Since its inaugural release in 2004 brought the likes of the Thermals and the Decemberists into the limelight, PDX Pop Now ‘s annual compilation album has consistently served as a scrupulously curated resource for new Portland music—a compass that, if used correctly, can point you toward an iPod’s worth of new tunes and guide your next year of live show-going.
But at 41 songs, the two-disc set is a 2 1/2-hour undertaking that can, in rare cases, induce a condition known as "multi-genre mind-melt." Call it a kill-joy or a time-saver, we’ve broken down the PDX Pop Now 2012 Compilation ‘s bands out into broad categories, so you can speculate about whom you might like. By all means, still buy the whole thing —but if you skip a track or two, we won’t tell on you.
Folk Idealists: Future Historians, Brooke Parrot, Pancake Breakfast, Linnae Griffin, Typhoon
There’s always room for a few creaky, worn-in voices raised in acoustically-driven, clap-along song.
Folk Cynic: M. Ward
Formerly a staunch member of the above club, M. Ward’s latest single carries new undertones of dark, cynical profundity, speckled with white noise and a hint of Pink Floyd.
World Ambassadors: Dusu Mali, Y La Bamba
Music sung in other tongues than English has always been welcomed by PPN, ever since folk act Loch Lomond submitted a French number in year one. This time, Spanish and African vocals don’t distract from the fact that music is a universal language.
Hardcore: White Orange, White Fang, Sons of Huns, Big Black Cloud
Party bands: Youthbitch, Palmas, The CRY!, Hollywood Tans
While the subgenres these groups conjure vary from surf-punk to new-wave, they all share the common coconut whiff of young weekenders.
Punk Rock: Archers
Pretty much holding down the pirate-flagged, paint-peeling fort for classic punk rock this season. You’ll know it when you hear it: hella fast-paced four:four that sounds like it’s mad at Dad.
Psychedelic Fringe: Radiation City, AU, Boyscout Discovery, Sun Angle, Charts, Grandparents
Nothing like this recent psych-rock swell to remind us that Portland is still the land of the Dandies and a favored crashpad for Brian Jonestown Massacre members.
“Chillwave”: Wild Ones, Pure Bathing Culture, Tu Fawning
Seemingly the biggest genre buzzword of the season, the bands who take on this term evoke wafty 90’s alt bands like The Innocence Mission and The Sundays.
Experiments at Your Expense: Pardee Shorts, Smegma, Blood Beach
This kind of music is not intended to be enjoyed by listeneers, but rather heroically withstood, like G-forces or tattooing. Those who brave the relentless crash-bash will win a Crackerjack prize.
Masterminds: The Ocean Floor, Like a Villain, Onuinu, Neal Morgan
A songcrafter’s mind unfurls into a sprawling sonic labyrinth for each of these acts.
Young Emcees: Luk One & Dekk, Rose, Cloudy October
Reflecting our city’s musicmaking ratios (indie bands/rap acts are probably 30 to 1), PDX Pop only shouts out a couple of rappers each annum. Referencing hipster esoterica like a pet turtle, an “emaciated frame,” and Tony Hawk’s skating style, these guys fit in with the indie canon just fine.
80’s Infused Dance Bands: Federer, My Body, Glass Candy, Sex Life, Jeffrey Jerusalem
This seems to be a trending type. With compressed post-disco percussion and reverby vox, these acts evoke the early Mtv years, when everything cool was lit by glowing slashes of neon and adrift in wisps of dry ice. There’s a sense, however silly, that somewhere Debbie Harry and Bananarama might still be sporting spandex leotards and gyrating to these jams.
Jazz Combo: Trio Subtonic
In a continuing (and fruitful) effort to keep jazz hip with young cats, PPN tends to throw in one or so a season. This time, Trio Subtonic’s "in-the-pocket."
The PDX Pop Now Compilation can be purchased at CDBaby, or at record stores around Portland such as Everyday Music, Jackpot Records, Music Millenium, Tender Loving Empire, and many more!
For more about Portland arts, visit PoMo’s Arts & Entertainment Calendar, stream content with an RSS feed, sign up for our weekly On The Town Newsletter, or follow us on Twitter @PoMoArt! Blog content reflects the views of the individual author and not necessarily SagaCity Media, Inc.