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Great Portland Records of 2011

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No blog, it seems, is complete without a litany of year-end lists on its pages detailing the greatest achievements in music, movies, and pop culture over the past twelve months. Despite the fact that linear time is a drag, and categorizing music into tidy lists is anathema to the sprawling, inclusive energy of the Portland music scene, we’ve kowtowed to the year-end pressure (and our own innate love of list-making) and compiled a by-no-means-exhaustive compendium of great releases from Portland bands this year.

Of course, these are personal favorites, and it wouldn’t be a year-end list if it didn’t incite passionate arguments, so—by all means—tear it to shreds. What did we commit the sin of omitting?

Purple and Green—Right Here 12″ EP
The first release on Clinton Street Records and Stereo, a record store-cum-vinyl label run by longtime Portland party monster DJ Maxx Bass, Puple and Green’s Right here was the unofficial body-mover of 2011.

Wild Flag—Wild Flag
Star in a certain IFC show, relentlessly shred on guitar…that Carrie, what can’t she do?

Glass Candy—Warm in the Winter
I dare you to watch this video for Glass Candy’s “Warm in the Winter” and not fall in love:

Grouper—A I A: Alien Observer / A I A: Dream Loss
Gorgeous, drony, epic, ambient, ethereal, gauzy…Grouper’s music deserves all the vague adjectives tossed her way by music bloggers nationwide. And more!

Parenthetical Girls—Privilege, Pt. IV: Sympathy for Spastics EP
Part four in an epic series of EPs by Portland’s most tasteful baroque angst showmen (and woman), Sympathy for Spastics is as elegant as it is relentlessly precise. Parts I-III are also commendable.

Unknown Mortal Orchestra—Unknown Mortal Orchestra
The oeuvre of a New Zealand-to-Portland transplant that describes his own sound as “alien beatnik pop music that echoe[s] 60s psychedelia and krautrock minimalism.” What’s not to love?

Key Losers—California Lite
Ok, it’s got California in the name, but it’s PDX through and through. There is perhaps nothing more “Portland” than commentary about the sublimity but ultimate inadequacy of other states, particularly California. This album is a haunting meditation on our southern neighbor from the vantage point of the melancholic Northwestern woods.

Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside—Dirty Radio
It’s always cool when someone emerges out of a fairly cohesive scene with a completely different sensibility than everyone else, brandishing references that others have either moved past from or not gotten to yet, and still inventing something new.

White Fang—Grateful to Shred
White Fang has grown from an unhinged pack of suburban teen hellions to an unhinged pack of adult hellions without losing a lick of their fiercely DIY sensibility and joyously anarchic spirit. Grateful to Shred might be their opus.

The PDX Pop Now! 2011 Compilation
You can always count on the folks at PDX Pop Now! to keep tabs on every emerging and established local band—and to be scheming ways to include them in their yearly festival of Portland music. Their compilations are always an exhaustive reference of exactly what’s going on, and as such are indispensible.

Every Weird Digital Release by Rob Walmart
For lovers of pure chaos, language poetry, and screeching broken gear. The nameless collective of noise jammers that make up Rob Walmart (get it?) is like the punk conscience of the entire city’s music scene, always exhorting us to get off our high horses and get back in the van.

Nurses—Dracula
Portland is like a flytrap for pop-psychedelia albums. It’s just a sound that sticks here. This one, recorded in the dead of winter in a cabin on the Oregon coast while under the influence of Prince’s catalogue, floats perfectly in the Northwest atmosphere.

Red Fang—Murder the Mountains
How many arguments have gone down in local taverns over the superior Fang band, White or Red? My Portlandia blog cohort Matt P. Singer argues Red, I say White. Both made great albums this year. You decide.

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Millennial Wisdom

Charles Speaks For Us All

Get to know Charles, the social media whiz of Brockmire.

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He may be an unlikely radio producer Brockmire, but Charles is #1 when it comes to delivering quips that tie a nice little bow on the absurdity of any given situation.

Charles also perfectly captures the jaded outlook of Millennials. Or at least Millennials as mythologized by marketers and news idiots. You know who you are.

Played superbly by Tyrel Jackson Williams, Charles’s quippy nuggets target just about any subject matter, from entry-level jobs in social media (“I plan on getting some experience here, then moving to New York to finally start my life.”) to the ramifications of fictional celebrity hookups (“Drake and Taylor Swift are dating! Albums y’all!”). But where he really nails the whole Millennial POV thing is when he comments on America’s second favorite past-time after type II diabetes: baseball.

Here are a few pearls.

On Baseball’s Lasting Cultural Relevance

“Baseball’s one of those old-timey things you don’t need anymore. Like cursive. Or email.”

On The Dramatic Value Of Double-Headers

“The only thing dumber than playing two boring-ass baseball games in one day is putting a two-hour delay between the boring-ass games.”

On Sartorial Tradition

“Is dressing badly just a thing for baseball, because that would explain his jacket.”

On Baseball, In A Nutshell

“Baseball is a f-cked up sport, and I want you to know it.”


Learn more about Charles in the behind-the-scenes video below.

And if you were born before the late ’80s and want to know what the kids think about Baseball, watch Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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Crown Jules

Amanda Peet FTW on Brockmire

Amanda Peet brings it on Brockmire Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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GIFS via Giphy

On Brockmire, Jules is the unexpected yin to Jim Brockmire’s yang. Which is saying a lot, because Brockmire’s yang is way out there. Played by Amanda Peet, Jules is hard-drinking, truth-spewing, baseball-loving…everything Brockmire is, and perhaps what he never expected to encounter in another human.

“We’re the same level of functional alcoholic.”


But Jules takes that commonality and transforms it into something special: a new beginning. A new beginning for failing minor league baseball team “The Frackers”, who suddenly about-face into a winning streak; and a new beginning for Brockmire, whose life gets a jumpstart when Jules lures him back to baseball. As for herself, her unexpected connection with Brockmire gives her own life a surprising and much needed goose.

“You’re a Goddamn Disaster and you’re starting To look good to me.”

This palpable dynamic adds depth and complexity to the narrative and pushes the series far beyond expected comedy. See for yourself in this behind-the-scenes video (and brace yourself for a unforgettable description of Brockmire’s genitals)…

Want more about Amanda Peet? She’s all over the place, and has even penned a recent self-reflective piece in the New York Times.

And of course you can watch the Jim-Jules relationship hysterically unfold in new episodes of Brockmire, every Wednesday at 10PM on IFC.

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Draught Pick

Sam Adams “Keeps It Brockmire”

All New Brockmire airs Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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From baseball to beer, Jim Brockmire calls ’em like he sees ’em.

via GIPHY

It’s no wonder at all, then, that Sam Adams would reach out to Brockmire to be their shockingly-honest (and inevitably short-term) new spokesperson. Unscripted and unrestrained, he’ll talk straight about Sam—and we’ll take his word. Check out this new testimonial for proof:

See more Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC, presented by Samuel Adams. Good f***** beer.

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