaks chose wisely. Trust them. They know what they’re talking about.
And it should go without saying that I vouch for the various bands (and labels and venues) represented by my tastemaking recruits. I encourage you to investigate the bands (and labels and venues) trapped in parentheses below. Trust me. I know what I’m talking about. Sort of. Sometimes.
Mo Troper (Your Rival): Zoogirl
Zoogirl plays approximately five shows a year and have one three-song demo to their name (which is only available on MySpace, but I promise it's worth the commute). Creative helmsman Edward Beaudin is one of my favorite songwriters/riff-meisters in Portland. They've been teasing with an LP for years and I can't take it anymore.
Stan Wright (Arctic Flowers/Buzz or Howl Studios): Bellicose Minds
I saw Bellicose Minds' first show in the basement of a house not long after moving to Portland four years ago. I was instantly blown away by the great melodies, danceable beats, and sung vocals that still retain a raw edge. They are a PUNK band with a unique style that harks back to a time before divisions and labels of punk, goth, and post-punk. Look for their upcoming LP and go see them live!LISTEN
Stevie Pohlman (Youthbitch): Therapists
One time I saw [Therapists] at Slabtown and Adam, the singer, had his dinger out. Matter of fact, he was plodding around in an autistic tantrum completely naked from the waist down. Then a gnarly old lady in the front got on her knees and there was a game of chicken between her mouth and his dick that lasted the rest of the song. Nobody won, least of all the crowd. Last year they put out their debut LP, Hatesweats
, on Jonny Cat Records, and it was my favorite record of 2011. Their new songs are even better and you will all shit your pants when they record them this year—secretly brilliant pop songs filtered through a hardcore frontman who can't help being the platonic form of circus geek that every punk singer tries to be.
Tom Elston (Mass Exit): Adelit@s
Portland's own Adelit@s is a husband and wife and comrades playing heartfelt, political DIY punk rock with awesome dual vocals yelled in both Spanish and English. The songs fuse hardcore, D-beat, and prettier flamenco-esque songs that induce equal amounts of furious fist pumping and dancing your ass off. New LP entitled Llama Viva de la Rabia
out now on Aborted Society Records. Rage in solidarity!
Harrison Rapp (Divers): Social Graces
Definitely one of the best punk bands in town. Erin’s drum beats are so cool. The songs rock, but then at times they can be almost kind of haunting. What are they singing about? I don't know! They don’t play a ton of shows, but they just recorded. Can’t wait to hear whatever they decide to release.
David Rose (Freedom Club/The Know): Sick Rats
I was struggling to pinpoint a definitive "favorite" band for your column (in addition to the fact that I'm hoping someone else will mention obvious heavyweights Bi-Marks and The Estranged). So I thought I'd 'highlight' the best up-and-comer, namely Sick Rats. I'm really excited about SICK RATS because they truly stand out from the pack, offering a fresh take on post-punk by filtering it through a sieve of Midwestern punk and KBD-style scuzz. They possess an ability to retain energy and urgency despite a somewhat plodding tempo (comparatively to what we often expect on the punk/hc 'circuit'), which can be attributed to jagged/shrill guitar interplay with a layer of swaggering low-end. And did I mention commanding vocals from a banshee of a frontwoman and plenty of feedback? Sick Rats are sick shit!
Lizzie Flick (Pataha Hiss): Bi-Marks and Piss Test
Piss Test: High energy party punk! Their set includes a slew of instant classics like "Cabbin' It to the Methadone Clinic". Great lineup with members of Red Dons and (formerly) Therapists (two great Portland bands in their own right). Invite this trio to your next shindig/corporate event/bris for a night of sheer rock and roll bliss.
Bi-Marks: Seen these guys many times and I always end up doused in a full pint of beer and covered in bruises. And I'm usually standing near the back. Fucking maniacs in all the right ways.LISTEN
Nate Allen (Destroy Nate Allen): Bill Skins Fifth Will Punch You Right in the Face
With blaring keyboards, heartfelt energy, and technical musicianship mixed, Bill Skins Fifth Will Punch You Right In The Face is like seeing Andrew WK meets Operation Ivy in a basement. Without warning, they kindly steal your heart and leave you wanting more! Oh yeah!
Nick Makanna (Industrial Park): Hausu
Hausu is my favorite band in Portland. Their songs balance lofty and intricately woven dual guitars with a driving rhythm section, yielding a sound all their own. But more than anything, Hausu's songs are emotionally laden and strike viscerally, cutting deep and stirring up emotions in a way few other bands in this town can.
Ken Cheppaikode (Dirtnap Records/Green Noise): Mean Jeans
Mean Jeans are my favorite band in Portland, but there are a lot of others. This is a good time for local music. Guantanamo Baywatch, The Estranged, Autistic Youth, Freedom Club, Bi-Marks, Therapists, The Bugs, Chemicals, Youthbitch, Thee Headliners, Suicide Notes, Ghostwriter, Di Di Mau, Piss Test, Tensions, Divers and whole bunch more that I'm forgetting because I'm moderately hung over right now.