Dig the sound of the Grateful Dead but can’t get past the “song” part? Grayfolded is for you. Assembled by John Oswald from dozens of recordings of “Dark Star”—which opened up starlit chasms in their live sets—Grayfolded distills the sound of the world’s most popular ambient band into an echoing, spaced-out abstraction. Admittedly, suffering through OK cowboy songs to get to the really cool shit is part of the Dead show-recording experience. But Grayfolded is as good a highlight reel as exists.
Bonnie “Prince” Billy releases an album of cryptic, hushed, personable and frequently way too horny folk rock roughly once a year, and it’s so consistently good he’s easy to take for granted. Billy’s new Superwolves with Matt Sweeney is something special though: a sequel to the great original Superwolf and one of his warmest and best albums to date. Superwolves is ringed with gorgeous tangles of guitar, absolutely great for walking around Portland with your thoughts.
Pop-punk frontman turned beatmaker makes baroque song cycle? The new one from Quickly, Quickly is a doozy. The 21-year-old Portlander sings about his state of mind, all while avoiding easy relatable warbles and strictly abstaining from puppy dog eyes. As insular as it is freewheeling, Long and Short of It sounds like Spider-Man swinging all over town, thought bubbles perpetually above his head.
Thanks to Bill Orcutt, you can have your own Mechanical Joey. One of the oddest Bandcamp Friday releases ever, the two-track album consists of a loop of Joey Ramone counting a song off (“one, two, three, four, five, six!”) layered and phased like a Steve Reich piece. If you’re the kind of noisenik who lets Metal Machine Music loop at the end, you’ll love this, but I imagine most people will just be happy that it exists and move on.