This Week in Local Music: Old Light, Paper Brain

Old Light brings its gritty Americana sound and clean, multipart vocals to Habesha before Paper Brain opens a perfect local-pop lineup at Backspace.

By Jonathan Frochtzwajg January 23, 2013

Editors' note: This is the first installment in a new weekly Culturephile feature where we'll pick the week's standout local-music shows and tell you why you should turn out.

Old Light (with Wooden Indian Burial Ground), Habesha, January 25

Wooden Indian Burial Ground, the Portland garage-psych quartet that’s been perking up ears not only at PoMo’s office, but across the country, since an interest-piquing performance at the CMJ Music Marathon last fall, was added as the headliner of this show last-minute, but original headliners Old Light are well worth showing up early for. The local Americana group ranked among the top 10 in Willamette Week’s influential Best New Band poll in 2011, on the strength of its live shows and its 2010 debut full-length, The Dirty Future (released on Portland label Arena Rock, also home to Talkdemonic, Richmond Fontaine, and the Parson Red Heads). On record, Old Light’s clean, multipart vocals act as an interesting counterpoint to its gritty Americana sound. On stage, the band looks like one you’d discover in some roadhouse (and certainly not at a Northeast Portland Ethiopian restaurant like Habesha): Beards abound, and singer-guitarist-Autoharpist Garth Steel Klippert has been known to front the group—ably, we might add—without even getting up from his chair.

Listen to a track from The Dirty Future:

Watch a video released last fall for new song “Ocean Waves”—which, as its title suggests, accentuates Old Light’s surf-rock harmonies:

Paper Brain (with Wild Ones and Genders); Backspace; January 26

The sum of this local-pop bill is even greater than its pretty-great parts. If you haven’t heard headliner Wild Ones, you’re simply missing an integral part of Portland’s music scene. The quartet (which, incidentally, also made the abovementioned 2011 Best New Band list) makes charming, danceable pop music featuring electronic elements and lovely, girlish vocals courtesy of singer Danielle Sullivan. Genders, too, has four members and a silver-throated female singer, but its pop sound is more ‘60s-reminiscent and has a complicated, rock-ish side. It’s this show’s opener, though, that’s the must-see. Paper Brain has been largely absent from the scene since putting out 2009 LP Ain’t Nobody Cares, but is now making a comeback with its outstanding EP Begin Again, a short-but-sweet showcase of the band’s pitch-perfect, psych-tinged pop sensibility.        

Listen to a track from Begin Again:

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