Robert Ham

 

Now Hear This: November edition

Lo-fi Americana, unrelenting death metal, soothing slowcore

Now Hear This is a monthly column that scours the pages of music distributor Bandcamp, looking for new work from local artists that would make fine additions to your digital library. This time around, that includes lo-fi, death metal, slowcore, rediscovered millennial punk, and plenty of pop and jazz–just in time for Bandcamp’s next Fee Free First Friday.

May Arden, Acts 10:38

Portland artist May Arden plays within the worlds of baroque, folk and avant garde, and on her latest album she threads those strains together into an alluring tapestry. The roughly-recorded collection, often featuring only Arden’s crystalline voice accompanied by guitar or banjo, includes a chopped up hymn, a piece of a Beethoven song cycle, and American standards like “Clementine” and “O Shenandoah.” The lo-fi quality of these recordings hearkens back to the days of Edison cylinders and shellac 78s, crackling and rustling through the speakers as they spin. 

Hannah Glavor, So Far, So Long

Recorded in Brooklyn and Portland and completed last year, the latest album by singer-songwriter Hannah Glavor finally saw release last month—and not a moment too soon. Her delicate compositions almost never get above the pace of an unhurried stroll, and her smoothed out, shimmering take on folk-pop is a balm to the soul. Capping it off is Glavor’s incredible voice, sinking into each song as if resting on a lush, mossy piece of earth. 

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Now Hear This: October edition

Electronic pop, future folk birthday celebration, and live experimental

Now Hear This is a monthly column that scours the pages of music distributor Bandcamp, looking for new work from local artists that would make fine additions to your digital library. This time around, that includes powerful electronic pop, a future folk birthday celebration, and live recordings from one of the city’s best experimental artists–just in time for Bandcamp’s next Fee Free First Friday.

Natasha Kmeto, You’ve Never Danced Alone

Electronic pop artist Natasha Kmeto has long produced some of Portland’s best and boldest sounds, but her latest album You’ve Never Danced Alone takes her talent to another level. As the notes for this self-produced release spell out, these 11 songs are a reflection of a tumultuous period that included “a divorce, finding new love, exploring sobriety and re-connecting with forgotten ancestry.” What came out of these difficult times is an album that blends the bright colors, booms, and dissolves of a great fireworks show with slow, swaying grooves.

Various Artists, Graves Diggers

To celebrate the 40th birthday of Greg Olin, the neo-folk singer-songwriter who performs as Graves, a wealth of his friends and fans are paying tribute to his work by recording their favorites of his many tunes. As reflection of just how widely beloved Olin and his music is, the breadth of this collection encompasses Sad Horse’s rattletrap pop, dreamy psych-folk courtesy of Neisha D’Souza, and a soulful rock rendition of “Straight 9” by Nate Ashley. 

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Now Hear This: September edition

Rock lifers and PDX Pop, vintage country and moody drones, urgent hip-hop and more

Now Hear This is a monthly column that scours the pages of music distributor Bandcamp, looking for new work from local artists that would make fine additions to your digital library. This time around, that includes some new tunes from rock lifers, a pair of diverse and dynamic compilations, and urgent hip-hop–just in time for Bandcamp’s next Fee Free First Friday.

Pete Krebs, All My Friends Are Ghosts

Singer-songwriter Pete Krebs is one of Portland’s most beloved musical sons, carving out a unique niche that has allowed him to explore everything from gypsy jazz to vintage country. On his latest album, he leans toward the latter with a lived-in collection of tunes exploring life’s ephemerality, the joy found in nature, and other simple pleasures. For someone who hasn’t released an album under his own name in nearly two decades, Krebs sounds like he hasn’t lost a step.

Various Artists, PDX Pop Now! Vol. 17

In a better world, Portland’s music lovers would have capped off the summer with PDX Pop Now!–the free, all ages festival that has been a fixture of the city’s concert calendar since 2004. The event couldn’t take place this year, but the team behind it has still graced our ears with a new double-CD compilation of fine local music. As ever, the latest installment runs the gamut from hip-hop (Eastern Sunz, The Dutchess), future pop (Jan Julius, Courtney Noe), heavy rock (Mane of the Cur, Mare), and a ton of indie rock. For a quick temperature check on the state of Portland music ca. 2020, you can do no better than this. 

Death Parade, lost in her eyes

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Now Hear This: August edition

Vibrant hip-hop, contemporary classical, and data music for Bandcamp's Free Friday

Now Hear This is a monthly column that scours the pages of music distributor Bandcamp, looking for new work from local artists that would make fine additions to your digital library. This time around, that includes some vibrant hip-hop, contemporary classical vocal pieces, and experimental work inspired by a score made up of reams of raw data.

Rasheed Jamal, High Tech. Low Life

Local rapper Rasheed Jamal has slipped quietly in to take over the lane that Kanye has abandoned in favor of his spiritual reawakening and his absurd Presidential ambitions. The bite and urgency of Jamal’s delivery and the rock-leaning boom of his productions evoke the same full body joy of West’s best. This new three song collection closes out a summer series of releases that Jamal has been slipping into the world through Bandcamp and, as it should, ends it on a high note. 

House of Warmth, <3

House of Warmth sounds exactly as their moniker suggests: cozy, clambering, synth-dusted folk-pop songs that feel like they were constructed in the afterglow of a boisterous communal meal and a shared bottle of wine.

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A new home for the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation

Yale Union transfers its building at SE 10th and Morrison to the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation and will dissolve by the end of 2021

About two years ago, T. Lulani Arquette, president and CEO of the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation (NACF), got a call out of the blue from Yoko Ott, a fellow former Hawaiian and a fellow figure working in the field of arts and culture. Ott had recently been hired as the new executive director of Yale Union, the nonprofit contemporary art organization, and she invited Arquette over to their headquarters on SE Morrison. 

“I thought we were just getting together to catch up,” Arquette remembers, “and ‘talk story’ as we say in Hawaii.” 

Instead, Ott had something much bigger in mind: she and Yale Union wanted to transfer ownership of their building, and the land it sits on, to NACF. 

T. Lulani Arquette. Photo courtesy of the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation.

“I was stunned into silence,” Arquette says. “I was shocked. Pleasingly shocked. This has been a really amazing experience and very profound for all of us that are involved.” 

The shockwaves have yet to die down since the transfer was announced this past Thursday, especially as their joint news release also included the detail that, at the end of next year, Yale Union would dissolve their nonprofit and cease operations.

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