Author: Austin Rich

Vortex Remover CD Release. Saturday, February 4th at 6:00pm at The Space

We would be remiss not to recommend this blowout of a show that is happening at The Space February 4th at 6 PM.  Not only is the Vortex Remover’s Album Release Party for their forthcoming Rawkward Phase – a release that is two and half years in the making – but this is going to be a crazy lineup of great local rock bands, with a touring group on the bill for good measure.  MARC & the Horsejerks, Summer Eyes, Saucy Yoda, Bullets or Balloons, City of Pieces and Hank porch with all all be playing, and will be...

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Mexican Gunfight Saturday, February 4th at 9:00pm at Governor’s Cup

Also happening this Saturday, February 4th is a rare appearance by Mexican Gunfight.  This Portland combo mines rock conventions and three chord structures to stake out new territory with songs that speak to a the heartfelt songs they often belt out.  Combining soaring solos, a Latin/jazz backbone to the songwriting, a driving piano and introspective lyrics that strive to tackle more than Person-Falls-In-Love ideas, Mexican Gunfight is perfect for anyone who might feel like they want to hang with a slightly older crowd on a Saturday night. Certainly, Mexican Gunfight might be courting a different demographic than a lot of...

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Center Mass String Quartet. Friday, February 10th at 9:00pm at Taproot.

Instrumentation speaks volumes about your group, and for some, the sounds of acoustic instruments is as – or more so – compelling than anything a rock combo can offer.  With that in mind, Taproot is hosting The Center Mass String Quartet, where the group is playing with The Jack Maybe Project.  Perhaps I spoke too soon by prefacing their sound with the word “acoustic,” because in their own words, The Center Mass String Quartet is “Folk-punk, Punk-folk, Deathgrass Acoustic,” and when you hear them wind-up at a pretty good clip and deliver songs like, “Blackbird” – as political a...

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The City Within a City

There are still a number of neighborhoods that are completely new to me.  I catch sight of the place The Ventures played, or the childhood home of Herbert Hoover, and I’m fascinated.  That fountain sculpture in front of the Capitol Building?  A hundred times more interesting than that gold statue.  Even The Carousel – a landmark that is known to most people outside of Salem – even that holds quite a bit of charm to this outsider’s heart.  I didn’t grow up in Salem.  But in the two years that I’ve lived here, I find something new to love...

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Bicameral Ammunition

Playing as part of the insane Vortex Remover Album Release party at The Space with Hank Porche, M.A.R.C. & the Horsejerks, Saucy Yoda, Summer Eyes, and City of Pieces on February 4th are Olympia Washington’s Bullets or Balloons, an almost DIY punk take on the prog aesthetic. The noise made on Binary Minds will be celebrated at their own  release party on January 27th, and will kick start a small tour that will take them to Eugene and back.   Since 2012 Bullets or Balloons have mastered a three-piece sound all their own, where complicated parts and smirky, moebius strip style lyrics snake around politically minded thoughts and abstract wordscapes without having to say too very much about anything specific. They are almost the heir to the throne of Schlong, save for their tendency toward original material and a prog over punk mission statement.   Certainly, the musicianship and production take center stage on Binary Minds, evoking a Don Caballero sensibility with songs that are never more than 2 minutes long.  “A walking fountain of opinions / knee-jerk reactions and decisions / who really needs more time / or additional information.”  Even the delivery sort of circles the drain of what might count as a joke, while being entirely serious, too.  (Don’t we all need to re-think the complexities of being able to say anything, anywhere, at any time?)...

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Dream Machines: John & Exene

The Salem music scene is a rather overgrown family tree, and the connections run pretty wide and pretty deep.  This point is brought into focus as we all filed into Tim Knight’s reopened Guitar Castle, a music store fixture that is well known and well loved among musicians and up-and-coming strummers alike.  Tim’s connections to Salem run deep – he and Kit opened Ranch together back in the day.  So it’s no wonder that for a kick-off party, he’d book some pretty incredible guests.   The fact that it was John Doe and Exene Cervenka of X is not only impressive, but illustrative of just how connected Tim is. There is something to be said for “in-store” performances, and in stripped down situations where performers are grabbing an acoustic guitar to belt out some songs… let’s just say it can be disastrous in the wrong hands.  It’s one thing to be on a stage with a full band backing you, monitors blasting your face off, several hundred people in front of you screaming and getting you pumped up.  Of course you’re ready to destroy.  But it can fall short in intimate environments.  Sometimes, it just can’t translate. Unless you happen to be, you know, Exene Cervenka & John Doe, who have been playing shows like this as often as the big gigs every chance they get.  John has an...

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There’s a Secret devilsclub in Salem

Lurking around the edges of the Salem music scene lies “devilsclub”, a project by longtime local musician, “horridus oplopanax”, who has anonymously been producing experimental electronic soundscapes right here in the Mid-Valley. It hasn’t always been in this form, though. At age five Horridus began learning to play on a candy apple red 1957 Fender Duo-Sonic guitar, taking lessons from a jazz player, and accumulating other instruments as he got older.  “I ended up a bass guitar player for about 21 years. I played sessions and recorded records and toured in that capacity for a while,” horridus said, and...

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Solos & Psychodrama: Keep on rockin’ in the Dusk world.

There is something lurking beneath the pretty harmonies and soaring guitar work on ReAwakening, something you can glimpse when you stare into the album’s cover, a monochromatic presentation of what appears to be four or five different landscapes arranged around a misty hilltop, upon which hooded figures, trees and tombstones dance around each other as clouds and fog perform a sort of Shakespearean framing of this eerie moment.  It’s the perfect image for the prog rock within, where epic riffs and precise piano work meet in the Venn Diagram that is Dusks Embrace.    With nearly a year of band history per track on this year’s release, it is hard to tell the full story of this record by simply name-checking Queensrÿche or Opeth, regardless of how apt that might be.  You could go on about Josh Brewer’s guitar playing, which ranges from the blackest of death metal, through the indiest of rock, on to the most competent Eric Johnson soloing (and, at times, is even loungy, where the piano and guitar paint a cocktail bar atmosphere during “Psychastenia”).  But even that is only part of the story.  The rhythm section of this group is certainly a boon, as both Myke and Liam are a rock-solid unit, that can follow the band through any genre-bending, tempo-changing place the story happens to be taking us. Classical guitar references might intermingle...

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Lounging In The Box: All Ages Dance Party (17 November 2016)

If there’s fifty kids crammed into a small place who all look like they’re having a blast, then it’s probably worth poking your head in to see what might warrant the hubbub, even if the event is called “Jammin’ with Grandma.” The Ike Box has had its history with shows in the past, and might have once carried a waft of un-cool as an all-ages joint. Several people commented, “Wait, they still put on shows?” But none of the kids there Thursday were worried about any of that, or even that it was a Thursday night. The entire place was wrapped in a warm fuzzy blanket of ‘90’s fashion and accessories, though these kids have no first-hand experience of the era.  Still, they danced in a way that evoked a popular meme that escapes this author’s generation at the moment. DoggyDogWorld, as if part of the trope, pumped out a mélange of mellow and somewhat tame rap rock between cover songs and checking their phones. Their frontman – a younger and less stoned looking Zach Galifianakis – rhymed his way through the set charismatically, while their bass player seemed to be borrowing equally form Jane’s Addiction’s basslines and wardrobe. Even still, the crowd was energetic, both on and off the stage, and while this was certainly some awkward dancing at times, you could never say that they weren’t having fun....

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