I had grand hopes of writing a bit about Portland-based chamber-folk-pop band Loch Lomond‘s show at Silver Moon on July 20 to accompany the three videos below.
But I put it off for a day, and then days turned into weeks, and weeks turned into … well, it’s basically been forever since the show. So here are a few quick thoughts, followed by the moving pictures:
–Loch Lomond played a short but sweet show, cramming a bunch of their best tunes into a set that clocked in under an hour. We got “Blue Lead Fences” and “Elephants & Little Girls” and “Ghost of an Earthworm” and “Night Bats.” At least I think they played “Night Bats.” It’s been a while, you know, and I have forgotten things.
–They also rocked harder than I expected, stirring up a relatively stormy clatter in between the gently swooping highs and higher highs of the band’s catalog.
–It was a nice atmosphere, with some obvious friends and family in attendance to watch frontman and Bend native Ritchie Young perform. He gave a shout-out to his mom. Cute.
–Young’s backing band has changed considerably in recent months. Gone, for example, is Dave Depper, another Bendite who has moved on to the Fruit Bats. (More on that in the coming weeks, I hope.)
–Overall, this version of Loch Lomond sounded really tight and terrific, and more balanced than when I saw an almost too delicate performance at the Doug Fir in Portland a few years ago. By contrast, the Silver Moon set was punchy and hooky and never lacking for momentum.
Oh wait, there’s more: Silver Moon Brewing & Taproom has a big week planned, with guitarist Fareed Haque’s Math Games group tonight, locally rooted indie-folkers Loch Lomond on Wednesday and junkyard blues specialists Hillstomp on Thursday. Madhappy Lounge has a busy schedule, too, with underground rapper Open Mike Eagle on Monday, political punkers Prayers for Atheists on Wednesday, and electro-hip-pop group Vokab Kompany on Thursday. Then there’s the wonderful Nicki Bluhm at Alive After 5, The Greencards play the free Sunday show at the Schwab, Town Mountain brings three nights of bluegrass to McMenamins, and a Last Band Standing update.
After all of my hype (see here and here) about Monday night’s PDXchange show featuring Viva Voce, Damien Jurado and Loch Lomond, I ended up missing the whole thing because of a nasty cold. Total bummer.
So, I hit up a couple of guys who I knew were there to see if Frequency could at least provide a sort of visual overview of the night. Below, you’ll find several still photos by Byron Roe of Byron Roe Photography (website here: www.studio-br.com), who shoots all PDXchange shows, plus a few videos by John Michaelson of Bend, who I “know” through Twitter (follow him: @Angry_Antlers).
For years, Frequency has been following the careers of Portland-based bands Loch Lomond and Water & Bodies, thanks mostly to their Bend connections. Loch Lomond is fronted by Bend native Ritchie Young, and fellow Bendite Dave Depper plays alongside him. Similarly, Water & Bodies’ Beau Kuther comes from our humble burg. (His brother Kelsey recently left the band.) You can read our past coverage of both bands by clicking their names: Loch Lomond | Water & Bodies.
Today, both add a new album to their discography. Let’s take them in alphabetical order:
“Little Me Will Start A Storm” (Tender Loving Empire)
Loch Lomond’s “Little Me Will Start A Storm” begins with two of Ritchie Young’s finest songs yet: the plucky “Blue Lead Fences” and the first single “Elephants & Little Girls,” with its gentle melody and choral swells. (Download “Elephants” here.) The rest of the album features all of Loch Lomond’s trademark traits, most notably Young’s dramatic, porcelain voice, which floats above the band’s lissome blend of folk, pop and chamber music as if powered by pure helium. Loch Lomond stretches and swirls a bit on the gorgeous “Earth Has Moved Again,” experiments with kitchen-sink sounds in the clanky “Water in Astoria,” and takes a simple tack for “Egg Song” until about halfway through, when the tune opens up into a sweeping choral number fit for a concert hall. As with the band’s previous work, Young’s songs on “Storm” are oddly interesting and unpredictable things, and the band itself is a perfectly capable bunch of pickers. But the star of Loch Lomond’s show is, as always, a collection of stirring voices that sets this band apart from its peers.
Loch Lomond will play in Bend on March 7 at the Tower Theatre, with Damien Jurado and Viva Voce. More info is here.
Water & Bodies
“Light Year” (EYOS Records)
In a world/town/scene that increasingly values a wallflower quality in its music (think: shoegaze eyes, ironic awkwardness, affected restraint), Water & Bodies buck the trend, bashing out flashy alt-rock songs that demand attention. “Light Year” recalls the indie/emo landscape of the 1990s, when bands like Saves the Day and The Get Up Kids spiced their punk rock with the kind of massive hooks you expect from Weezer songs. The album’s first two tracks — “Celebration Song” and “Free World” — reveal a band unafraid of aural drama, where insistent drums, roiling rock riffs and soaring vocals collide with striking effect. And the roller-coaster synth hook and inspirational message of the third song, “Moments in a Life,” are tailor-made for the climactic scene of a big-budget film. “Light Year” sags a bit in its middle passage (“Echoes” is a little too post-Silverchair MTV Buzz Bin and the title track seems half-baked), but beginning with the chugging, catchy “1980,” Water & Bodies finishes strong, establishing itself as a band that not only demands attention, but also deserves it.
Water & Bodies will play in Bend on March 5 at Silver Moon Brewing & Taproom with Tango Alpha Tango and Ex-Cowboys. More info is here.
Looks like I’ll get my wish: According to an e-mail I just received from the publicist for Portland-based and Bend-connected band Loch Lomond, the band is scheduled to play the Tower on March 7 as part of a tour with another fine Portland band, Viva Voce, plus the amazing Seattle singer-songwriter Damien Jurado.
In an e-mail this morning, Abel confirmed that this is indeed the first PDXchange show of 2011. Stoked. He also wanted you to know that people who join his mailing list at www.PDXchangeProgram.com will get more details and links to buy tickets when they go on sale.
“Little Me Will Start A Storm” will come out Feb. 22 on Portland’s wonderful Tender Loving Empire record label, and the first MP3 from the album, “Elephants & Little Girls,” nicely captures what makes this band great: elegant arrangements, effortless melodies, Ritchie Young’s remarkable voice. This is gorgeous chamber-pop that somehow sounds both gloriously grand and intimately cozy at the same time.
Hit-making machines that inspire nostalgia invade Les Schwab Amphitheater this weekend, with the Steve Miller Band playing Friday night and Barenaked Ladies on Saturday. I didn’t interview either, but instead used Daniel Levitin’s best-selling book “This Is Your Brain On Music” as a basis for a piece on how music affects our memories and emotions. An excerpt:
Both bands evoke immediate and distinct reactions from people, not necessarily because of the way those songs are built — though a catchy melody or well-played guitar lick never hurt anyone — but because, as Levitin describes, our experiences and emotions are closely tied to the music that we hear.
That close tie can be found deep in the brain, where the hippocampus — a structure crucial to memory retrieval — sits right next to the amygdala, which Levitin describes as “the seat of emotions” in mammals. The amygdala is activated by an experience or memory with strong emotional components, and Levitin’s studies show that music activates not only that part, but the nearby hippocampus as well.
Under a relatively new group of theories known as multiple-trace memory models, “each experience we have is preserved in high fidelity in our long-term memory system” and is waiting to be unlocked by groups of neurons configured in a particular way, according to Levitin. Think of those neurons as cues for your memories.
“A song playing comprises a very specific and vivid set of memory cues,” Levitin writes. And then: “The music that you have listened to at various times in your life is cross-coded with the events of those times. That is, the music is linked to events of the time, and those events are linked to the music.”
Bend’s own Ritchie Young and Dave Depper will bring their high-flying indie-folk band Loch Lomond to their home town Thursday to play the Tower Theatre as part of the PDXchange Program. I chatted with Young about the band, its beginnings, and its future:
Now, though, that new album is done, and Young hopes to have it out early next year. He calls it “not as folky” as Loch Lomond’s most recent full-length, “Paper The Walls,” but also “definitely not straightforward.”
It is, in Young’s words, “maybe a cross between what we were doing before and early Genesis.”
Whatever it is, the new album will come on the heels of the band’s recent tours supporting Portland mega-indie acts The Decemberists and Blitzen Trapper. Which means more people know about the band, and more people will be paying attention when it’s released.
Not that Young and his mates are going to let that kind of attention or pressure affect the way they do things.
“We don’t think of it that way. We tour a lot, and we try at every show wherever we’re at to play our best and represent the band in the best way possible,” he said. “If we wanted to explode overnight or had that expectation, it would’ve destroyed the band long ago. We really love touring, we really love each other and we just have a blast playing.
“When good things happen, we’re very excited,” Young continued, “but I think it’ll kill a band faster than anything to say, ‘This is our chance. This is the record that’s going to break.’ We’re not the biggest band in the world, but when we go out, people show up and people like the band.”
Elsewhere in this week’s music section: “Southern raconteur” Paul Thorn plays the Summer Sunday show, guitar wizard Ottmar Liebert returns to the Tower, Afro Classics fill the Domino Room with quality hip-hop, Prayers for Atheists mix rap, punk and politics and The Substitutes founder Don Hoxie holds a listening party for his new CD, plus Paula Cole, Halestorm, Blvd Park, and a big weekend at Angeline’s Bakery. And if that doesn’t quench your thirst, check out all the options in The Bulletin’s complete music listing.
1) This commercial was made to promote the city of Portland’s “Listen Local” program, which ensures local artists are played as hold music across the city’s telephone system.
2) This commercial is awesome.
3) Loch Lomond — which features members who grew up in Bend, including frontman Ritchie Young (that’s him on the right with the guitar) — is playing the Tower Theatre on July 22 as part of the PDXchange Program. Also on the bill: Portland Cello Project.
4) How do we get the city of Bend to do this? There’s lots of great music being made here in town. Why not promote it via official municipal hold music?
As you probably know by now, we here at Frequency keep an eye on what’s going on over in the camp of Portland-based chamber-folk group Loch Lomond, partly because they’re mighty good, but also because the band’s principal, Ritchie Young, is from Bend, and so is multi-instrumentalist Dave Depper.
So when Loch Lomond jumps, we listen. Or something like that.
Anyway, on Nov. 10, the band released its new EP, “Night Bats,” on Portland’s wonderful Hush Records label. It contains four new songs plus a cover of the Bee Gees. Of course.
You can pick up the EP by clicking here. Or if you’re one of those kinds of people who sample a little spoonful of each type of ice cream before you finally settle on a flavor, thus delaying ice-cream delivery to the rest of us and driving us to the brink of insanity, well, fine. As much as your dithering bugs me, I’ll still pass along this link, where you can download the song “Wax and Wire” with no strings attached.
Loch Lomond has a couple shows scheduled right now for Portland and Seattle, so if you’re heading that way, try to catch ’em. If you’re not, you can watch them perform live for OPB or listen to a session they recorded for Daytrotter. And if anyone reading out there has a say in such matters, I’m sure I speak for many Bendites when I say we’d love to see a homecoming show booked for Ritchie, Dave and the rest of the band!
By chance, I guess, I’ve got a handful of links here that’ll let you hear what some former Bend residents are up to these days. Think of it kind of like a high school reunion, except you (likely) didn’t go to high school with these folks, and Mike McShanahan isn’t dunking your head in the toilet and giving you a swirlie just like the old days. That’s what everyone’s old days were like … right?
-Perhaps the most famous recent musician to have called Bend home, Hasidic rapper Matisyahu is back with his much-anticipated third album of reggae-flavored hip-hop. It’s called “Light” and you can listen to the whole thing, at least for now, on this nifty little widget:
A couple years ago, I wrote an article that will tell you all about the dude’s time in Bend, and you can find that right here.
–Near/Far alum Wildbleedingheart now goes by Daniel Michael Miller. He lives in Portland and still makes woozy, lo-fi pop-rock that fits in much more snugly in his new hometown than his old one. It’s also pretty darn good. He’s just put up several songs for stream/download, which you can find over here. And if you want to read more about him, click here to find my story from 2007.
-The Portland chamber-folk combo Loch Lomond is led by Bend native Ritchie Young; member Dave Depper is also from here. (There may be others, I’m not sure.) The band has a new EP coming out this fall, and the Portland Mercury has all the details, plus a teaser medley of the record’s songs.
–V.E.R.A. Clique comprises three guys who got their start in Bend, but now make hip-hop in Oakland, Calif. They were just recently in town at the Silver Moon for a benefit show, but for the most part, they’re down there in the Bay Area working hard to get their music heard. Good for them. Let’s see if we can help them out. Here’s the title track from their most recent record, “Fresh Out The Box.” Download it and check out these local fellas done good.