The Essentials

From a New Shins Album to a Blitzen Trapper Musical, March's Pop Culture Hot List

The album, book, musical event, and poetry collection to know this month

By Fiona McCann February 20, 2017 Published in the March 2017 issue of Portland Monthly

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The Album

Uber-indie stars the Shins return, with the distinctive vocals of James Mercer (above) hitting the high registers on Heartworms (March 10, Columbia). Mercer himself largely produced his band’s first new album in almost five years. Listen up for bright, pop-laced odes to female empowerment, lamentations on aging, and light, tight tributes to unrequited love.  

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The Book

Corvallis’s Elena Passarello begins Animals Strike Curious Poses (Sarabande Books, February 28) with a 39,000-year-old woolly mammoth called Yuka and ends with Cecil the lion, killed by an American hunter last year. They’re two of 17 individual animals that lend their names to the eloquent, imaginative essays in this collection, which shed as much light on human impulses as they do on their beastly subjects.

The, er, Event

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Folk rockers Blitzen Trapper are behind a “new musical event” at Portland Center Stage (March 16–April 30), a fantastical tale about “ordinary Americans” melding music, storytelling, and some serious theatrics. Yeah. You might just have to be there.

The Poetry

Portland poet Elyse Fenton follows 2007’s award-winning debut Clamor with Sweet Insurgent (Saturnalia, March 15), offering intimate, lyrical explorations of the gaps and overlaps between birth, death, love, and war.

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