Post image for Michael Cera “True That” (2014 Self)

Ok, so I know what you’re thinking. Don’t worry, I thought the same thing. If I’ve learned anything from America’s obsession with celebrity culture its that the jump from hollywood actor to musician is 99% of the time a metric fuck-ton of failure. Musician to actor, a little easier (Janet Jackson in Nutty Professor II: The Klumps aside). Eddie Murphy, Bruce Willis, Keanue Reeves, all fallen victim to their own tone-deaf hubris. I clicked on the album as a joke, wanting to gather some material to chime in at the next Exiled folding-party with; a good rib-tickler about that ass-hat Michael Cera and his 18-track piece of garbage. I have to say, I was thoroughly surprised.

Michael’s 18-track album True That is at its core very intimate, the kind of intimate thats curled up against your chest in bed while you strum your guitar and hum uncertain tunes. Its lofi, its home recorded, and has that fuzzy, wailing DIY quality that makes you immediately pick up on the countless hours of Modest Mouse that Michael listened to as a young lad.

The imperfection of these recordings gives them their personality; like each 2-3 minute track is a little window into a day in the life of the awkward, baby-faced star of such atrocities as Year One and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (yeah, I didn’t like it, suck it). The whole album is a brand of unassuming, plucky, melodic folk you wouldn’t expect out of someone with the kind of money and resources the Mr. Cera has, which almost makes the creative license taken in their composition a bit more thought out and purposeful.  Through and through its a warm hug of familiar indie sing-a-longs with a dash of weird for posterity. Recommended to : fans of awkward-kid bedroom songs about girls in high school you never got the guts to talk to. I give it 7 McLovins out of 10.

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Post image for Pallbearer “Foundations Of Burden” (2014 Profound Lore)

Pallbearer is the latest metal band that the hipsters have decided to adopt. By “hipsters” I mean non-metalheads, and by “adopt” I mean not complain about loudness or not understanding the words. Pitchfork, Spin and even NPR gave beaming reviews to these cats’ first record, Sorrow and Extinction, and not without reason; It’s a good record. I suppose it’s doom metal because that’s what they decide to call it. Really, if you listen to the record enough times, it becomes a rock record, like many other punk and metal records that try to distance themselves from the genre for whatever reason. Mastodon and High On Fire refer to their performances as “rock shows,” so there’s no shame in it. And that’s not to say these guys aren’t “real” doom metal. But, I don’t see them opening for Saint Vitus and Candlemass. They sound like they’d more likely round out a bill with The Sword and Baroness. But arguing the difference between whether these guys are stoner or doom seems like a serious waste of everyone’s time. It is what it is and either you like it or you don’t.

That being said, while Sorrow and Extinction had a much more experimental doomy vibe, this second record is definitely leading more toward the stony vibes. Between the ’70s-style wails, bluesier riffs and bell-heavy drums, Sleep very much comes to mind. However, at this record’s base is a more smoothed-out feel. Multi-voice, operatic choruses juxtaposed against fairly raw, growly guitar tones. Obviously a better production value than the last record, but the songs aren’t quite as daring. Much more major (happier) progressions, which if done correctly can translate into epic. While the rhythm, flow and feel of the record is pretty homogenous, there are speckles of piano and keyboard to mix it up (especially on “Ashes”). Still, the meat and potatoes of this record is slow, heavy, chunky, head-banging tom-riffery.

Above all, this is a guitar record and some of the solos, especially during the climax of “Watcher In The Dark”. Damn, that’s nasty. The bass and drums aren’t particularly impressive, but they do their job and they most definitely do not subtract from the album’s heaviness. The vocals are meant to be sung along with one hand over the heart and one outstretched in yearning. Basically, if you liked Pallbearer’s debut, you’ll like this one as well. Maybe not more, but you’ll still like it. It is not leaps and bounds past the first record, but it is not a step backwards either, just a more focused and polished version of the same idea. I still cannot figure out why the hipsters decided that this was their new favorite metal band. I could say it’s because you can “understand” what they’re saying, yet that arguement holds no water where Deafheaven is concerned, so who knows. These guys are legit and the music they’re playing sounds like the music they want to be playing. I don’t hear any tugs in one direction or another to be more popular or more radio-friendly and that’s really all I can ask for this day and age. – Bennett Mohler

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Post image for Rookie Town “Rooted Feral” (2014 Self)

I’ve always been terrified of the ocean, yet inherently transfixed by it at the same time. On my rare visits to the beach, I recurrently find myself curious enough to dip my toes in the water but unable to go any further. Similarly, I’ve never been able to dive headfirst into “screamo,” or rather a fistful of music genres that I lump together as such the moment the vocalist begins to scream. Nevertheless, heavier punk music has always intrigued me. Rooted Feral, the new EP from Rookie Town, a post-hardcore band born in Bellingham, Washington, has proven to be a useful tool in easing the transition between the rock music I’m familiar with and a vast array of scream-filled music that I know nothing about.

The EP doesn’t waste any time with “Five Months, Five Days,” a track driven by a rapid drumbeat and sporadic guitar melodies. While it is the shortest of Rooted Feral’s songs, it successfully sets the tone for the entire EP and captures the listener’s interest in an impressive 01:32.

Rooted Feral demonstrates a more prominent use of alternative rock influences in tracks such as “Forever Pageantry” and “Tree-ish Thing.” Both utilize pop-infused, catchy guitar riffs to offset the screaming vocals and produce a softer effect. While both songs employ the same techniques, the far-off sound of the guitar in “Tree-ish Thing” creates a wistful effect and “Forever Pageantry” takes on a completely different tone of determination and hope.

“Old Forest Floors,” contrasts with “Forever Pageantry’s” optimism, with somber lyrics referencing “shades of grey” and “a flood that never cedes.” The vocalist repeats “nothing is rising,” which suggests an unchangeable, hopeless situation. The track resembles a ballad at first, but quickly picks up the pace. It continues to build throughout, and the vocals don’t hold back as the song concludes. At this point in the record, I’m beginning to understand the appeal behind screaming, as the vocalist is able to convey so much emotion through it.

Many of the songs on this EP are very dynamic, evolving within themselves and experimenting with various techniques and genres. A prime example of such is “Dandelion Courage.” While perhaps one of Rooted Feral’s most interesting tracks, there is so much going on that I felt overstimulated. With the repetition of the word “calm” throughout the song clashing with in-your-face vocals that are anything but, and the drastic change of tone at the bridge of the song, it doesn’t quite fit together.

Upon listening to Rooted Feral, it has become clear to me that I was quick to assume that all music including screaming sounded the same. With one standout track after another, Rookie Town illustrates the versatility of the technique and subsequently creates a very distinct sound. While I may never be one to swim in the ocean, artists such as Rookie Town bridge the gap between alternative rock and hardcore punk, allowing me to approach heavier genres with an open mind. – Julia Truszkowski

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Tonight in Eugene 8/29/14

by on August 29, 2014

Tonight in Eugene check out The Student Loan string band playin’ down-home americana at Sam Bond’s Garage.

If that’s not your jam, then maybe the atmospheric, joyous post-rock of This Patch Of Sky at Luckey’s Club.

Or maybe you’re into something heavy? Check out Mammoth Salmon at The Wandering Goat.

If none of these awesome shows strike your fancy, tickle your scallops or whatever bizarro euphemism you prefer, check out our full event listings for the weekend. It’s a BUSY one!!

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Post image for FLASHBACK FRIDAY: Sikth “Death Of A Dead Day” (2006 Beiler Bros Records)

When I was living in Salem, Oregon with my family, it was a ritual for my brother and I to go to Borders and pick up the new Terrorizer magazine when it was released. For me, the biggest appeal of that publication was the “Fear Candy” sampler discs that you’d receive with each issue. I found some of my current favorite artists that way; one of which being Sikth. I remember being turned off to the band as a whole when the track ‘Bland Street Bloom’ started playing on my latest Fear Candy. At the time I was listening to a lot of Celtic Frost, Children of Boredom, Scar Symmetry and Emperor. So, as you can imagine, hearing something “odd” and “technical” like Sikth, I was thrown through a noise-suppressed loop.

‘Bland Street Bloom’ was the lead single off their album “Death of a Dead Day” and upon hearing it I was intrigued. So what do I do? Obviously, any smart human would then listen to the entire album. The first thing that really jumped out about the album was the tuning of the guitars on some tracks. I could be wrong but I believe it to be dropped C (CGCFAD) but with the lowest tuned to G, making it an octave below the second lowest string. The way they approach their guitar parts are very original and they’re as precise, if not more so, than most bands these days. With very technical runs intertwined with catchy choruses and your occasional breakdown section, it’s no wonder these guys were really popular in their day.

As a band that has toured with everyone from Mudvayne and Machine Head to Akercocke and Anthrax, they’ve been all across the world in different markets. They have never toured the United States, to this day, but hopefully they will soon! They have since reformed in 2013 and are set to play many festivals in Europe throughout 2014. If you watch bootleg videos of them performing at Download Festival in 2014 you can tell that the crowd loves it. I am pining for them to tour the US and you would likely see them share a bill with the likes of TesseracT, Protest The Hero, Periphery, Veil of Maya or even Born of Osiris. Modern day mallcore kids are going to eat this shit up. – Stephen Parker

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