[NU-PORTLAND BLUES] Sam Coomes is not one to play it straight. A key fixture of the local scene since his time in Heatmiser in the early '90s, Coomes has helped create some of the finest music ever to come out of the Pacific Northwest, both with Quasi—his rocksichord-pop duo with drummer Janet Weiss—and through session and production work for the likes of Built to Spill, Sleater-Kinney and Bugskull. He's a wicked guitar player and underrated songwriter, but on his debut recording under his own name, he veers sharply to the left, constructing an intentionally spooky, uncommercial album almost entirely via murky organs, a mid-'60s rhythm box and his unmistakable vocals. Despite the minimal approach, Bugger Me's best moments rival Coomes' classic oeuvre. Two-headed monster "Cruisin' Thru/Just Like the Rest," which begins as a topical carnival-organ slow-dance number, with Coomes singing the Nu-Portland blues ("I don't know where everyone went/Ain't no good when they jack up your rent"), shifts to something more sinister halfway through its seven-minute runtime but rides the same steady drum-machine beat to the bitter end. Title track "Bugger-me" is a tumbling, noisy Suicide homage. There's no real pure pop moments like the highlights from Quasi's Featuring "Birds"—still the most underrated record of pre-Portlandia indie rock—but there is plenty of weird noise for fans to boogie along to at the next end-of-the-world party.
SEE IT: Sam Coomes plays Bunk Bar, 1028 SE Water Ave., with Clark and the Himselfs and Marisa Anderson, on Saturday, Aug. 20. 9:30 pm. $10. 21+.