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Far Lands dives deep into minimalist pop

 A pretty strong departure from the heavily rocking tunes he's dished out for Sons of Anarchy and on his albums, Battleme's Matt Drenik has teamed up with Andy McFarlane and a couple other musicians to make minimalist but pretty pop music as Far Lands.

The supergroup of sorts also includes Ivan Howard of The Rosebuds and Howard Evans on bass and backup vocals, as well as Elliott Smith's old drummer Paul Pulvirenti. When these musical talents come together, the result is somewhat on a Beck-meets-Neil Young plane of congenial folk pop, especially on their newest album Oh, What an Honor/Oh, What a Drag.

There's an ardor that comes along with Far Lands tracks, particularly with the single "Hearts Like a Knife." McFarlane wrote the track while sitting at his kitchen table with his two daughters, who also happen to join in singing along with the song in the studio. The thought behind the song is cutely warm.

“I didn't know it then but when Trump won I looked to it as something close to a protest song," says McFarlane. "My little way of telling my girls (and myself) that all will be okay if we stick together and focus on each other instead of the noise.”

Head over to Bunk Bar on 11.30 for the release show for Oh, What an Honor/Oh, What a Drag, where Far Lands will also be playing with Howard Ivans. Until then, give "Hearts Like a Knife" and the rest of the album a listen below.

The 5th Annual Freakout! Fest comes back tonight

Triple city-based indie label Freakout Records has been churning out some pretty fine electronic, psych and lively rock from three out of the four corners of the states. Operating out of Seattle, Los Angeles and New York, Freakout has taken to occupying various venues in Ballard for its festival since 2012, with artists of their own catalog, as well as other artists scattered around the Northwest and the country. Freakout! Festival returns again tonight, and its bill is as stacked as ever.

Co-presented by The Stranger, Audioasis on KEXP and supported by Killroom Records, Treefort Music Fest and Artist Home Record Club, Freakout! Fest will be hitting up its usual Ballard staples like Conor Byrne and Tractor Tavern, with Sarah Gerritsen and Roadkill Ghost Choir kicking things off with some early sets. Tonight's hip hop will be fulfilled by up and coming lyricist Taylar Elizza Beth, with some dark stoner psych coming from Blackwater Holy Light. Energetically folky blues comes from Battleme, who are out on tour supporting their new Cult Psychotica release, while Charms and FKL bring more of a dancey feel to a couple of the headlining spots.

Much of Saturday's bill recalls a warmer, more carefree season thanks to some surf-drenched sets from Baywitch, The Shivas and Guantanamo Baywatch, The White Tears and Pearl Dragon is Dead are collaborating on their performance at the Conor Byrne, Porter Ray and Jus Moni killing it in the rhythm and rhymes department, and Kelli Schaefer and Maiah Manser representing for solo noir pop.

There's so many more acts to see, thank goodness they're all playing on the same street. You can find more information about the artists, venues and tickets over at the Freakout Records site.

Battleme celebrates Cult Psychotica tonight

 *photo credit to Emilianos Ap.

Battleme have been keeping quite busy with their driving, energetic blues and psych tinged rock. As if to never really take a break, Battleme, led by main member Matt Drenik, have been churning out releases just about every hear since becoming Drenik's main project back in 2010. Becoming one of TV series Sons of Anarchy's go-to soundtrack artists (and even appearing before the camera) and now, Battleme's acclaim has brought them to yet another release. And it's happening tonight.

In just a few hours, Battleme will be taking to The Know's stage for their only Portland show this tour, supporting their newest album Cult Psychotica. From just the name alone the album promises the same ferocious zest. Playing with them will be Acid Tongue and The Furies, so it'll be a true night of getting loud. Tickets will be available at the door for $8, with music starting at 9pm. 

Battleme to play first of three album release shows at Bunk Bar

Battleme is one of Portland’s best-kept secrets and it’s honestly a shame. Matt Drenik writes insanely catchy garage rock pulled straight from the 1970’s in a way that is fresh and unique in a city inundated with garage groups. This weekend, Battleme is playing three release shows across the Northwest for their new album, Habitual Love Songs. Habitual Love Songs is an album that immediately calls attention to itself: it’s both fuzzy and refined, heavy and danceable. You could stream Habitual Love Songs online, but what you should do is watch them play live tomorrow, the 11th, at Bunk Bar, in what will likely be your favorite garage-rock show of 2016. 

-Sarah Eaton


Album Review: Future Runs Magnetic by Battleme

In 2009, singer-songwriter Matt Drenik made Portland his home. Along with, he brought a soulful voice that blends perfectly into blues based, alternative rock n roll. Matt did not waste anytime making music in this city and quickly formed Battleme, who are set to release their second album, Future Runs Magnetic on the newly formed label, El Camino Records.

The first, self-titled album is an electric form of its current identity with highly technical productions (produced by Thomas Turner of Ghostland Observatory) and featured a large variety of sounds throughout. The new album has been a work in the making as Matt brought in a team of musicians to form Battleme and evolve the sound into its cohesive alt-rock state.

Future Runs Magnetic starts off with the single, “Just Weight”, a the bass driven ballad with heavy drums that hammer bridges into the chorus and back to the verses. This dictates the pace for the rest of the album, it thrives on layering electric guitars and screeching vocals. The production is raw and clean to the point where you can imagine yourself standing in the studio, watching the recording. The song “We Get Out” starts out with a happy piano riff and then explodes into a rock anthem along the same lines as Andrew WK and you can feel the energy build the whole way through.

As with the first album, it’s Matt’s hollowing voice that ties each song and the entire album together. While the guitars give the sound a post-grunge edge, the vocals show tribute to a classic rock backbone that truly makes for an original sound. The Future Runs Magnetic album release party is taking place at Club 21 this Saturday so come out and see why Portland is lucky to have this band on its roster. - Colin Hudson


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