Through its first decade of existence, Tender Loving Empire has lived up to its name. Opening in 2007 as both a record label and a boutique craft store in Northwest Portland, the husband-and-wife team of Jared and Brianne Mees have indeed grown the brand into a mini-empire, with four store locations—including a new one located inside the airport—and a catalog featuring some of the biggest names in Portland indie-pop. This week, TLE celebrates its 10th anniversary with five days of concerts and events they're calling the All Together Festival. So we asked Jared Mees to tell us about five of the best deep cuts from the label's first 10 years. You can hear an expanded Spotify playlist of TLE deep cuts, curated by Mees, below.
Finn Riggins, "Battle"
The absurdist lyrics about funny-shaped chicken nuggets offset Finn Riggins' signature frenetic drumming, stabbing organs and doubled-up vox. It was recorded in a hot-as-hell warehouse in Torrance, Calif., and you can almost hear the sweat dripping off of it.
Typhoon, "The Sickness Unto Death"
One of the most emotionally touching songs TLE has ever released. Kyle Morton's honesty is heartbreaking and inspiring at the same time on this minimal acoustic gem.
Loch Lomond, "Blood Bank"
This was one of the first songs by Loch Lomond I connected with. The strange, visceral lyrics, combined with Ritchie Young's otherworldly falsetto, all set to textbook chamber-pop instrumentation is enough to make you feel uncomfortable then comforted multiple times in the span of one song.
Y La Bamba, "Viuda Encabronada"
One of the lesser-known, all-Spanish songs from Y La Bamba's 2012 epic Court the Storm, this tune just overflows with energy that isn't easily defined by a specific Latin musical tradition. Luz Elena Mendoza's vocal really shines on the down tempo middle section.
Magic Sword, "The Way Home"
This song is the soundtrack to my dreams—specifically, a montage where I am flying and dipping and soaring in tandem with the swirling synths and gated-reverb drum fills. It's so epic that I never want to wake up.
SEE IT: Tender Loving Empire celebrates their 10th anniversary Wednesday-Sunday, Nov. 1-5, at multiple venues. Go here for the complete schedule.