Now Hear This: October 2021 edition

New this month from local artists: darkwave, splashy psych-pop, mental cinematheque, jazz for fly fishing, a griot tape & more–just in time for Bandcamp’s Fee Free First Friday.

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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 darkwave, splashy psych-pop, mental cinematheque, jazz for fly fishing, a griot tape, and plenty more–just in time for Bandcamp’s next Fee Free First Friday.

Blackwater Holylight, Silence/Motion

Blackwater Holylight piles layer upon layer of musical ideas atop of one another throughout their third full-length. A flowing shoegaze section will give way to a stoner metal breakdown, or a sensitive acoustic ballad will open up to reveal the prog rock anthem within. But, laying up on these stacks of sound, that hard kernel of emotional truth is still palpable. The four members of the band were faced with global and interpersonal grief throughout the writing and recording of Silence/Motion. The music became a lifeline keeping the group from sinking into a tar pit of despair. Here’s hoping it can have the same effect on you. 

Corrine Sharlet, A Lovely Future 

How does one elevate the dreamy singer-songwriter album beyond the tried-and-true sound and mood that launched a thousand ships? If you’re Corrine Sharlet, you surround yourself with a murderer’s row of local musicians whose work flows freely between genres. For her latest releases, Sharlet has called on guitarist Mike Gamble, bassist Andrew Jones, and keyboardist Ryan Oxford (the latter of which produced these sessions) to help take her floating folk-pop to more daring heights with their jazzy chords and psychedelic sonics. 

The Shivas, Feels So Good // Feels So Bad

It should be obvious to anyone within earshot why The Shivas are one of Portland’s best global representatives. This long-running quartet have perfected a splashy psych-pop sound that bathes the listener in feelings/vibes that pour straight from the heart of the creative and personal partnership at the core of the group. The group’s latest is their most vibe-y yet. The whole album is a response to our weird time with songs that ache for the kind of human connection getting lost as we play it safe behind our masks and stay at least three feet apart. 

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Janeiro Lockhart, Vignettes

I really want to spend some time inside Janeiro Lockhart’s brain. This producer’s most recent collection is, as they say in the notes for the Bandcamp release, “the soundtrack to a series of short films that only exist in [their] head.” If these short instrumentals are anything to go by, the movies playing in their mental cinematheque are filled with gorgeous colors, longing gazes, and sweeping shots of the natural world. 

Ryan Meagher, A Thousand Casts

For his latest album, guitarist Ryan Meagher combines his two passions: jazz music and fly fishing. On this live recording captured at Milo McIver State Park, he intersperses his free flowing instrumentals with tales of the Clackamas River told by fishing guide Eric Leininger. It’s an unusual pairing but each side of the equation brings a knowing humor and oodles of charm to each moment. It’s as light and loose as swinging a fly over the surface of the water in hopes of enticing a trout. 

Black Tape For A Blue Girl, The Cleft Serpent

Just as much of the music released over the past year has been a reaction to our troubled era, the 13th album by darkwave ensemble Black Tape For A Blue Girl feels like a heaving cry over the pile up of global crises weighing on our collective backs. The key to the emotional core of this fantastic recording is the addition of vocalist Jon DeRosa, who brings a shattering level of dramatic fire to Sam Rosenthal’s electronic soundscapes, calling to mind the finest moments of This Mortal Coil and David Sylvian. 

Qeese Tha Gr8, The Griot Tape

Is this the promised follow up to Qeese Tha Gr8’s marvelous album Attitude Era or a small morsel meant to leave us satisfied yet hungry for more? Details are slim on that front. What’s clear though is that this young producer has talent to burn as these short instrumental tracks stay at a Dilla-like rolling boil, with each bubbling beat and each sizzling moment like the devilish flip of what sounds like a ’50s gospel record on “Forever” or the unresolved loop tumbles around “Awaken.”

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About the author

Robert Ham is a critic and journalist living in Portland, Oregon’s outer reaches. During his time in the Rose City, he has contributed to The OregonianWillamette WeekPortland Mercury, and Portland Monthly, while also amassing a healthy amount of clips for print and online publications including PitchforkDownBeatBandcamp, and Village Voice. In 2019, he was the recipient of the SPJ Award for Best Sports Feature. In addition, Robert produces and hosts Double Bummer, a radio show focusing on new and newly reissued experimental music from around the world that airs every Tuesday night at 11pm PT on XRAY-FM. To read more of his work, visit his portfolio site or follow him on Twitter at @roberthamwriter.

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