Best New Band 2012

10 local acts that Portland's music insiders think you should hear.

This isn’t a list of our favorite bands. If it were, there’d be a big picture of Everclear on the cover. Not the real Everclear—just Art Alexakis and the scabs he hired for his upcoming summer tour with Sugar Ray and Marcy Playground.

Instead, Willamette Week's Best New Band issue aims its spotlight through a reasonably democratic process. Every year, we poll hundreds of local music-scene insiders—club owners, bookers, journalists, label heads, publicists and past winners—about their five favorite new local acts. The word "new" is subjective and the word "band" can mean any music-making entity. This year, the 204 voters provided us with a list of 420 different Portland bands. We totaled the votes, and this is the result.

We want to make all of this clear not just because the process behind the Best New Band issue is often misunderstood, but because it's truly startling that 45 of those 204 voters—from vastly different scenes and cliques within the Portland music community—agreed on Radiation City.

This nod of approval won't get anyone a record deal or land them on an arena tour, but it does serve as proof that their art is having an impact. That said, we don't see this issue as activism. Sometimes it is a predictor of great careers to come. But, more than that, it's a snapshot of the most exciting new acts in Portland's music scene right now.

If there's one thing we hope this issue does—especially this year's list, which is arguably the most diverse group of bands we've ever featured—it's getting you out to a local show. Because, as excited as we are about these 10 acts, the poll is evidence there are at least 410 more (OK, 409 if you take Blazers head coach Kaleb Canales off the list) bands playing around this city. Our music scene is thriving, vibrant and worth discovering for yourself.

We hope you're game. Especially since the Summerland Tour is skipping Portland for Duluth and Tulsa.


1. Radiation City

  1. 165 Points
  2. Formed: 2010
  3. Sounds like: Jetsons-era doo-wop

Musicians always say their band is "like a family." But Radiation City—a Portland outfit that features two couples and a particularly boyish-looking fifth member on bass—actually acts like one. And in the second hour of a three-hour marathon interview at Northeast Portland's houselike Beech Street Parlor, the family secrets start to slip. There's very little sex on tour, but plenty of booze. Most of the band members took ecstasy together after their recent release show at Rontoms. There's a new T-shirt in the works—which, for whatever reason, seems more hush-hush than any of the band's internal dramas.

And then there are the fights.

Last year, Radiation City co-founders Lizzy Ellison and Cameron Spies nearly broke up on tour. "We had this argument where [Lizzy] was like, 'We're done!,' and I wanted to punch the window out," says Spies, who is missing a bottom tooth from recent dental surgery. "We had to stop at a gas station to defuse the situation."

"I will say whatever the hell I want to say. I don't have a filter," Ellison admits. Spies, on the other hand, "doesn't have a backbone." He also farts a lot.

At this juncture, the whole band embraces self-evaluation. Drummer Randy Bemrose is "the most stoic member of this band, and probably of most people that exist," Spies says, but he's prone to bouts of extreme intensity. Ever-smiling bassist Matt Rafferty keeps his secrets to himself; he annoys Ellison greatly on tour, "but that's because he's like my brother," she insists. Multi-instrumentalist and singer Patty King is—well, she's perfect. She sits back watching the madness unfold in front of her.

"I think that, and this is on the record, as much of a bitch as Lizzy can be, it's actually really good for this band's honesty and critical nature," says a grinning Spies. "She will say the shit that nobody wants to say, but is actually really important." He reflects for a moment, plucking a loose hair from Ellison's shoulder. "And I'm not saying she's always right when she's a bitch."

Ellison smiles tightly and shrugs in agreement: "He does say I'm a bitch all the time."

This is Radiation City. To take the members' playful infighting for weakness would be a mistake: When it comes to its music, the band has a work ethic that's truly impressive. Songs are written and rewritten, recorded and re-recorded, scrutinized by committee and thrown out if they are not "Radiation City enough." The group has an internal power structure ("I think of Cam as executive producer and me and Lizzy as co-producers," Bemrose says) that is well-defined. In concert, the band members are obsessive about live sound to a degree that can infuriate sound guys. The group is so fiercely defensive of its sound that the members aren't sure if they'll ever work with an outside producer.

Radiation City's handcrafted sound is harder to describe than its internal dynamics. At the core of the band's first two releases—last year's full-length, The Hands That Take You, and the Cool Nightmare EP released in March—is a collision of old and new. Drum machines mingle with bossa nova rhythms, and Phil Spector-style echo-chamber vocals fall over Pulp-esque guitar grooves. Always, especially in the voices of Rad City's two female singers, there's a healthy dose of soul.

"We all really like music you can sink your teeth into," King says. That would explain recent live covers—the band knows a lot of them—of Ike and Tina Turner's "I Idolize You" or the Beatles' "Happiness Is a Warm Gun.” 

One of the most requested songs in Radiation City's catalog is its gut-wrenching take on "At Last," made famous by Etta James. It's a song that's hard to imagine another Portland band pulling off, and the Rad City version—which, wisely, the band plays only as an occasional treat—has been known to move fans to tears. 

But even in Radiation City's staggeringly epic originals, there's a soulful streak that most bands of its generation only dish out in small, ironic helpings.

The genesis of that soul influence dates to the early days of the band, when Spies and Ellison first met and fell in love under unideal circumstances. "I wrote some Aretha-inspired songs and said, 'Wouldn't it be cool if we started a soul group?' to Cam. But to make that come across appropriately is so delicate," Ellison says. "We're not—black. We're not churchy gospel singers. But that music touches something in you, and that's our main goal."

"We all know we can do it," Rafferty says of finding the band's soul within its complex, layered sound. "Because there are these moments where it's happening—where you're reaching this magical vortex. But we're improvising. There's no formula that we resort to, like, 'This is the next winning step.' Any minute it could blow up in our faces."

Of course, Radiation City doesn't call itself a soul band—its outdated MySpace page uses the genre "tape music," an allusion to Spies and Ellison's cassette-only label, Apes Tapes. If anything, though, the band tries to create a feeling. "And if it doesn't hit that spot, we all freak out," Rafferty says.

That feeling is surprisingly universal. "My dad is in the front row of our shows giving me high-fives," Spies says. "That never happened with my old band."

It's become increasingly clear that Radiation City has struck a chord with Portland. Recent shows have sold out, and the band is increasingly in demand for national tours and after placing 12th on last year's Best New Band poll. This year Rad City received more votes (by far) than any band in the poll's history. That's something that makes the group slightly nervous.

"We've heard from a couple people that this scenario can produce stress," Ellison says.

"Yeah, just this kind of expectation that bands maybe aren't ready for," Spies adds.

But like all of Radiation City's members, who have played in bands that were purely labors of love, Spies is ready for music to be a career.

"I think we've wanted these expectations for a while," he says. "We feel really honored, but also really ready."

"It doesn't feel like an accident at all," King says. "It feels earned." CASEY JARMAN.

Willamette Week's Best New Band showcase, sponsored by Miller Genuine Draft and featuring Radiation City, Pure Bathing Culture and Onuinu, is Friday, May 11, at Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi Ave. 9 pm. Free. 21+.


2. Pure Bathing Culture

  1. 97.5 Points
  2. Formed: 2011
  3. Sounds like: A weird dream where Stereolab hangs out with Enya around a campfire on the banks of a river where yellow water runs over chunks of black coal.

New York isn't ready for the New Age. It's too busy, too expensive, too removed from the natural world. Or so it seems to Pure Bathing Culture. Back in Brooklyn, the duo of Daniel Hindman and Sarah Versprille ran on pizza and subway fare. Last year they moved to Portland and got into natal charts and crystals.

"We've been super-influenced by a lot of West Coast New Age spirituality, things that we weren't really looking into," Hindman says. "We've been super-influenced by astrology, and the tarot has become a muse."

"I'm sure a lot of it exists on the East Coast, in New York, but people on the West Coast...seem to have more space for that type of thought," Versprille says. "[In New York], there's a lot of people competing for resources and it's pretty intense."

Hindman and Versprille seem comfortably settled into a quieter life in the Southeast Portland house they share with Versprille's cousin and her elderly miniature poodle. The house's open upper floor is a studio and rehearsal space that "doesn't exist" in New York, with plush yellow couches, a big chunk of orange calcite ("It's very calming," Versprille says) and the spiritualist books that inform the EP the band is releasing at the end of this month.

Hindman, a lanky man with curly brown hair, is originally from Delaware. Versprille, who has sharp bangs, big glasses and occasionally slips a hard vowel into her speech, is from Rochester in upstate New York.

"Some of this music was written in Brooklyn, but I feel like it really developed here," Versprille says. "We decided we wanted to explore it, but we didn't have the space or the time because we had to work extra jobs."

There's lots of space on Pure Bathing Culture's self-titled debut EP, a record with obvious parallels to dream-poppy Baltimore duo Beach House. "Lucky One" has Versprille's ephemeral vocals floating through subtly hypnotic, bloopy drums. Layers of guitar and vocals give "Ivory Coast," a song the band says is about being obsessed with your muse, uncanny depth. "Silver Shore's Lake" has a touch of Simply Red-style '80s blue-eyed soul under layered electro haze. So far, Pure Bathing Culture has played only eight shows, the first in January at Doug Fir Lounge, and yet it has enough buzz to land on this list.

Part of that may be due to the popularity of another band it plays in, Andy Cabic's folk-pop project Vetiver. Touring with Vetiver, Pure Bathing Culture met lauded producer and musician Richard Swift, a recent Shins recruit operating out of Cottage Grove, who encouraged the band to come to Portland.

Hanging here, Hindman and Versprille have had time to read and think about new things—like the zodiac.

"I think of the signs of the zodiac almost as like collected folk wisdoms that have been created from centuries and centuries of humans observing other humans,” Hindman says. 

Having time to observe and ponder, he figures, is how this esoteric knowledge was developed in the first place. "People didn't have anything to do besides lay on their back and look at the stars," he says. "Before the Internet, and before this modern age we live in, people were much more attentive. They were seeing things that we don't look at now."

Versprille stops short of calling it practical: "It's not so much that I want to read my horoscope and predict the future, it's more of an interesting intellectual pursuit."

But there is a Pure Bathing Culture ethos, the band says, something that's developed since arriving in Portland that channels the spirit of this place.

"If we had any message in our music, it would probably be that you should take yourself seriously, take your relationships seriously—don't miss it. Don't miss this opportunity," Hindman says. "We're just interested in new forms of spirituality and ways of connecting with something beyond everyday life that gives meaning to why we're all here."

As pop music goes, this is an ambitious purpose. Pure Bathing Culture takes it on seriously, but cheerfully.

"Hey," Versprille asks, "do you want to know your Native American spirit animal?" MARTIN CIZMAR.

Willamette Week's Best New Band showcase, sponsored by Miller Genuine Draft and featuring Radiation City, Pure Bathing Culture and Onuinu, is Friday, May 11, at Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi Ave. 9 pm. Free. 21+.


3. Lost Lander

  1. 90 Points
  2. Formed: June 2011
  3. Sounds like: A lovelorn woodsman emerging from the forest and struggling to come to grips with this dang newfangled technology. 

A lot has changed in the year since Lost Lander played its first show. For one thing, the band is actually a band now. Initially a solo outlet for songwriter Matt Sheehy, the group came together to bring his lush arrangements to the stage. Through the ups and downs of touring—performing at a packed hometown gig one night, an empty room somewhere in Kansas the next—and the release of DRRT, the first album bearing the Lost Lander name, the project has evolved into a genuine four-person entity.

That's what Sheehy wanted all along.

"I wasn't looking to start a band whose players would re-create something that had already been done," he says, crammed into a candlelit table at Northeast Portland's Secret Society with drummer Patrick Hughes and keyboardist Sarah Fennell. "I was really hoping to find musicians who I enjoyed on their own and hoped they could bring that to the project."

Lost Lander is a project rooted in collaboration. In 2010, Sheehy and Ramona Falls frontman Brent Knopf began producing DRRT together, working in tiny recording spaces along the Olympic Peninsula in Washington. Guests ranging from troubadour-about-town Nick Jaina to members of psych-folk troupe Akron/Family also contributed improvised instrumental parts. In the process, Sheehy's simple songs blossomed into evocative, richly adorned creations, with acoustic guitars, strings and near-tribal drumming swooping around blips of synthesizer and digitized ephemera.

To assist him with interpreting the songs live, Sheehy recruited Hughes, Fennell and bassist Dave Lowensohn (whom Sheehy, until recently, played guitar alongside in Ramona Falls) last summer. In February, Lost Lander celebrated the release of DRRT at a crowded show at Doug Fir Lounge. Leaving for the tour the next day, the quartet bonded over the shared experiences of the road, like playing for 10 people in a small town outside Boise, Idaho, on Super Bowl Sunday—all of whom knew the words to every song.

“Seeing anybody, anywhere you show up, singing along to a song is amazing,” Fennell says. 

There are also fringe benefits. A woman in Wisconsin brought Sheehy a pair of water wings, a reference to the melancholic "Afraid of Summer," in which Sheehy confesses to not knowing how to swim. An admirer in Arizona baked the band Rice Krispies Treats emblazoned with the Lost Lander logo. It makes sense fans would want to give the band gifts. In a way, it's an exchange for the gift Lost Lander gave its listeners with DRRT: The CD packaging folds together to form a miniature planetarium. When I spoke to Sheehy in February, he said he hoped the gimmick would bring "a little bit of magic" into people's lives. "I've gotten messages from people saying they've shown the planetarium to their kids and had a moment with them, which makes me really happy," Sheehy says. "Part of me really likes the idea of kids getting interested in planetariums because of the Lost Lander CD."

Fennell laughs. "This band is really a vehicle to educate kids in science," she says. MATTHEW SINGER.


4. Onuinu

  1. 68.5 Points
  2. Formed: June 2011
  3. Sounds like: A slow cruise through a brightly colored Blade Runner-style landscape intercut with spaces of pastoral beauty. 

Dorian Duvall seems to relish his air of mystery. A tall, attractive gent with a penchant for understated black jeans and single-color T-shirts, the 25-year-old musician always seems to have a puckish grin. He often seems content to sit back and drink in whatever conversation he's around rather than engaging.

It's a laid-back style that befits the sultry, spacey electronic pop that Duvall recorded under the name Onuinu for Mirror Gazer, his album coming out this summer on Portland's Bladen County Records. Lyrically, Duvall is as coy as he is in person, hiding lines like "I never wanted to be alone/ I just want to stay and talk to you" behind reverb. But the low bubble of bass; funked-up guitars; wandering, Bernie Worrell-style synth melodies; and hip-hop-meets-IDM beats speak volumes on his behalf.

To break through Duvall's persona, I tried to get him out of his comfort zone, taking him to a listening party for the new album by local doom-metal juggernaut Witch Mountain. When I came to pick him up, it took him 10 minutes to hear me knocking. Through the door, it sounded like he was trying out new guitar pedals.

On our way to the party, Duvall told me about growing up. Born and raised in a Cleveland suburb, Duvall was surrounded by music geeks who "were always showing each other new things we'd found," he said. "I was listening to hip-hop, but they got me into prog rock and Frank Zappa." A skilled guitarist, Duvall moved to Portland after high school with the intention of starting a band that never got going.

"About that same time," he said as we arrived at the house of Witch Mountain drummer (and WW contributor) Nathan Carson, "a lot of the people I was hanging out with were getting into house music and making dance beats. It was really easy to pick up on that and start making my own."

Duvall has never been familiar with metal, but at the listening party, he gamely absorbed the waves of bluesy bombast pouring toward us at top volume. He nodded his head to the beat but looked like he was processing it more than enjoying it. On the way out, I apologized for tossing him into the deep end.

"No, no. It was good," he said. "I might borrow some ideas from that. It was a little weird being around a bunch of people I've never met before, but I think I'm going to have to get used to that kind of thing."

Duvall speaks volumes there. Over the past three years that he's been performing as Onuinu, he's seen his fan base grow exponentially. New touring opportunities are coming his way—he'll be the hand-picked opener for YACHT this summer. He's looking even further beyond, with one album's worth of new material already in the can, and his mind turning over ideas for another one. He hints at the influence of old favorites like Soft Machine, but only has one concrete goal in mind: "I want to write lyrics that have something to say. I think it's time for me to make a statement." ROBERT HAM.

SEE IT: Willamette Week's Best New Band showcase, sponsored by Miller Genuine Draft and featuring Radiation City, Pure Bathing Culture and Onuinu, is Friday, May 11, at Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi Ave. 9 pm. Free. 21+.


5. Youth

  1. 57 Points
  2. Formed: 2010
  3. Sounds like: That moment when wide-eyed romantic longing dissolves into world-weary resignation.

Well, this is awkward: For the first time in Best New Band history, one of our winners disbanded during the ballot-counting process. Bummer.

That Youth is the freshly sundered band in question makes the pill even harder to swallow, as this young quartet just barely stumbled its way into toddlerhood before calling it quits. And, according to Youth guitarist-vocalist Maggie Morris, "The split was less than amicable."

It's sad because much of Youth's charm derived from the sound of sweet voices bound together in lament and celebration. 

Mostly unswayed by contemporary currents, Youth picked up where Northwest favorites like 764-Hero and Red Stars Theory left off 10 years ago, with a melancholic yet hopeful take on swirling guitar interplay and homesick bedroom voices. Some of that throwback style will live on in the form of Cascades Genders, which three-fourths of the Youth crew—Morris, drummer Stephen Leisy and bassist Matthew Hall—have joined.

Cascades Genders won't exactly be Youth Part Two, though. "The only Youth songs we will continue to play will be ones that I wrote or sang on and 'Virginia City’, a song that Stephen wrote,” Morris says. 

Youth's other songwriter, Elec Morin, the lone member on the opposite side of the split, is more keen to leave the past behind. "It's tough to give up the songs that I wrote for Youth," he says, "but I just don't feel like it would make sense to continue playing them, and I feel like there is a lot of new material to write at times like this, when everything is changing."

To that end, Morin is working on an "as-of-yet-untitled solo project" a new band, Cascades, that will find him "recording all of the instrument and vocal parts, with friends helping out from song to song."

Music's not everything, though. "We hope that once we are all working on the creative projects that are right for us, we can rebuild our friendships," Morris says. Which, of course, would be great for the friends formerly known as Youth.

And then maybe a reunion? Please? CHRIS STAMM.


 6. Tope

  1. 46.5 Points
  2. Formed: Started playing shows in high school, formed his group TxE in 2009.
  3. Sounds like: Laid-back regional hip-hop that plays nice with Portland’s indie-rock scene.

A few weeks ago, Anthony "Tope" Anderson performed in front of students at Central Catholic High School. Some kids thought the freshly shaven, baby-faced MC was one of them. "I almost wanted to lie," he says. "When I don't shave, I look 19."

It has only been eight years since Anderson was one of those kids, playing Central Catholic talent shows while a student there. "Those were always really awkward," says the 26-year-old MC-producer. "But it was kind of a big thing. Everyone knew I rapped, even then."

Making it outside of Central Catholic has been trickier. "I kind of knew it would be one of those things where I'd have to put out like 10 albums before anyone knows who I am," Anderson says. These days, anyone paying attention to the Portland hip-hop scene—or, considering his contributions to the PDX Pop Now! festival and last year's record deal with respected local indie-rock imprint Amigo/Amiga, the Portland music scene in general—knows Tope's smooth flow and soulful production. They might also know his other groups, Living Proof and TxE. (The latter, with rapper Epp and rapper-producer G_Force, collected almost enough votes to place on the poll alongside Tope.)

Anderson began his career as the teenage hype man to now-retired Portland MC Manic D ("I didn't know what the hell I was doing," he admits now). He was refining his flow and learning the basics of production at age 19 when his mom died. For a while, Anderson quit music altogether. "I just didn't have anything to say," he says. "But, after getting through the initial pain of it, I guess it was motivation. My mom was always a big supporter."

Tope is committed to music these days—his latest solo album, Until the Next Time We Meet, garnered national praise and in April he paid his rent with music for the first time—but he says he's still finding himself as an artist. His next EP, he says, will be his most personal project to date. "I'm not Luck-One, I'm not Illmaculate, I'm not Cool Nutz," Anderson says. "I'm just trying to find my lane. I'll never be one of the top five rappers in Portland, but hopefully someday I'll have a top-10 album." CASEY JARMAN.


7. Blouse

  1. 37 Points
  2. Formed: 2010.
  3. Sounds like: A VHS cassette of Miami Vice episodes covered in a sticky glaze of spilled pink lemonade. 

People keep thinking Blouse was in the movie Drive. Instead, the band has been driving.

One year after playing its first show as an opener for Starfucker at Doug Fir Lounge, art-schoolmates Charlie Hilton and Patrick Adams are on their inaugural national tour. This winter, buoyed by a 7-inch on Seattle's Sub Pop label and a self-titled full-length on Captured Tracks, Blouse traveled Europe. 

Along with warhorse Glass Candy, Blouse is Portland's contribution to a global resurgence of sexy, breathy synth-laden dance pop—a tide of pining for the muted side of New Wave and its bruised Casios. The only drawback to this serendipity is everyone assuming they know Ryan Gosling.

Even the director of Blouse's Los Angeles studio-session videos made that mistake. "He was like, 'So you guys were part of that Drive soundtrack, right?'" Adams recalls. "He was just certain. I had to let him down."

The band has dialed knowingly into the center of the 1980s quantum leap—"I was in the future yesterday," Hilton breathes on "Time Travel," "and now I’m in the past”—but they aren’t sure how deep that wormhole goes. 

"For whatever reason," Hilton says, "people are kind of drawn to minimal electronic music with female vocals right now. Maybe it's just because we're in that world, [so] we think there's a lot of that going on. It's hard to tell how big a movement really is." She laughs. "There's so many movements going on at once."

So Blouse keeps moving—soundtracked by a road-trip iPod that only shuffles songs within alphabetical letter.

"We try to pick the right music for the landscape," Hilton says.

“We listened to a bunch of Eno driving through Montana,” Adams adds. 

Hilton and Adams don't need to pick a soundtrack for the night they drive back into Portland. They already recorded it. AARON MESH.


8. Sons of Huns

  1. 28 Points
  2. Formed: 2009, at a party that resembled the house in Fight Club.
  3. Sounds like: Dinosaurs in skinny jeans battling in front of a giant mirror.

So many Portland bands—even the heaviest metal acts—are too shy to play leads, let alone peel off long runs. Not Sons of Huns. This power trio channels volume and energy into infectious, even chipper, stoner-garage anthems. The vibe recalls the early days of the Who, but Huns are clearly more into Black Sabbath.

The band has come a long way in 2½ years. "That sounds really long when I say it!" says guitarist Peter Hughes. "The three of us started jamming and we wrote a bunch of songs really quick and we were like, 'Wow, this is great,' and we just stuck with it."

To metal scenesters, many of whom are pushing 40, Sons of Huns look like the fresh-faced kids who demolished their homecoming dance. But put the Huns in a basement party in NoPo, and they'll look positively creepy. It's just this sort of middle ground the band straddles between rock and metal, between youth and maturity, that gives it so much appeal and potential. Sons of Huns is delightfully unafraid to toss a frenetic piano lick on a tune like "Der Blaue Reiter," chug apocalyptic on "Scourge of God," or blow full throttle on "I'm Your Dad." All those songs are Huns live staples. But, Hughes says, "We feel like our new shit is even better."

It's too easy to call Sons of Huns "gateway metal," but the fact remains they are the loudest of this year's Best New Bands. And for those who think full stacks are scary and wonder what lurks beyond the confines of the dance floor, this is the perfect place to start. According to Hughes, there will be plenty of chances to see Huns live. "I remember how psyched we were to just open the East End block party last summer," he says. "That was such a big deal. This year we've played a lot better shows. 

"Shit, I think we have a lot to be happy about." NATHAN CARSON.


9. Reva DeVito
  1. 26.5 Points
  2. Formed: DeVito played her first show in spring of 2007. 
  3. Sounds like: Big-city soul sent out to the country for a dip in the river.

After moving to Portland from her native Washington state in 2007, Reva DeVito was quick to dip her toe into the Portland music scene. But it wasn't until 2010 that she found her calling, forming a live band and releasing The Catnip Collective, a trippy EP of organic soul dripped over funk and hip-hop-influenced beats. Shortly thereafter, DeVito dropped off the map.

"I took off for a little bit to do some traveling. I went to Mexico, spent some time in California," she says. "When I came back from that, I didn't have a place to live and needed to find a job—I had all these priorities I needed to get straight before I could start working on new music."

As luck would have it, DeVito's new job at North Portland bar Moloko Plus put her in the company of producer Roane Namuh, who holds a twice-monthly residency there. He had been looking for a female vocalist to work with, and when he handed DeVito a CD of his songs, she was taken aback. "I told him I could sing over every one of those songs," she says. And then she did.

DeVito and Numah's collaboration, the eight-song free download Cloudshine, lives at the intersection of moody hip-hop and club-ready dance music. It's a testament to DeVito's vocal versatility that the singer—sometimes compared to Erykah Badu or Lauryn Hill—sounds just as home here as she did on the more organic Catnip.

For her forthcoming debut full-length, DeVito is connecting with producers from Portland funk institution Tony Ozier to shit-hot Seattle beatmaker Budo. She says she thinks the disc will have a "future R&B" feel to it, but that her sound is still a work in progress. 

Asked about broader career goals, DeVito is succinct. "I'd like to make music that makes people feel good," she says. "And I'd really like to get paid." CASEY JARMAN.


10. Grandparents
  1. 26 Points
  2. Formed: 2008.
  3. Sounds like: A spaghetti western played through a broken amplifier in a distant concrete room; punk-rock night at the Sea Lion Caves; a tent revival for woodland elves.

Grandparents is as much a group of friends as it is a band. Marc Christiansen, Dylan White, Ben Johnson, Allison Faris and Will Fenton all met either at Central Catholic High School or in their first year at Portland State University. They lived together in a house in Southeast Portland that they shared with two members of White Fang. In that house was a "shitty, moldy basement," where the group started writing songs together. 

"We had sewage gas coming up through the sewage pipe," Johnson remembers. "We were getting high on jenkem without our consent. That's how the music started. In the basement, with sewage gases.” 

When their lease ran out, they loaded their belongings into a van and left on their only tour. “It was successful,” Johnson says. “[But] not financially.” 

At their live shows, Grandparents swap instruments and vocal duties. They play with intense concentration, like cultists or computer programmers—or maybe a bit of both. They are both loud and soft, tender and rough.

These days, with four EPs under their belts, Grandparents' greatest challenge is finding time to practice. All of the members work different shifts, so rehearsing requires some creativity. "If you come down to AudioCinema at midnight or 3 in the morning, you'll probably see us smoking cigarettes in the parking lot," Fenton says. "We're just ready for the summer.” BEN WATERHOUSE. 

Who's Got Next?

Best New Band Poll 2012, finalists numbers 11 through 23.

  1. The We Shared Milk (25 points)
  2. Natasha Kmeto (25 points)
  3. Sun Angle (23 points)
  4. 1939 Ensemble (23 points)
  5. Support Force (22 points)
  6. Litanic Mask (22 points)
  7. Like a Villain (22 points)
  8. Animal Eyes (21 points)
  9. Mean Jeans (21 points)
  10. The Memories (21 points)
  11. Swahili (21 points)
  12. Death Songs (20 points)
  13. Guantanamo Baywatch (20 points)

SEE IT: Willamette Week's Best New Band showcase, sponsored by Miller Genuine Draft and featuring Radiation City, Pure Bathing Culture and Onuinu, is Friday, May 11, at Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi Ave. 9 pm. Free. 21+. 

Also, Tope, performing with TxE, and Reva DeVito play Mississippi Studios on Wednesday, May 9; Grandparents play at the St. Johns Bizarre on Saturday, May 12. 

WWeek 2015

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