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Album Review: Pony Village, "Self-titled EP"

 

 

Pony Village’s self-titled debut EP shows just how much potential the quartet possesses. Completely self-released, and pressed onto 12” vinyl, the record captures the quaint, lo-fi, DIY vibe as well as the sparkle of larger things to come. “We give away free CD's with [the record] at shows,” explains vocalist Ryan Barber, “but we recorded [Pony Village] with the intention of putting out a record, and I feel that CD's are really only something that people put into their computer once and then forget about.”

Listening to Pony Village on vinyl brings me back to Northwest indie rock in the late nineties. The succinct drum taps and warbling slide guitar coupled with Barber’s pleasantly off key voice is reminiscent of Keep It Like a Secret-era Built to Spill, while echoed, unhurried soundscapes and Barber’s breathy, high-pitched vocal tone is nostalgic to Death Cab for Cutie’s Something About Airplanes.

Although the foursome has clear influences, its music is not a total pastiche. You can hear the genuineness in Barber’s voice as he sings, “Why did you bring me back again? I was at Pacific Pines, the sand on the beach at night, it looked almost white,” in “Depoe Bay,” a track paying homage to a quaint coastal town well known to us Oregonians, and encompassing the same dreariness that reminds us all of the Oregon coast.

Pony Village - Depoe Bay from Rodrigo Melgarejo on Vimeo.

The six-song EP ends on a strong note with “You Play, You Pay,” a beautifully eerie, sweeping piece played in minor chords saturated in reverb. The track begins with a droning guitar riff and drum beat that eases into Barber’s airy voice asking his listener to “Lay your ear to the ground, do you hear the sound? The one I can’t allow.” The chilling uneasiness of this track is fit for a record player on a gray Portland day.

If Pony Village’s LP, which is currently in the works, sounds anything like this debut, Barber will have no reason to worry about someone listening to it once than forgetting about it, whether it be on record or CD.

-Katrina Nattress

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PDX Pop Now! "Make It Pop" fundraiser TOMORROW night

Every year, the guys and gals of PDX Pop Now! work their asses off to host a rad summer weekend music festival showcasing local under the radar acts. Since the organization is non-profit, it raises money for the big event via smaller benefits.

One such fundraiser happens tomorrow evening at The Cleaners in the Ace Hotel. Make It Pop! will be an all ages evening filled with music, complimentary food from Firehouse Restaurant, St. Cupcake, Bakery Bar, Fifty Licks and drinks from Captured by Porches Brewing, Klickitat Canyon Winery, and C & G Wines.

While you are filling your belly with delectable eats and drinks, enjoy the chilling, disjointed harmonies of Musee Mecanique, the campfire melodies of Ah Holly Fam’ly, the mellow folk of Alialujah Choir, and the always wonderful storytelling of The DecemberistsColin Meloy.

Oh yeah, and did I mention there will also be a silent auction with contributors including Kill Rock Stars, Tender Loving Empire, Blitzen Trapper, and Stumptown Coffee?

If you’re not going to be watching the Blazers kick some Suns ass, this is the place to be Thursday night. Make It Pop! begins at 6:30 pm. Tickets cost $35.

-Katrina Nattress

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Stephanie Schneiderman at Mississippi Studios this Saturday

 

Stephanie Schneiderman is a Northwest staple, so I won’t go on and on about her past, but I do have to give some major kudos where it is deserved. Not only is she this amazing mix of Sade, Amy Lee and Stevie Knicks, but she also acts, raises large amounts of money for humanitarian issues, and moonlights in her successful side band Dirty Martini.

Schneiderman has released six solo albums and two collaborative albums, and has impressed the likes of well known electronic musician/producer/DJ Keith Schreiner and James Beaton of Storm and the Balls, both of whom collaborated with her on her last album Dangerous Fruit.

What I appreciate the most about her music, though, is her eclectic mix - one minute she sounds a little country, the next she throws down some Latin beats, and then she goes a little gangsta on us and sings with a T-Pain style voice box.

If you can only see one band this week, this month, or this year, I recommend it be her. Stephanie Schneiderman, Garrison Starr and Pat Kearns from Blue Skies For Black Hearts will be at Mississippi Studios this Saturday, May 1st, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10.

- Deanna Uutela

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Dirty Mittens Demo Release Show this Friday

 

Dirty Mittens will be giving away a handmade, limited run (100), three-song demo from the album they're working on at Mississippi Studios on Friday.

"We're super excited about this album," said guitarist Ben Moral. "It's been in the works since last summer, and we're still working on mixing it. Jim Brunberg of Mississippi Studios is generously contributing his time to the effort."

The band is also stoked (and you should be too) on these awesome V.I.P. cards they will be handing out at the show. The idea is basically like when you go to a coffee shop and get a bunch of macchiatos and then they give you one for free. Except instead of macchiatos, it's shows. A buddy of theirs who runs the site ibrontosaurus.com designed and illustrated these really amazing punch cards, and if you come to five shows and get it punched, they'll give you something free.

"We didn't really want to limit this to one particular thing, you know, so we're just saying 'we'll hook you up' - which could mean a free show, shirt, CD, or even something crazy like coming to practice and swilling some brews with us, or having us take you out to dinner, or whatever," explained Moral. "We just want to say thanks to those folks who come out to our shows all the time."

This idea came about because of a confluence of events the band is calling Mittenstastrophe 2k10. This weekend, there will be three (3) chances to get a punch: Mississippi Studios Friday night, Aladdin Theater on Saturday during the day, then Saturday evening at the Willamette Week's Eat Mobile event. Is there a better way to spend this almost summer weekend?

Check out some of the demo tracks here.

 - Shuggypop

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Spesus Christ, live in church

 

A new electronica act with a cleverly celestial nome de guerre and a handful of digital tracks, Spesus Christ comes home... well, the Oakland/Portland-based trio returns to Portland from their other Bay Area locale for a "homecoming" show this Saturday at "what used to be the Funky Church on Tamarack (just north of Division)," according to producer/mixer Cameron Spies.

Filling out the bill are the seriously jamming synth-pop duo Adventures! With Might, electro-ambient Soap Collectors (which also features Spesus Christ's Lizzy Ellison), stomach-friendly folk from Leviticus Appleton, and mournful beatmasters Your Canvas.

Behind the moans and machines, Spesus Christ pulsates an unclassifiable twinkling and tapping of beats with stream of consciousness raps. Right Cameron?

"Our sound is a mixture of analog and electronic instrumentation. It includes elements of down-tempo hip-hop, rock music, indie, and smatterings of about everything else we like listening to. It’s sort of problematic to try to describe our music using genre titles like we’ve just done, so I suggest that you just listen to our stuff."

Take the man's advice and download the simplistically titled yet multitudinously layered EP 1. Evolving so rapidly, their concert poster can't even keep up with them - the $2 cover has been nixed, the show is donation-based.

And gushing with new material, Cameron says, "We are planning to release an EP every month for the next six."

But until the first is mixed (possibly by next week!), Soap Collectors also celebrate a tape release but remind you that "Soap Collectors are people who gather together varieties of soap and compulsively log and organize them into neat piles."

Save me Spesus.

- Chris Young

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