In 2016, I'll be excited to hear what comes out of Amani, a soulful R&B/hip-hop orgasm featuring Dan Talmadge, Noah Bernstein and Yafe Aros. Hopefully, this improvisational, ever-changing live-performance project will find its way into the studio to bless us all with recordings in 2016.
—Brandon Nikola, former Habesha booker and drummer in Ice Queens
Blossom has spent the last two years as Portland's R&B goddess, racking up not only a few eclectic EPs but also features on dozens of tracks with Portland's best hip-hop artists, from Tope to Myke Bogan. She's at ease onstage and instantly lovable. I'm looking forward to her new releases with EYRST.
—Grant Stolle, aka Verbz, co-host of the Crate Diggers podcast
He's been releasing with a local label called STYLSS but recently did a single with Wedidit, the label run by Shlohmo and RL Grime. I've heard there might be a full release on the way. He's got a tad of Internet cred but for Portland as a whole still pretty unknown. I only first heard his name within the last year.
—Keith LeWinter, Abstract Earth Project
Know that at any given time there are five to 10 bands that I will call my favorite in the world. That said, Fog Father is my favorite band in the world. Bryson Hansen's voice is a uniquely arresting instrument, and his songwriting is rooted in the pop sensibilities of Roy Orbison and Phil Spector, but colored with the outsider ambitions of Gary Wilson and the almost maniacal intentionality of the best Prince recordings.
—Ben Hubbird, host of Forever Now on XRAY.fm and co-founder of Party Damage Records
A dark chamber-pop quartet featuring four accomplished female musicians. The group explores the liminality between gothic classical and adult contemporary, and there is no other band in town quite like them.
—Nathan Carson, WW contributor
Laura Palmer's Death Parade
Laura Palmer's Death Parade is led by singer-songwriter Laura Hopkins. Her musical inspirations span from Patsy Cline to Black Sabbath, and the songs have a dark edge to them, with brutally honest lyrics, yet Laura's live performance holds a kind of mesmerizing beauty.
—Todd Walberg, Portland music photographer
There's something really fresh yet nostalgic about them. It feels like being teleported to an eccentric tiny dive bar in early-'90s Olympia and making new friends by joining the few who braved the weather to make the show.
—Chris Bigalke, Showdeer
Neill Von Tally
With bigger names joining him on projects for 2016, the incredible hip-hop and R&B production of Von Tally that has hints of psych rock, jazz and spaced-out funk will finally reach a larger audience in Portland, which is exactly what he deserves.
—Leigh Feldman, promoter
Theory Hazit's name may be familiar to you, but he's also stayed fairly underground during his time as part of the Portland scene. That's about to change, though. He released the album Fall of the Light Bearer early in 2015, a project that answers questions about changes in his label and personal life with cutting lyricism over dope production. Later in 2015, he produced tracks for veteran emcees Kokane and Redman.
Tre Redeau's Kool-Aid Stand put him on the map as one of the city's most on-point new rappers. With stellar production, a tight and playful flow and an arsenal of accompanying music videos, Tre and the rest of his Soar Losers crew should be on everyone's radar in 2016.
—Travis Leipzig, writer and musician
When it comes to who could succeed on a national level, I think TYuS is definitely at the forefront of his class in Portland. It's good to see more current R&B finally have some representation within the city.
—Kenny Fresh, Fresh Selects
If you caught the Club Tropicana parties hosted by the Bed of Roses collective these past few years, you were instantly transported to a Viso-sponsored, tiki-fused, late-night Balearic bacchanal starring some of Canada, Australia and Japan's most esteemed DJ-producers. With local live hardware acts highlighted as warmup to these marquee out-of-towners, this year saw the ascendance of local house producer WAV Fuzz, whose upbeat, grooving dance tracks and seamless sets consistently left crowds thirsty for more.
—Wyatt Schaffner, WW contributor